The Instigator
littlelacroix
Pro (for)
Winning
21 Points
The Contender
TombLikeBomb
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points

In the United States, misdemeanor jail time ought to be replaced with significant rehabilitation.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/2/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,973 times Debate No: 7198
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (4)

 

littlelacroix

Pro

Because I believe that rehabilitation is better for society than mild jail time, I stand in affirmation of the resolution, Resolved: In the United States, misdemeanor jail time ought to be replaced with significant rehabilitation.

To ensure the best possible debate, I offer the following definitions.
1) Misdemeanor: a lesser crime punishable by a fine and/or county jail time for up to one year. (dictionary.law.com)
2) Significant: of a noticeably or measurably large amount (Merriam Webster Online)
3) Rehabilitation: to restore or bring to a condition of health or useful and constructive activity (Merriam Webster Online)

My value for this round will be Societal Good. Since we are talking about the Justice System, which was created to protect the people, we must hold Societal Good above all other values in this round. Without Societal Good, the Justice System falls and nothing can be upheld in the round.

My criterion for this round will be Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is the greatest good for the greatest number of people; basically I'm saying that it is any outcome with a desirable end. If rehabilitation can prevent a criminal from committing a crime, rather than just a little slap on the hand punishment, then we will be achieving the greatest good for the greatest number of people and the Affirmative is achieving Societal Good.

Contention 1 – Reasoning for Repeat Offenders
According to Associated Content in 2007, more than 50 percent of all crimes are committed by re-offenders, and 40 percent to 60 percent of parolees return to prison. In Texas, half of the juvenile offenders become repeat offenders. According to a 1994 study by the U.S. Department of Justice, more than two-thirds of released prisoners were arrested within three years, with more than half of those returning to prison. These rates are so high because the prison system has no level of support for the criminal to re-enter society. After they leave, criminals frequently have little education, a hard time getting jobs and have to return home, which is usually the basis for criminal activity. By separating prison from rehabilitation, the criminal has something to work forward to and a base of support. A great example of this was in 1967, when a petty man, who beat up an old woman for a few bucks, was given the option, by the judge, to go to jail or enlist in the military. After having structure in his life and a base of support, he was a changed man and did not return to jail ever again. His normal behavior use to be mean and violent and he changed to become a prominent member in society. By giving criminals a reason to live, not only would they be benefitting society by no longer breaking the law, but they would also be benefitting themselves.

Contention 2 – The rehab process
Rehabilitation should mainly be for the first time offender, and rare for the repeat criminal. As a reward for successful completion of the program, the criminal would receive a complete erasure of their criminal record, so the individual can re-enter society with a clean slate. The program must be tough, comprising both education and internal character building. Educational goals should be established for each person. The non-high school graduate would complete high school, not a GED, and complete some college courses. The high school graduate would be required to complete an associate degree. A boot camp style environment will set the tone of the rehabilitation to ensure that it is a complete success. Rehab would be giving criminals a second chance and would benefit society since they would be able to enter the work force, not just as a low level employee, but as an upstanding member of society.

Contention 3 – Prison is ineffective
When a criminal goes to jail, not only are they not changing their circumstances, but they're making them worse. They will continue having nothing to live for and no basis of support, but they will also receive a criminal record that will hinder any upstanding future they may have. For criminals who are committing minor crimes, they still have a chance to be rehabilitated and can still have a prosperous future.
TombLikeBomb

Con

You propose a punishment at whose end the offender has an "associate degree", a high-level job, and a "reason to live". And all I have to do is commit a crime? If your 1967 example is any indication, this will only have a negative effect on deterrence. But what about those of us who are foolish enough to believe it's wrong to break the law? If we're undereducated and underemployed, we'll have to starve while our criminal brethren rise to positions normally occupied by "upstanding members of society". Is that really a recipe for long-term "societal good": social mobility by criminality? Wouldn't it be better to spend the vast amount of money this program would require on the at-risk communities themselves? Instead of hiring drill sergeants to try to persuade criminals to look for jobs, why not use that money to help CREATE jobs? I don't think the spiking unemployment rate is the result in a sudden increase in "character" defects, although the reverse causality is normal.

