Congratulations are in order for Patrick Henry College juniors Hannah Bruck and Eden Mackie, who were selected as the winning presenters at the International Holistic Justice Challenge hosted by California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, Calif. on May 5th and 6th.
The International Holistic Justice Challenge is a debate and presentation competition centered on criminal justice policies. The stated goal of the Challenge is to “expand who is included in American public discourse regarding the criminal justice system.” Typically, the demographic focus groups of criminal justice system discourse are victims, prisoners, ex-convicts, guards, administrators, police, judges, and attorneys.
The Challenge asks student teams to identify two distinct stakeholder groups to prioritize for inclusion in this discourse, arguing why their prioritization should be preferred to result in a “more just world compared to the status quo.”
Bruck and Mackie chose to focus on the stakeholder groups of the children of the incarcerated as well as local businesses negatively impacted by the void left by mass incarceration. Bruck and Mackie gave an eight-minute long presentation on these two groups and argued for their prioritization over alternative demographics. They also posed multiple solutions for the negative impacts of the criminal justice system on their chosen stakeholder groups.
Bruck and Mackie then presented a second time in front of only the panel of judges and were tasked with merging part of another team’s presentation with their own in a demonstration of the necessary spirit of collaboration in criminal justice discourse.
The esteemed judging panel was led by keynote speaker Ret. General Mark Inch as well as Chief Probation Officer for San Luis Obispo County Robert Reyes and Division Manager of Behavioral Health for San Luis Obispo County Dr. Star Graber. Both Bruck and Mackie performed “flawlessly and fruitfully” in both presentations to the panel, according to PHC Civic Debate Coach Ryan McDonald.
This was the first event of its kind hosted by Cal Poly, with the next iteration expected to occur in the fall of 2023. This May Challenge is the first of four sequential and exclusive academic events to take place over the next several years.
Patrick Henry College Debate wishes to extend its thanks to Dr. John Patrick of Cal Poly for hosting and inviting PHC to participate in the Holistic Justice Challenge.