In the criminal justice system, more emphasis should be put on retribution than rehabilitation
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Debate Rounds (5)
This debate is for round 1 of Lannan13's February Beginner's Tournament. The contestants for this match are 1harderthanyouthink and YamaVonKarma. The mentors are Debatability for 1harderthanyouthink and BLAHthedebator for YamaVonKarma.
In the criminal justice system, more emphasis should be put on retribution than rehabilitation
PRO - YamaVonKarma
CON - 1harderthanyouthink
R1. Pro constructs case
R2. Con constructs case/Pro rebuts
R3. Con rebuts/Pro defends case
R4. Con defends case/Pro rebuts & summarizes
R5. Con rebuts & summarizes/Pro waives
1. No forfeiting
2. No trolling
3. Citations must be within the rounds
4. No new arguments in each respective final round
5. The definitions as given in the R1 are not to be argued
6. BoP is to be shared
retribution - A system of criminal justice based on the punishment of offenders rather than on rehabilitation.
rehabilitation - Restore (someone) to health or normal life by training and therapy after imprisonment
To avoid poor votes being cast, a base of 2500 Elo has been set to vote. I also remind all that the fellow contestants of this tournaments are not allowed to vote. For reference, these people are dsjpk5, Dpowell, The-Voice-of-Truth, Varrack, That1User, and RevNge.
Thank you Yama, and good luck.
I welcome Con as my opponent.
Without further ado, I shalt begin building my case.
Crime: an illegal act for which someone can be punished by the government.
Felony: a crime for which the punishment in federal law may be death or imprisonment for more than one year.
Capital Punishment: the death penalty for crime.
Recidivism: a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior;especially : relapse into criminal behavior
Cite: Merraim Webster
Before I begin on my case, I will state a fact. I am arguing for the punishment of criminals who have commited Felonies such as:
-Illegal Drug Sales
-Income Tax Evasion
- Incarciration and rehabilitation often fail, execution does not.
According to a study carried out by the National Institute of Justice themselves, the current rates of Recidivism are currently very high in America.
"Bureau of Justice Statistics studies have found high rates of recidivism among released prisoners. One study tracked 404,638 prisoners in 30 states after their release from prison in 2005. The researchers found that:
- Time in prison just makes criminals worse.
While in prison, a harmless criminal can become indroctrinated and trained by more violent ones. Hereby rendering the thought of using prisons as rehabilitation facilities mute.
- What gives someone the right to kill and live?
No human has the right to unjustly take a life or victimize another without suffering consequences equal to or greater than their actions inflicted. That is a fact.
If they were somehow given that right, what forbids the Victim or the Victim's Family from pursueing vengance? Or even a Purge like scenrio becoming common place?
- Executions should be cheaper.
As it stands now, it costs approximately $90,000 to house an inmate on death row and the state of Califronia alone spends $250 Million on every execution. According to a study conducted by the Los Angeles Times in 2005, this is around $114 Million dollars more than the cost of keeping a criminal imprisioned for life.
For the price of twenty American dollars, I can buy a length of rope and execute a criminal. This alone would save taxpayers millions.
1. The rate of incarceration in the United States
According to the International Centre for Prison Studies at the University of Essex’s World Prison Population List, 10th edition , the United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world: 716 people per 100,000 are imprisoned. Within five years of release, over two-thirds of prisoners are rearrested .
2. Why is the recidivism rate so high?
Dr. Joan Petersilia, who once worked as an advisor to former Governor Arnold Schwarzanegger , said that she found in 2007 that the state of California only spent $3,000 per prisoner per year on rehabilitative programs . She concluded that “the CDC does not offer a sufficient range of rehabilitation programs, and some significant programs are missing altogether.”  She then noted that there was not a single program in the California’s prison system for sex offenders. She then noted how many people were using the rehabilitative programs.