This plan resembles the dynamic in O. Henry's "The Cop and the Anthem". When you make life on the inside more lucrative than life on the outside, you invite crime. As you admit that lack of education is a contributor to crime, solve that problem by subsidizing education in inverse proportion to means. In the Nordic countries they even pay allowances (in addition to free education) to students, and they have exceptionally low crime rates. By disposing of public money that way, instead of on expensive colleges just for criminals, we would be putting the carrot back on the outside. Much of the reason people opt not to further their education is after all its cost in money and time, which itself could be used to acquire means for immediate survival (perhaps illegally). And a "low-level job" is, as you suggest, little better. Keep jails the way they are today (places of incapacitation and general deterrence) or replace them with fines or other punishment, but I see no utility in spending a penny on "rehabilitation" that could be spent on preventing the situations that contribute to the behavior to begin with. Let the free education and employment service be the analogy to the church in the O. Henry story, not just another reason to go to jail.

Your plan also begs the question, what of the repeat offenders? You say they won't be eligible for "rehabilitation", which is odd, considering they're the ones least likely to learn their lesson from a simple jail term. But you introduced your plan as an unqualified replacement of jail time with rehabilitation. The status quo is that first-time offenders very rarely serve jail time, which goes primarily to repeat offenders. Am I to take it that repeat offenders will no longer be jailed, or that this plan replaces only a minority of jail time with rehabilitation?

The expungement issue is separate from the rehabilitation issue. As you admit, "rehabilitation" will not completely prevent recidivism; therefore, expungement is simply a choice you are making in order to make it easier for the criminal to re-enter society. But expungement can be and often is made available even in the wake of normal, nominally non-rehabilitative jail sentences. If unemployment is what causes recidivism, and if criminal records are the barriers to employment, wouldn't the problem be solved by simple expungement?
Debate Round No. 1
littlelacroix

Pro

Alright, I would first like to point out to my Judges that this is suppose to be an LD round according to the tournament format on Cazoic. We are not debating plans, as that would be policy; we are suppose to be debating values. Thus, since my opponent hasn't presented a value or criterion, and doing so in the next round would be abusive to the Pro side, Pro then takes both the value and criterion debates. Now, since my opponent has posted arguments that resemble contentions, I will continue the debate by refuting his arguments.

1) So basically what you are saying here is that it's okay to let criminals go to prison, for up to a year as the resolution states (misdemeanor crimes), let them out and, as I mentioned before, have two thirds of them commit yet another crime and go back to prison. How exactly are we achieving societal good by letting criminals off easy so they will once again commit a crime? I'll agree, we need to help the poor, yet, upstanding members of society, but that is an entire different policy debate. We are looking solely to helping the members of society who turn to crime as a measure of desperation and that we need to help them become upstanding members of society.

2) On this argument, I'll admit, there are always people trying to cheat the system, getting a free education by committing a crime, but I would prefer a few people cheating the system rather than letting criminals back into society with so much as a slap one the hand. While the people that cheat the system will commit a small crime, they will later enter society and once again become a member of society. If however, criminals don't receive rehab, they will spend less than a year in prison and will more than likely return to prison. Moreover, they will return to prison usually based on a single crime, the one that they were caught for. What about crimes that they weren't caught for? The people cheating the system will commit only one crime and make sure they get caught, but a regular criminal will do everything in their power to avoid getting caught and that may mean that they are successful on occasion. For overall societal good, taking a few cheaters of the system would be better than not treating those who actually need help, who would commit more than one crime.

3) What I am basically saying here is that ALL first time offenders should undergo some form of rehab so that we can prevent them from committing crime again. Repeat offenders are usually stubborn in their ways and are harder to rehabilitate, which is why we need to start with the first time offenders. Here, in the long term, we would be preventing for larger numbers of repeat offenders which will be the best societal good. Furthermore, on your argument, if they don't receive jail time, than they are off topic because we are specifically talking about replacing jail time with rehabilitation.

