In the Auburn Correctional Facility’s gray stone chapel, 50 incarcerated students and prison staff waited alongside dozens of Cornell faculty and staff Wednesday.
They were eager to hear the results of who won a debate between three men serving time at Auburn and a “dream team” of Cornell Speech & Debate Society alumni now attending the nation’s top three ranked law schools.
The maximum-security prison that opened in 1817 is widely known for housing the first electric chair, producing New York state’s license plates and for creating the “Auburn System.” Many 19th century prisons followed the system, which required inmates to live in silence.
Men serving sentences in Auburn no longer live in silence. Three of them Wednesday showed they have something to say and know just how to say it, in thanks, partly, to their ILR “Argumentation and Debate” class.