“For example, for the approximately 134,000 prisoners who left CA prisons in 2006 just 7% will have participated in substance abuse programs, (about 10,000 of the 134,000 prisoners exiting), just 10% will have participated in vocational education or prison industries (about 8,800), 20% of all exiting prisoners will have been in the Bridging education program an in-cell life skills program operating in reception centers, and about 18% will have participated in more traditional classroom academic education, (GED, and some college programs).”
This is an obvious problem, as there is a very large number of people (50%, according to Petersilia) who are not in rehabilitative programs. Also, states do not spend enough on rehabilitative programs. She notes: “Of the $43,287 spent annually per inmate in California, just $2,053 (5%) is spent on rehabilitation programming.”
3. Alternative methods to the American system
The Resolve to Stop The Violence Project was created by the San Francisco County Sheriff’s Department in 1997, and James Gilligan and Bandy Lee studied the results of it when they were on the faculty of Harvard University .
“The three main components that make up RSVP include: offender accountability, victim restoration and community involvement. Goals of the programme are to reduce recidivism and to promote offender accountability by: (1) taking responsibility for one’s actions and accepting the possibility for change; (2) identifying and analysing the social, cultural and personal belief systems that promote one’s violent behaviour; (3) recognizing that one has a choice at the critical time of violent response; (4) increasing awareness of the effects of one’s behaviour and empathy for victims; and (5) preparing to take on a restorative role when back in the community.”
According to the study, the overall rate of recidivism in those that participated dropped 48.3%, and that those who spent twelve weeks in a regular prison were two times as likely to be rearrested than an inmate who spent twelve weeks in RSVP, and those who spent sixteen weeks or more in a regular prison were five times as likely to be rearrested than someone who spent sixteen weeks or more in RSVP.
The current penal system in the United States does not do enough to rehabilitate their inmates, and thus rehabilitation should not be considered a failure: especially with the success of rehabilitative programs such as as the Resolve to Stop the Violence Project. Therefore, the lack of funding and lack of participation in the programs US prisons offer are the causation to the extremely high recidivism rate, not the failure of the nature of rehabilitative programs. Thus, I conclude that more emphasis should be put on rehabilitative programs to maximize efficiency in preventing recidivism.
America's Prison Population
Accepted, America has the World's Largest Prison Population.
Also according to the International Center for Prison Studies, Zhong Guo (Hence forth referred to as China) has world's second largest Prison Population . America currently has 2,228,424 people imprisoned; this is due largely to America's life imprisonment. To quote whowhatwhy.org 
"With 40,362 lifers, California had one-quarter of the country"s life-sentenced population. Other lifer-leading states were Florida (12,549), New York (10,245), Texas (9,031), Georgia (7,938), Ohio (6,075), Michigan (5,137), Pennsylvania (5,104) and Louisiana (4,657)"
According to research carried out by the VERA Institute, Californian tax payers alone pay approximately $47,421 per inmate annually . According to the International Center for Prison Studies, China has 1,701,344 people imprisoned; 527,080 less people that America. This is largely due to China's far more strict manner of handling Criminals. A case of this comparison would be the crime of Drug Trafficking. In America, the act of Drug Trafficking carries a minimum sentence of fines or time spent in prison. While in China, Drug Trafficking is a mandatory death sentence .
Rehabilitation over Retaliation
In countering the argument that America needs to focus more on rehabilitation to lower rates of recidivism, I will cite my argument from above regarding China's more strict method of punishment. The beauty of China's law enforcement system is that it it get's results. China has one of the lowest rates of Recidivism in the world: commonly held to be around 5%-10%  . This is a stark contrast to America's 76.6% as of 2005 ; as concluded by a selective study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics .
In summary, America would be quite better off if it began behaving more like China. Thanks to China's rather unique and often sketchy practices reguarding the handling of Criminals, they have managed a feat most Western societies can only dream of. They have almost completely nullified their rate of Recendivism.
1. Yama’s restrictive list of felonies
Yama begins his arguments by keeping “crime” to a select list of punishable things, and completely disregards other crime in doing so. For a retributive system, all crimes must be punished. Since he’s restricting himself to his list of crimes, he’s rendering his argument irrelevant.