4) Expungement, along with education, is a part of rehab. Together, the two are working side by side to prevent recidivism, but nothing is 100%. And, again, expungement isn't just the reason for it, but it's a combination of everything together in rehab, thus it can't be solved with minor jail time either.

Now, again, since Pro has offered a valid Value and Criterion, that went completely un-argued, Pro wins that debate. The prior arguments are only the contentions that back up the rest of my case. I the end, only the Pro is able to achieve Societal Good through Utilitarianism and thus is the only side that is able to properly support the resolution. Thank you
TombLikeBomb

Con

First of all, your value and value criterion were identical. Or what is the difference between "Societal Good" and "Utilitarianism" (defined "greatest good for the greatest number")? I accepted your value (as is common in LD debates), and necessarily your value criterion, vague as they (it) were (was). You had one contention, essentially: Contention 1/Contention 3. The "Reasoning [Reason] for Repeat Offenders" is of course that "Prison is ineffective". You spend Contention 1 trying to establish the title of Contention 3, and you spend Contention 3 repeating Contention 1. And what exactly does "ineffective" mean? From reading and rereading what you wrote and rewrote, I can only see it as meaning "ineffective at significantly rehabilitating prisoners". But isn't that just a presupposition of the resolution? It is as if the resolution were "football should be replaced by baseball" and your contention "football is ineffective at being baseball". I cannot and will not disagree. What you failed to do was to demonstrate that rehabilitation as you define it would be more utilitarian PER SE, as opposed to simply more useful for its purpose. Consequently, I got to my own arguments right away and did not bother refuting the irrefutable (and irrelevant). Contention 2, by the way, was not a contention at all. It was a plan, and I know how you feel about plans.

1) Is it true that anything other than "helping the members of society who turn to crime as a measure of desperation and that we need to help them become upstanding members of society" "would be an entire different policy debate"? The resolution does not get so specific, nor does your value, nor does your criterion. There are two utilitarian reasons why spending scarce resources on rehabilitation would be wrong:

Negative Deterrence:
In your anecdote, the convicted chose VIETNAM over incarceration. When rehabilitation, as in your plan, doesn't involve the threat of death, won't it be even MORE attractive? Won't your "boot camp" serve as even less of a deterrent than Vietnam, which in turn was less of a deterrent than the current system? Jail is not "letting criminals off easy". A free education and high-level job is letting them off easy.

Opportunity Cost:
If there is recidivist crime, there is first-time crime. There will never be a day in which there is a recidivism problem without a problem of first offenses. Scarcity dictates that to say, "Misdemeanor jail-time should be replaced with significant rehabilitation," is necessarily to say, "At a certain point, we should give up on preventing first offenses." If education and jobs prevent recidivism, wouldn't they also prevent first offenses? The difference is that when you focus these charities on the AT RISK COMMUNITIES, you provide an incentive NOT TO commit crime. When you focus on CRIMINALS, you provide an incentive TO commit crime IN THE FIRST PLACE. The day there are no first-time offenses, rehabilitation will have no meaning, so I must reject the resolution as an anti-utilitarian use of scarce resources and as having its priorities in the order opposite what deterrence demands. "Jail time" is cheaper than your plan and thus leaves more money for early prevention or even worthier causes. Sorry to be so vulgar as to mention money, but it is because of the vulgar criterion Utilitarianism.

2) If a repeat offender is less savable than a first-time offender, doesn't it follow that a first-time offender is less savable than an innocent? Your reason for helping people before they've been caught for their second crime is my reason for helping them before they've been caught for their first: the more crimes people have been caught for, the more "stubborn in their [criminal] ways" they likely are. But though we have identical reasons, you've made the arbitrary choice of the assumedly second crime as the one to focus on preventing. And your rhetorical question, "What about crimes that they weren't caught for", is a double-edged sword. What about the crimes the "first time offender" wasn't caught for? They'll be quite a lot, probably, with all your plan's lack of deterrence. And let's remember that the only reason your plan can only be cheated once per person is that you only give people one chance to be rehabilitated. But yet we know that many people aren't rehabilitated until they've been through the process several times. So second is the only chance people really get, and if your rehabilitation were more "significant" it would be even more lucrative for the criminal.

