The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
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Juveniles should be tried as adults

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/11/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 39,732 times Debate No: 15312
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
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This debate is going to be in the LD format. I will start of by being the pro so here it goes.

This case argues that only in a society wherein all people know the rules and all rules apply to everyone can justice be applied fairly. To allow one person one punishment and another person an alternative punishment for the same crime is not fair and destroys the structure of a society. Only if a society is well ordered can justice as fairness be achieved. Juveniles who commit murder must be dealt with in the same way as adults who commit murder. One could argue that because juveniles know they can get away with crime because they are under a certain age, they are more willing to commit the crime. Further, someone needs to consider the victims of crime and their families. These are the people who help society – the ones who obey the law. They ought to have the first priority – not the criminal. Remember, we are not talking about little kids who steal a piece of candy from the store. We are talking about kids who are usually mid to late teens in age. They are old enough to know that it is against the law to commit violence on others. I am resolved that: In the United States, juveniles charged with violent felonies ought to be treated as adults in the criminal justice system.

My Value is Justice as Fairness. Justice as Fairness uses a fundamental organizing idea within which all ideas and principles can be systematically connected and related. This organizing idea is that of society as a fair system of social cooperation between free and equal persons viewed as fully cooperating members of society over a complete life. My Criterion is Well Ordered Society. One reason we form this idea is that an important question about a conception of justice for a democratic society is whether, and how well, it can serve as the publicly recognized and mutually acknowledged conception of justice when society is viewed as a system of cooperation between free and equal citizens from one generation to the next. A political conception of justice that could not fulfill this public role must be, it seems, in some way seriously defective. The suitability of a conception of justice for a well ordered society provides an important criterion for comparing political conceptions of justice. There can be no justice as long as some people are allowed to get away with rape, murder, or assault and others are not. There is no justice as long as victims of crime see their attackers or the attackers of their dead loved ones get away with committing crimes against them. Not until everyone knows from the cradle to the grave that if you commit a crime, you will go to jail. It will not be pretty and it will not be nice. Only when everyone knows the rules and only when the rules apply to everyone will we have a well ordered society which is the bright line for Justice as fairness.


The currently popular method of dealing with violent youth is to try them as adults. This tactic assumes that juveniles tried as adults will receive longer sentences in adult facilities, which, in turn, will act as a greater deterrent and will provide safety to the community. In a 1993 poll, 73% of people interviewed favored trying violent juveniles in adult criminal court rather than in what is perceived as "lenient juvenile courts."(15) In fact, numerous commentators have called for the complete abolition of the juvenile court system. Recent high-profile cases involving teens, such as the case of 17-year-old Washington, D.C., sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, have shifted the nation's perception of juvenile justice. "We have been sending more juveniles at younger ages into the adult system," says Gibson. "It used to be a lot like civil court; very informal. But now it's more adversarial. That has happened because the political winds of the day have changed from rehabilitating to 'just desserts--do the crime, do the time.'"


In 1993, 2-year-old Jamie Bulger living in Bootle, England was taken by two 10-year-old boys and was mutilated and murdered. The two boys then laid his body on a railroad track with the intention of causing substantial injury which would cover up what they had done to the child. The murderers were tried and convicted as minors and the boys have since been relocated and given new identities. Excuses should not be made for these offenders; lessening the consequences of their actions will not only undermine the victim and his or her family, but also make it seem excusable after a short period of remorse. If you read the literature from the psychiatrists and the juvenile advocates, you will read that these "children" are not responsible and do not know what they are doing. They tell us we must allow these criminals – these violent felons – to be given understanding and a second chance. But who gave a second chance to their victims? Did these poor misunderstood criminals take pity on the people they shot, or stabbed, or raped? No! And it time that people who do such things know that they will not be allowed to get away with such violations of other members of society. This brings me to my third contention.


To those who advocate a second chance for youths, I have something for you to think about. Put yourself in Bulger's mother's shoes. Would you feel your son's brutal murder was vindicated if the two boys who killed your son, purely for fun, were taken to juvenile detention, received rehabilitative aid and released with new identities to live the rest of their lives with nothing but a faint memory of what they had done? I think not. All crimes committed by juveniles should and must be treated in the same regard, if not to punish heinous acts, then to provide justice to the families of victims.