2. Yama’s proposal to fix the recidivism rate
In his argument, he cites the recidivism rate in the US. Yama concedes, here, that retributive incarceration fails, and that it does not reduce recidivism.
But, he says that all criminals should be executed. However, since Yama is limiting himself to only eight crimes, he suggests nothing for fixing the recidivism of all others.
Then, he goes on to say that in prison, criminals’ behavior is worsened by other criminals, and that prisons are not suitable for rehabilitation. In my argument, I showed two things: that prisoners generally do not use rehabilitative programs while incarcerated, and that alternative methods that stress rehabilitation, such as RSVP, do indeed work in reducing recidivism by a substantial amount.
Building on my constructive: if more money were to be put into rehabilitative programs, and prisoners were required to partake in rehabilitative programs: prisoners would be surrounded by an environment designed to better themselves for the future, rather than the current system, which simply them with criminals that can enhance their illegal activity. As I noted, in California, there is no program for rehabilitating convicted sex offenders. With a lack of programs to improve the behavior of criminals, it is predictable that they would repeat their actions. To fix this, an implementation of systems such as the one RSVP used would lower recidivism rates considerably. Such a proposal would be more effective than Yama’s: as he has restricted himself to fixing the recidivism rates of people that committed one of only eight crimes.
3. Yama’s morality argument
Yama states that if someone kills another or victimizes another person, they (the murderer/victimizer) do not deserve to live. He attempts to pass this off as objective, but does not go into detail about why this should be.
Also, all crimes are not equal in regards to severity. Someone who kills ten people is eligible to be given the death penalty, but small-scale marijuana dealer cannot be given the same sentence. Until Yama has given reasoning that they should be given the same sentence, this argument has not been properly proven.
He then goes on and questions: if the perpetrator of a violent crime is given the right to live, what stops vengeance, or even a full “purge”? Here, Yama employs the slippery slope fallacy, suggesting that if violent criminals live, society would seek large amounts of vigilante justice . Under US law, killing anyone is murder. If a victim’s family were to kill the murderer, they would be convicted of murder. Thus, vengeance cannot be attained through such means without consequence.
4. Yama’s argument on cost
Yama argues that executions should be cheaper, but the argument does not note one crucial thing: executions themselves are not the bulk of the cost of death row. Executions by lethal injection may cost a few thousand dollars per person, but the court cases and the housing of inmates cost far more than the executions themselves. According to research done at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, in Maryland :
“An average capital-eligible case with a death notice costs the taxpayers of Maryland about $1.8 million. In other words, each case with a death notice filing costs $670,000 more than a no-death-notice case. Current and forecasted prison costs are about the same ($950,000 per case), but adjudication costs are more than three times greater ($850,000 per case) than in no-death-notice cases.”
Thus, becoming cheaper in methods would not mean much in regards to the cost of the death penalty. For this to be implemented on a large scale would mean an unjustifiable cost burdened on the country.
If this money were to be used in rehabilitation, recidivism rates would be lowered. As I noted in my constructive, California only spends a bit over $2,000 per prisoner in rehabilitation. If the money were to be used to implement systems similar to RSVP on a large scale, recidivism would be lowered: as such experimental programs showed.
Yama’s argument to reduce recidivism isn’t effective from the beginning, as he only is talking about the punishment for eight felonies: that those who commit them ought to be executed. Since his plan apparently does not consider all other offenses, it could not be relied upon to reduce the crime rate. He concedes that incarceration often fails, and says that rehabilitation does as well: but does not give evidence to back this up. However, I did give evidence that those who partake in rehabilitative programs have lower recidivism rates than those who are incarcerated. Yama simply states that rehabilitation is ineffective, where I compared the two with the RSVP argument. Then, in rejecting both retributive incarceration and rehabilitative programs, he backs himself into a corner with justifying the execution of everyone who commits the eight crimes he listed. He does not prove his moral argument, rather simply suggesting things and asserting his idea of objective morality with nothing behind it. And finally, his cost argument fails, as he only suggests fixing an extremely small part of the problem.