3) One thing from Round 1 that I should clarify is the effect I called "social mobility by criminality". It is not only anti-utilitarian in the sense that the promise of social mobility is incentive, but also in the sense that social mobility is power. The money for rehabilitation will presumably be coming from society, through taxes, not out of thin air. So it is appropriate to speak in terms of relative social mobility.

4) Let's talk about "desperation" as a cause of crime. Desperation causes people to disregard long-term consequences. Especially before your plan is enacted, the long-term consequences of high-risk incidents of crime tend to be negative. By rewarding crime as you propose, we elevate criminals to a level of less desperation, at which there is little for their moral weakness to combine with to yield high-risk crime. Such a criminal, the "rehabilitated" kind, will not likely get caught very often from now on. In the future, his crimes may even be so sophisticated as to be technically legal.

5) What will happen to the general value of an associate's degree and especially the value of an associate's degree to men and minorities? As it is, people have to get associate's degrees during the normal struggle of life, amidst the normal temptations and distractions, and using their own finite supply of time and money. It shows they have a fair amount of intelligence and reliability. Whereas it may have taken an exponent of your system 10 years in associate's degree boot camp, but that's all expunged.

Now again, as "Societal Good through Utilitarianism" is tautological nonsense, Pro has not offered a "valid Value and Criterion". I see no need to go outside of the broad category utilitarianism in order to prove my point, and therefore I will continue to challenge neither the Value nor its rewording the Criterion. Con also continues to violate the resolution (replacement of misdemeanor jail time with rehabilitation) with his glaring exception: repeat offenders, the primary recipients of current misdemeanor jail time. He turned this into a policy debate with his manifesto "The rehab process". He even put the debate in the wrong category and gave it a wrong time limit, for Christ's sake. My only hope is that the judges take mercy on Pro and allow the debate to be won or lost on substantive grounds.
Debate Round No. 2
littlelacroix

Pro

Alright, since you are now bringing this up in the second round, I will clarify. Societal good is what I am valuing and Utilitarianism is my criterion by which I am achieving Societal Good. Utilitarianism is any ACTION that creates the greatest good for the greatest number of people. For example, upholding the resolution is an action that carries out the greatest good. Had you mentioned this earlier in the debate, I would've clarified it then.

Furthermore, I would just like to point out, once again, that you have no case in this round. You have not set up a case with a value, criterion or even contentions. You're entire argument is basically refutation of my own contentions. I would presume that you've never debated LD before since you, as the Neg, haven't provided any case whatsoever.

As far as your attack on my Contention 1 and 3, the two are very similar, but they are just clarifying as much as possible. In both of those contentions, along with contention 2, I prove that rehabilitation is a better process than putting people in jail for less than a year. And as far as your football and baseball argument, you're comparing apples and oranges. If Brett Favre was able to play both football and baseball, then you could compare the two. But since that is not the situation, you absolutely cannot compare the two. Unlike that however, we are looking to the resolution to determine if rehabilitation is a better alternative to jail. They are both consequences of the same crime and thus we can argue the two as such. Furthermore, since you say that you cannot and will not disagree with the Pro's arguments, then you openly admit that the Pro is right. And I have proven that rehab is more utilitarian than jail. It will prevent people from repeating crimes, some of which the criminals may not even get caught for, than having a few more first time offenders. Thus we are preventing more crimes by professionals through rehabs, making the greatest good for the community. And you don't refute my arguments because they are irrefutable, rather because you obviously don't understand them.

And on my Contention 2, it's not a plan, it's clarifying the resolution. Since the resolution specifically states "significant rehabilitation," I am simply clarifying what significant means. Plans like what you attempt to bring up, include a plan set in stone, followed by how it will be instituted. That is why this is not a policy argument, rather it's a clarification. When you talk about the money to institute my "plan," that is when it becomes a policy argument.

