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Tuesday, December 19, 2017




The Ford Foundation
1440 Broadway
New York, NY 10018
(Entrance on 40th Street)

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Social Justice Champions Debate

In this engaging evening of persuasive expression, members of The Fortune Society’s Debate Club teamed up with Social Justice Professionals to examine the critical issue of whether or not NY State should continue utilizing a pre-trial detention and cash bail system.

The Fortune Society and The Rikers Debate Project (RDP) have been collaborating since August to host weekly workshops that help Fortune clients learn the art of debate while discussing issues critical to criminal justice system reform.

Check out the highlights and agenda for details.

For more information contact: Danielle Rosario at 347-510-3617 or drosario@fortunesociety.org.

Thank you to the energetic and supportive audience that joined us for our debate event, “Liberty or Liability?” It truly was a debate of Social Justice Champions! 

We are excited to share some highlights with you: 

Senator Michael Gianaris

Our evening began with opening remarks from Senator Michael Gianaris, a longtime social justice champion who consistently calls for an end to monetary cash bail and speaks out against systemic discrimination.

Rikers Debate Project

Before kicking off the event, The Rikers Debate Project gave us an overview of the important work they are doing on Rikers Island and in the community.

Felix  Deyja

For the Government, Prime Minister Felix (left) and partner, Council Member Daniel Dromm went toe-to-toe with Leader of Opposition, Deyja (right) and her partner, Stanley Richards, Executive Vice President of The Fortune Society. It was a very passionate debate, filled with compelling arguments from all parties!

Debate Judges

After lengthy discussion and deliberation, it came down to a very tight vote, but ultimately the government prevailed and cash bail would be eliminated!

Senator Jesse Hamilton

Our debate closed with some powerful words from Senator Jesse Hamilton who reminded us that jumping a turn-style is comparable to lacking sufficient funds to pay a toll, the only difference is how we police marginalized communities of color resulting in the arrest and arraignment for that $2.75 offense, and mailing a ticket to an address for the $8.50 toll. We must not lose sight of the policy reforms needed to bring true equality to our justice system and to our communities.

Debate Winners

Finally, the night ended with Associate Vice President Khalil Cumberbatch honoring the debate winners, Council Member Daniel Dromm (left) and Felix (center) for their efforts.

Thank you again to everyone who made the night a success, and a special thanks to The Ford Foundation and The Tow Foundation!

Read more about the event in articles from the NY Senate, New York Law Journal, and the Queens Gazette, and engage in the conversation on social media by exploring the hashtag #Debate4Justice.


5:00 pm Registration, Networking, and Dinner

6:00 pm Opening Remarks by Senator Michael Gianaris

6:10 pm Overview of Rikers Debate Project by Joshua Morrison

6:15 pm Explanation of Debate Format and Topic by Camilla

6:25 pm Social Justice Champions Debate Featuring: Senator Marisol Alcantara and Stanley Richards

6:55 pm Feedback on Debate Class by Shawnakay

7:00 pm Break

7:10 pm Judges Feedback and Scoring Announcement by Assembly Member David Weprin and Honorable Thomas K. Duane

7:20 pm Awards Ceremony

7:50 pm Closing Remarks by Senator Jesse Hamilton

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