1. Felony List Defense
" For a retributive system, all crimes must be punished. Since he’s restricting himself to his list of crimes, he’s rendering his argument irrelevant."
The above is a falsehood that my opponent is attempting to pass off as truth. At no point did I agree that all crimes would have to be punished equally under the system of increased punishment I propose. Therefore, limitations are to be imposed at my leisure. Meaning that I would not see a common skateboarder put to the axe as I would a rapist.
2. Recidivism Rate Defense
"But, he says that all criminals should be executed. However, since Yama is limiting himself to only eight crimes, he suggests nothing for fixing the recidivism of all others."
The above is another falsehood my opponent is attempting to pass off as truth. My opponent proposes that I have limited myself to eight crimes, while I have limited myself to felonies in general. Of which there are more than twenty.
"Building on my constructive: if more money were to be put into rehabilitative programs, and prisoners were required to partake in rehabilitative programs: prisoners would be surrounded by an environment designed to better themselves for the future, rather than the current system, which simply them with criminals that can enhance their illegal activity. As I noted, in California, there is no program for rehabilitating convicted sex offenders. With a lack of programs to improve the behavior of criminals, it is predictable that they would repeat their actions. To fix this, an implementation of systems such as the one RSVP used would lower recidivism rates considerably. Such a proposal would be more effective than Yama’s: as he has restricted himself to fixing the recidivism rates of people that committed one of only eight crimes."
Here my opponent has made a statement with no evidence to back it. Upon personal research (Google), I hath discovered that there is no research that proves rehabilitiative programs help lower the chances of a sex offender being rearested. Despite interesting priliminary resuslts, the general consensus is that more conclusive and through research into the subject is needed . While I may be arguing that felonies such as rape should be punished with greater severity, I am not so much a monster as to entertain the notion that an innocent life should be put at risk for furthering the research into the minds of the deranged.
3. Defending Morality Argument
In defending my case for morality, I will compare the thoughts of two great minds. Both men are right in their own sense.
Mahatma Ghandi believed that "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind". Here Ghandi argues that the act of seeking revenge will inevitably lead to the entire world being caught in an endless cycle of revenge.
However Niccolo Machiavelli had another take on that same ideal, as stated in chapter seventeen of The Prince "Here a question arises: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse. The answer is, of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved". Here, Machiavelli argues that the act of sparing a criminal or anyone from the spear of their ruler will inevitably be counter productive for the ruler and ignored; as it should be.
Therefore, I see no reason someone should not be able to execute a known criminal if said criminal has commited murder themselves.
1. Yama’s China argument
Yama proposes that the US adopt a system similar to China. In China, 68 crimes make one eligible for capital punishment . China’s own goal is much less violent than Yama’s proposed system is. They say, on their website ,
“People can be reformed. The great majority of criminals can also be reformed. Turning minuses into pluses and changing criminals into people who are useful to society are in conformity with the great Marxist ideal of liberating all of mankind. Consistent with this understanding, China does not simply punish criminals; instead it emphasizes reform and change for the better. Therefore, even in the case of criminals who have committed serious offenses, China has always adhered to its laws and policies, which call for a minimum number of executions.”
Yama proposes we be strict like China, as he states that they put drug traffickers to death, whereas we simply imprison them. But, this (the death penalty) is not their main focus. From Yama’s source :
“China firmly believes that people, including most criminals, can be rehabilitated. It is the basic target of China’s policy of correction that criminals should become law-abiding citizens who can lead independent lives.
Directed by this thought, China’s criminal punishment policy is focused on corrections rather than straightforward punishment. During the process of correction, the focus is on the implementation of the principles of humanism and education, and great attention is paid to the criminals’ conscious correction through labour, morality, culture, technology and so forth. By these means, criminals can become law-abiding citizens, giving up the intention to commit crime to fulfill their greed. China adopts the measure of combining special State penal organs with civic society organizations. The main task of correction is undertaken by the penal executive organs in prisons. At the same time, other departments and social strata contribute their efforts to support and co-ordinate criminal correction throughout the whole process, which extends to matters such as living arrangements after release and employment of the released prisoners.”