Finally, it is time to hear from the victims of crime. Too long have they been silenced. The dead were clerk Osman Jama Elmi, 28; his cousin, Mohamed Abdi Warfa, 30; and customer Anwar Salah Mohammed, 31. Earlier this year, Ahmed Ali, 17, reached a plea bargain with prosecutors. In return for his guilty plea and promise to testify against Mahdi Ali (they are not related), the murder charges against him will be dropped and he'll be sentenced in February for attempted armed robbery. Faysal Warfa, the owner of the market and a cousin to one of the victims, was succinct in his reaction to the judge's ruling. "That's good news," he said. "We're waiting for this guy to get justice."
"When a kid who commits a serious, heinous crime turns 18, he has no record. One reason he can get over is that no one knows for certain, outside his block, that he is a criminal. But do you know who needs to know that record more than anyone else? The Black community needs to know because they need to protect themselves against him. I don't want his face hidden on television because he's too young. I want his face seen so that other kids can know to stay away from him. I want him to stay in jail under a regular [adult] prosecution, because I don't want him out on the street next month or next year to commit another crime. Let's not continue to make it seem that crime pays. We have to redesign the youthful-offender codes. They have not worked, and it is the number-one cause of the increase of violent crime among young people."
Not until violent juveniles are treated as violent adults are treated in the criminal justice system can we reach the well ordered society. We must reach the Well Ordered Society in order to have Justice as fairness. The United States prides itself on its justice and its high ideals of equality. It is time that those words become more than words. I ask for the Affirmative vote in this debate.


i will start with my case then attack my opponets

the following definitions are from blacks law dictionary
Felony: an offense, as murder or burglary, of graver character than those called misdemeanors, esp. those commonly punished in the U.S. by imprisonment for more than a year.

My value for the round is Moral Obligation. Is moral or not to not take different circumstances into account while giving a sentence as strong as twenty years to a ten year old? There are different circumstances to every crime, and the Affirmative position is too narrow-minded to see that.

The Criterion is Protection of Human Worth. you can not protect human worth if you throw a ten year old in jail without parole for a mental problem? Take Eric Smith, for example. At the age of 13, he strangled a 4 year old, slammed two large rocks on his head, and then proceeded to shove a stick up his rectum. any sane human would never do such a terrible thing nine years to life in prison will not help his sanity more than a psychologist? Upon leaving prision as the insane person he is he would likely commit another crime.

Therefore, the Affirmative has the burden to prove that treating juveniles charged with violent felonies treated as adults in the criminal justice system Protects Human Worth.

The Negative has the burden to prove that if you do not treat juveniles charged with violent felonies as adults in the criminal justice system, you Protect Human Worth.

Contention 1: Juveniles brains aren't as developed as Adults.

According to Terence T. Gorski is an internationally recognized expert on substance abuse, mental health, violence, & crime and others qualified professionals, (Ed. Judy Layzell. Ortiz, Adam.)

Scientific studies have determined that the human brain undergoes continuous development up to the age of about twenty-one. "Because the brains of juveniles, particularly the frontal lobes, are not fully developed, youths lack the ability to perform critical adult functions, such as plan, anticipate consequences, and control impulses," states Adam Ortiz, a policy fellow with the American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Center. Although juveniles should be punished for their crimes, they are not as responsible as adults. "This is the premise beneath society's across-the-board restrictions on voting rights, alcohol and tobacco consumption, and serving in the armed forces," observes Ortiz. "Indeed, this is why we refer to those under 18 as `minors' and `juveniles'—because, in so many respects, they are less than adult."

By this reasoning, the mere act of punishing a juvenile as an adult is immoral, and therefore does not Protect Human Worth.

Contention 2: Punishment doesn't work, it just makes things worse.