1) Again, this is LD debate and not policy, and since you don't understand that, I will come back later and explain it in greater detail.

"Negative Deterrence"
Did you seriously compare Vietnam to jail? Vietnam is less of a deterrent than jail? Are you kidding me? This is just plain ignorance! And furthermore on this argument, it's not that rehab is suppose to be a deterrent, it's offering support and structure which is beneficial to those who need it. Also on this argument, you mention that rehab is the easy way out. Not really. Which would be harder, sitting in a minimum security jail cell for less than a year or working hard to earn their freedom back into society? Obviously working hard is more difficult than sitting around doing nothing.

"Opportunity Cost"
This is an entirely nonsensical argument, with absolutely no refutation, that you are just repeating from before. As I said already, I would prefer several more fist time offenders than letting criminals make a career out of it. More times than not, those criminals get away with several crimes that are never solved. If cheaters of the system want to get arrested to go through rehab, they will commit a single crime and make sure that they get caught, thus there is barely any harm to the community. Thus we would be taking the action that creates the greatest good for the greatest number, sound familiar. Utilitarianism isn't vulgar like you suggest, thus by upholding the Pro Side, we actually can achieve societal good, unlike the Con side.

2) Once again you are turning this into a policy round by trying to institute the actual plan, so I will try and go along with your argument. The US military is currently spending more money than the rest of the world combined. If you are so worried about saving the education system for innocent people as well, why don't we pull some money from the military budget and achieve both plans. Thus we could improve the education system and carry out proper rehabilitation for those still committing crimes. Although the education system is being improved, it would take many years for it to have a major effect on crime rates, so by instituting both plans, we could improve the justice system currently. We can prevent recidivism and help innocent people at the same time. Does that make you feel better that we've created a means to achieve both? It's rather ridiculous that I even had to argue this, but now we can institute a plan for both you and I to get what we want, so thanks for wasting more time.

3) Again, tie this back to my argument that having a few first time offenders is better than letting criminals make a career out of crime. By allowing "social mobility" through crime, you may once again be letting a few cheaters pass the system, but you will also be preventing the criminals from constantly getting away with crimes.

4) This argument is rather ridiculous. You are saying that by rewarding a criminal, they become even more desperate. There is absolutely no logic in this argument. Furthermore, you are saying that crimes will become so sophisticated that they are technically legal. But once again, this is ridiculous. In what world would we be educating criminals to make them better criminals? I ask any judges of this round to completely disregard this argument.

5) Here you are disregarding one major factor, only high school graduates will need to get an associates degree. When the criminals have dropped out of high school, they would only be required to finish high school. Since America's drop out rates are so high, it is quite likely that they must just have to get their diploma, rather than a degree.

Finally, you need to make sure that you watch out when you mention the Pro and Con sides in your argument. According to your last argument, the judges should take mercy on me. However, I do agree with you on that since you don't even know how to debate LD. I may have given it the wrong category and time limit by accident, by why, may I ask, are you in an LD tournament when you don't even know how to debate it properly? The Con side, my opponent, has NEVER present an actual case of his own, especially his lacking value and criterion. Even IF I was willing to submit to his arguments on my value and criterion, he doesn't have one of his own, so either way, Pro wins the value and criterion debate. I certainly hope, that as my opponent suggested, that you take mercy on the Pro and vote on actual LD voting issues. Thank you and good luck to my opponent in any future rounds in the tournament.
TombLikeBomb

Con

I'm only bringing up your violations in the second round because you only decided to try to disqualify me in the second round. I can't see into the future, littlelacroix. I was perfectly happy to let your violations slide. "Societal good is what I am valuing and Utilitarianism is my criterion by which I am achieving Societal Good" is not a clarification. I thought I explained this in Round 2. One cannot achieve x by x. "Utilitarianism is any ACTION that creates the greatest good for the greatest number of people"? It's ASSUMED that the value criterion will honor the value. It's insufficient to define the criterion, "anything according to the value". Show me that you're doing anything but rephrasing the value, and I'll validate your criterion.