It is clear that the China system’s, according to Yama’s sources, main focus is not recidivism. Yama’s proposition says that we should take China’s system because it, according to him, comes down much harder on criminal activity. But, China does not actually use this system to Yama’s proposed extent, according to his sources.
“In judicial practice in China, the overwhelming majority of criminals who are punishable by death with a suspension of execution are spared the death penalty.” 
Also, a problem with implementing the death penalty on a larger scale would be that it would prove to be extremely costly. In a country where cases where capital punishment is eligible can cost up to $1.8 million , it would be unreasonable to execute at a higher rate: as it would be too much of a burden on taxpayers.
2. Unaddressed points
Yama hardly addresses my argument. He cites the Chinese system, which I have now proved to be not the one that Yama proposes: but rather one that stresses rehabilitation. He does not address my RSVP study, and he simply states that China gets results. For good measure, I will quote the Chinese government’s website again .
“In the reform of criminals, China operates on the principle that education is very important, attaching great importance to physical labour in addition to legal, moral, cultural and technical education to encourage criminals to stop looking at time in prison as a forced prison term and think more in terms of conscientious reform, to give up the idea of obtaining personal gain through criminal means, to form the habit of respecting other people and society in general, and to obtain the work skills needed for later employment so that they may become law-abiding citizens.”
This doesn’t quite go well with Yama’s contention that China gets results due its “far more strict manner of handling criminals”. It actually shows that the Chinese wish to rehabilitate their criminals, rather than simply punish them.
Yama states that China is more strict and that is why they have a lower recidivism rate. He does not pull much information from the sources that he used. His own sources: one from the Chinese government’s website, dictate that China has a focus of reforming convicted criminals: not putting them all to death. This is where the argument dies: because China does not kill everyone who is eligible for the death penalty: as I cited from Yama’s source earlier.
From reading about China’s system from Yama’s sources, the apparent focus of the system is rehabilitation-first, and then harsher punishments come into play. The death penalty is not exclusive from rehabilitation, and it doesn’t dictate that a system is retributive by nature. I can use a system with the death penalty as long as the system puts more emphasis on rehabilitation than retribution, which is apparently what the Chinese system sets out to do: which is also why Yama’s argument fails. He used a government that specifically states that their system “emphasizes reform and change for the better” , cited their reported recidivism rate, said it was retributive, and left it there.
So, the problem with Yama’s rebuttal round boils down to a few things. It does not take into account that China puts emphasis on rehabilitation, and it does not directly attack my argument. Rather, it “cites” the “more strict punishment” of the Chinese. This is problematic for Yama because I never saw anything in his argument or his cited sources that would dictate that China puts more emphasis on retribution than rehabilitation in regards to convicted criminals. From his sources, I read a lot that would dictate an emphasis of rehabilitation over retribution: and I put that in my argument.
26 Minutes to make a complete vote worthy conclusion? I'm game.
More emphasis should be placed on retribution over rehabilition. This is supported by two core facts I've proven below.
- Rehabilitation Programs for violent offenders such as Sex Offenders do not have segnifigant enough data to warrant mass use.
- America has a much larger recidivism rate than that of China. Therefore it can be assumed that if America used methods as strict as China's, America's rate of recidivsm would also fall.
I believe that more should be done to punish criminals outside of their current treatment but that the current system and more leniency (of which Rehabilitation is) is the complete wrong way to go about it. Insted, emphasis should be placed on retribution for victims and preserving Justice. And the job of the American government is to safe guard all citizens living under it's protection.
Nevertheless, this is not a space for new arguments.
A vote for pro is a vote for Justice!
1. The Vagueness of Yama’s Plan
Yama proposes two things: that more should be executed and that executions should be cheaper. This is critically flawed because he proposes no way to make the execution process cheaper. Thus, even if it would work, it would cost way too much money to execute to such an extent.