Gorski presents three principles which should guide the debate regarding adult sentencing of juveniles. First, adolescents are not fully developed mentally and are prone to poor impulse control; second, even the most violent juvenile offender can be rehabilitated with proper treatment; last, the United States has a juvenile justice system that is designed to help youthful offenders, not punish them. "It is important to remember that punishment does not work," asserts Gorski. "Punishment is a failed strategy for changing behavior, teaching new skills, or developing new and more positive attitudes and beliefs."

Contention 3: Youths are easily influenced

It's a well known fact that a most juvenile delinquents had a bad upbringing. During the adolescence period, the brain is still forming and learning right from wrong. If in a negative environment, what we in society has come to know as bad, can be known as 'good' for the child. An example would be a case where a Mother began stealing things with her children, hiding things in their pockets and purses. The children were thereby taught that stealing is OK, maybe even if they must use force. The children should not be held responsible, the bad influences should be, be it a parent or a sibling or maybe an older friend who's experienced in the life of crime. Therefore, we should always take different circumstances into account, something the Affirmative cannot do.

Sub Point A: Youths should not have access to violent weapons.

Guns are usually related to violent crimes juveniles commit. Obviously, you must be 21 to buy and legally own a gun. Who's to blame for letting an underage have possession of such dangerous weapons? Certainly not the juvenile. Maybe the parent didn't fully teach the juvenile right from wrong, and/or carelessly left the gun around. Maybe the juveniles see on T.V. the power the gun has, and can get whatever they want if they have possession of it.

Contention 4: You cannot protect Human Worth with the Affirmative position.

Professor Palo Annino (Florida State University) expands: Oh, absolutely, I think we're immoral, ultimately as a nation. This is no different from slavery and other major moral issues. Placing children in adult prisons for life is a death sentence for children. Do we want to do that as a society? Do we want to ignore our Western traditions? I mean, we do have Western traditions, and one part of our Western traditions is called redemption, and for many people in our culture redemption is an important value.

Instead of throwing a ten year old in jail for a mental problem or simply a mistake, how about we try for redemption and get the children rehabilitation.

and now i will attack my opponets case.

my opponets value is justice as fairness. it is not just or fair to try a non developed child as an adult. and for his criterion of a well ordered societry, a society is in better order when children put on death row with men. the purpose of my case is not to " let people get away with rape, murder, or assualt, but that they shouldnt be punished as severley as adults.

my opponets first contention is that most of the public wants violent juveniles tried as adults, but we cant this contention seriously. what the public wants isnt always the best. in 1855 most of the public thought it was ok to keep africans in chains, but this didnt make it right. what the public wants isnt always right, and therefore we cannot take this contention seriously.

my opponets second contention is also not valid. this contention says that juveniles shouldnt get away with murder, and i agree with that, but it is in human nature to make mistakes. a 10 year old's mind isnt fully developed yet, and the concpets of right and wrong arent fully developed. we can not punish these children the same way as an adult. they should not get away with murder, but instead of being put on death row these children should go to a mental hospital or some other form of rehabilitation, rather than death row.

and his third contention and fourth contention tie togeather in the fact that they are both asking for the victim's prosecuter to be punished, and they should. but the punishment shouldnt be as serverley as that of an adult. i agree that these kids cant get away with their crimes, but they cant be punished the same as a 40 year old raping a small child. my opponets third and fourth contention can not stand.

in conclusion i for the most part agree with my opponet that these child criminals cant get away with their crimes, but my opponet has failed to prove that these children with undeveloped minds should be tried the same as someone with a fully developed mind that is completely consious of what their doing. thank you and vote negative
Debate Round No. 1


eib10202 forfeited this round.


reiterate my attacks, extend my arguments, vote negative, please and thank you.
Debate Round No. 2


eib10202 forfeited this round.


joshjenkns forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by phantom 7 years ago
Vote negative?
What the heck
Posted by eib10202 7 years ago
you can not say that a kid is not mentally stable enough because if a kid understands the difference between right and wrong then your arguement is invalid. I am not just talking about no random little kid either but i am talking about a kid who in his or her later teens.
Posted by IamZero 7 years ago
I'm going for pro.
Posted by Tsawak 7 years ago
The brain of a teenager is not as fully developed as an adult, so they don't deserve to be punished like one.
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