"You're entire argument is basically refutation of my own contentions" in that it has to do with the prison system. I can't very well change the topic.

"If Brett Favre was able to play both football and baseball, then you could compare the two." I agree, Brett Favre cannot play baseball, so why did you try to evaluate jail according to its rehabilitative potential?

"Furthermore, since you say that you cannot and will not disagree with the Pro's arguments, then you openly admit that the Pro is right." You insult the judges' intelligence. What I could not and would not disagree with was that rehabilitation is better at rehabilitation than the alternative. But it is your choice to measure utility in terms of rehabilitation. I've argued against that throughout.

As to the resolution, you are "simply clarifying what significant means"? I take it, then, that every Pro in the tournament concurs? You did get quite specific, quite a bit more than "clarification". Believe me, I don't need you to clarify. The resolution was self-explanatory.

"Vietnam is less of a deterrent than jail?" I know! So why the hell did YOU provide an anecdote in which the convicted chose Vietnam instead of jail? That should inform the following: "Which would be harder, sitting in a minimum security jail cell for less than a year or working hard to earn their freedom back into society?" The question, of course, is not which is "harder", but which is preferable. The man in your anecdote craved structure like a child, and we have no reason to believe he was an exception. The poor masses would certainly prefer "working hard" for what your system promises, as opposed to languishing in poverty.

Why do you obsess on "cheaters of the system"? Your rehab plan fails by REDUCING deterrence, not by turning deterrence into net incentive. But even if your plan succeeded beyond your wildest dreams, and people preferred rehab to civilian life, why would they strive to get caught? They might as well milk criminal life for all its worth, only increasing risk according to the benefits of your incarceration.

What does the "military budget" have to do with anything? If expensive "rehabilitation" is being chosen over cheap "jail time", then money is being wasted. The greater budget situation is quite apart.

"You are saying that by rewarding a criminal, they become even more desperate." I'm saying quite the contrary, that the rewarded criminal becomes LESS desperate. Thus, no "education" is necessary for to make his crimes more sophisticated. The sophisticated crime is the natural result of the comfort you provide.

"When the criminals have dropped out of high school, they would only be required to finish high school." Really? But in Round 1 you clearly state, "The non-high school graduate would complete high school, not a GED, and complete some college courses." I'm only going by your "clarification" of the rehab process, you understand. And yet I'm still unsure as to what separates "some college courses" from "associate's degree".

As my opponent has banked his entire debate on disqualifying me, I shall have to deal with that. Let's talk about Societal Good, as opposed to "the greatest good for the greatest number" ("Utilitarianism"). What's the difference? One is "ACTION"! Is that how an LD debate is supposed to go? That the Criterion is merely a conversion of the Value into "ACTION"?
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Metz 8 years ago
Metz
"guys... if you actually read anything about utilitrianism... it's not "greatest good for the greatest number" that's a crude bastardization that many debaters use."

You are my hero... I am so tired of being told Util is GGG#.... Its the maximization of net utility(balance of pleasure over pain)

I personally prefer Neg. Util over standard util
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
Pro claimed utilitarianism as a value. Con can then use that value and claim that negating the resolution advances the value more than affirming it.
Posted by burningpuppies101 8 years ago
burningpuppies101
it was..
Posted by birdpiercefan3334 8 years ago
birdpiercefan3334
Wasn't this supposed to be an LD debate con?
Posted by Bnesiba 8 years ago
Bnesiba
guys... if you actually read anything about utilitrianism... it's not "greatest good for the greatest number" that's a crude bastardization that many debaters use.

utilitarianism holds that i action is right in proportion that it tends to increase happiness and wrong in proportion that it tends to augment the reverse of happiness. by happiness is intended pleasure and the prevention of pain, by unhappiness: pain and the privation of pleasure.

so.. whatever creastes the most happiness and least pain is the most right action.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Excessum 8 years ago
Excessum
littlelacroixTombLikeBombTied
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Vote Placed by littlelacroix 8 years ago
littlelacroix
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RoyLatham
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birdpiercefan3334
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