Also, Yama doesn’t propose anything about criminals he does not want to execute. Since he limited how many crimes he was talking about, out of the many that can be committed, he has not fulfilled his end of the burden of proof, because Yama's burden requires him to show that the majority or all of crimes committed must be dealt with through retribution, and the majority of crimes are not in his given example. His plan is not only vague, but only applies to a section of the prison population.
2. The China Argument
Here, Yama establishes that China has a low recidivism rate. He did not establish, however, the causation of it, and merely claimed that they were “more strict”. I established a causation of China’s low recidivism rate: rehabilitation. Because of Yama’s lack of evidence that directly links harsher punishment to lower recidivism rates in China, this point of his falls flat: and effectively helps my case, as I established a causation for the lower recidivism.
3. Yama’s Moral Argument
He does not explain why his argument for the death penalty is moral, and then in defense, he calls out two contradicting philosophers. His Gandhi quote ironically helps my side, as killing a murderer would be an “eye for an eye”. And, he said that they are both right: which I view as a concession of sorts: as what Gandhi was advocating for was not exacting revenge (retribution) for a crime. This quote of Gandhi does not help Yama’s case.
And then, he quotes Machiavelli’s The Prince: a quote that is about how a ruler should hope to be viewed by his people. He does not explain why this advocates directly for the death penalty, nor why the moral pushed by Machiavelli should be accepted.
4. Yama’s sourcing
Yama’s rebuttal for my RSVP argument was a Google search, which he said showed that there was no evidence that rehabilitative treatment for sexual offenders works: because he said there was no websites showing a lower recidivism rate between those in rehabilitative programs and those who are not. However, he cites a website that said that sexual offenders that did go into treatment had a 37% lower recidivism rate (which was also ironically the third result I got when I clicked on his Google search), which was in his second source in his round 3 argument.
Even if he did not see evidence - which was clearly in his own source, a Google search does not invalidate the argument. Besides, he actually found evidence for my side, as was also the case in the China argument.
5. Dropped Points
Yama did not address my cost argument in his rebuttals. This was a crucial criticism on his plan to increase the number of executions, and he did not speak of it.
Really, this debate boils down to a simple thing - I provided evidence of rehabilitive programs working and Yama did not. I provided causation between RSVP and China having lower recidivism, and he provided a Google search and a statement saying the reason China has a lower recidivism rate is that they give harsher punishment - without any evidence to back him up.
In closing, I thank Yama for the debate, and I remind him to waive the final round, as per the round 1 rules.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by YYW 1 year ago
|Who won the debate:||-|
Reasons for voting decision: The China example strengthened CON's point more than PRO, and more or less couldn't tilt the scale where PRO had to show that more emphasis should be put on retribution than rehabilitation. CON only had to show that retribution and reababilitation should be equally important goals, or that rehabilitation should be the priority. PRO didn't do that. The reason this debate turns on China is that it was more or less the central pillar of PRO's case, and CON prevented it from standing. Arguments to CON.
Vote Placed by bsh1 1 year ago
|Who won the debate:||-|
Reasons for voting decision: I think that both debaters could've benefited from focusing on more macro-level issues. As it was, it felt like most of the arguments rested on cherry-picked examples. Still, it was a good debate. Pro suffers because his plan is vague--he talks only about felonies, but what of other crimes? Moreover, Pro focuses a lot on execution, but retribution is not the same as the death penalty. Regardless, I buy that the death penalty is more expensive (Pro drops this) and I buy that the effectiveness of Con's plan was never really challenged. Additionally, Con effectively turned Pro's China argument to show that is was evidence for rehabilitation. Even systems that Pro lauds (e.g. China) are good because they have rehabilitation. Therefore, rehabilitation appears to solve for recidivism, and the death penalty is too expensive to implement. Finally, I buy that Pro didn't do enough to justify his moral argument. Pro just doesn't have much offense. So, it's very hard for me to not vote Con.
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