Mercy vs. Strict Justice
I've been wanting to have a good debate on this subject for some time. I think this is a unique and interesting topic, and I anticipate with pleasure the discussion that will ensue. You must have 2,500 ELO to vote on this debate.
Mercy bears richer fruit than strict Justice.
The full topic is based on a quote from Abraham Lincoln. But, because it is a abstract, it requires some explanation. Simply put, this topic is asking the question of whether justice should be restorative, rehabilitative, etc., or whether it should be punitive, retributive, etc. Debaters should therefore focus on the difference between "soft" justice and "strict" justice, and which ends up producing the "richest fruit," or the most justice. Moreover, it is asking a question about broad principles, and not just about mercy vs. strict justice in the criminal justice system, in governance, etc.
Mercy - kindness, clemency, or forgiveness of someone who could be treated harshly
Bear richer fruit - to produce more benefits or better outcomes
Strict Justice - an approach to justice that emphasizes the need and appropriateness of punishment in response to wrongdoing
1. No forfeits
2. Full citations should be provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final round
4. Maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling
6. No "kritiks" of the topic
7. My opponent accepts all definitions and waives his/her right to add resolutional definitions
8. For all undefined terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the logical context of the resolution and this debate
9. The BOP is Shared: Pro argues for Mercy, Con for Strict Justice
10. Violation of any of these rules or of any of the R1 set-up merits a loss
R1. Acceptance Only
R2. Pro's Case, Con's Case
R3. Pro rebuts Con's Case, Con rebuts Pro's Case
R4. Pro defends Pro's Case, Con defends Con's Case
R5. Pro rebuts Con's Case, Con rebuts Pro's Case, both Crystallize
...to famous; I am looking forward to an excellent debate in an intriguing format!
I am honored to be debating such a high level debater. I wish my opponent the best of luck. I accept this debate.
In this debate, I hope to present a convincing case in support of mercy over strict justice. While this issue is multifaceted, my basic logic will follow a simple route, succinctly summarized by Robert Frost when he wrote that "nothing can make injustice just but mercy."
This debate compels us, the debaters, to present and defend two oft-conflicting notions of justice, and to ask ourselves which is better. It makes sense that whichever approach to justice produces the most justice overall is the one that bears the richest fruit. Therefore, I will endeavor to show that mercy is the best way to correct injustice.
It is not my role, however, to argue that mercy is always the better option, just that it "bears richer fruit," which implies an "on balance" consideration of the topic. After all, one tree could have 10 fruits, and another 100. Both have fruit, but the latter is clearly richer and more plentiful. Now that I have clarified the topic, I will construct my case.
Argument 1: Mercy Releases the Self
Mercy, per the definitions provided, entails forgiveness, which is in turn key for self-release. Suppose for a moment that I am the victim of a mugging and as a result of this mugging I harbor fear and anger towards the person who attacked me. Holding onto those negative feelings means that I become a victim of those feelings. It is as if the mugging is un-ending and that the attacker’s ability to make me feel angry or scared has not diminished. I am not due those negative feelings which were inflicted on me by the mugger, but failure to forgive means that those emotional wounds will stay with me. This gives the mugger enormous influence in my life, and perpetuates an injustice, namely the ongoing psychological trauma I experience.
Forgiveness allows me to release this pain and to free myself of the mugger: “[l]etting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for happiness, health and peace. Forgiveness can lead to: Healthier relationships, Greater spiritual and psychological well-being, Less anxiety, stress and hostility, Lower blood pressure, Fewer symptoms of depression, Stronger immune system, Improved heart health, [and] Higher self-esteem." 
Argument 2: Mercy Reduces Crime
A strict interpretation of justice, that is to say, a more punitive model of justice, would require that wrongdoers be punished for their wrongdoing, regardless of whether it is their first transgression or not. Moreover, those punishments would naturally be more severe under this view than under a mercy-driven approach.
Throwing nonviolent or first-time offenders in prison with hardened criminals may teach them how to become criminals, and punishing them harshly may produce problems later in life, such as hardship finding jobs, leading them back to crime. This reasoning is borne out by empirics. People incarcerated for less time were 3% less likely to reoffend then longer-serving counterparts. Similarly, people who were not incarcerated at all were 7% less likely to reoffend.  Pew Research Center reached a similar conclusion, writing: "nonviolent inmates...could have served three months to as much as two years less without any decline in public safety...for many offenders, longer prison terms boost taxpayer costs but add little to no overall reduction in crime." 
Even within prison systems, mercy through rehabilitation is more effective than retribution. A meta-analysis study "found that in rehabilitation programs that conformed to the principles of effective intervention, recidivism was about 25 percentage points lower."  These principles are very commonsense-type things: have a trained staff, target at-risk offenders, follow up on released inmates, etc. Thus, a merciful approach to the criminal justice system better reduces crime and crime-induced injustices.
Argument 3: Mercy Prevents Injustices to the Offender
Suppose I commit a crime and serve my time. It seems clear to me that I have paid my debt to society and that it should not continue to punish on me for a debt already paid. Keeping this in mind, when former criminals cannot find jobs because of their record, it seems that society is still penalizing them for their wrongdoing. It is employing a punitive model of justice that legitimizes their denying a job to this person. This is like demanding payment from someone who already paid—it is neither fair nor merciful nor just to the offender.
Argument 4: Mercy is more Understanding of Mitigating Circumstances
The picture Con will paint of justice is rather black and white, i.e. people who do something wrong should be punished. Mercy presents a much richer, nuanced, view of justice. It realizes that there are extenuating circumstances, and other factors (such as a person’s character), which should go into an assessment of whether or not to punish and how harshly to punish. In this way, mercy is better able to avoid injustice involving overly harsh penalties and punishing people for silly things. For instance, due to a 3-strikes law, one individual was sentenced to life in prison for failing to repay a $120 AC bill;  a mercy-based system would reject this for what it obviously is: ridiculous.
Argument 5: Mercy Heals Communities and Rifts
Consider that, on an individual level, forgiveness is necessary to unburden oneself (as noted earlier). This holds true on a societal level as well. Mercy both allows groups to relieve themselves of negative feelings, but it also reduces risks of escalating violence, and offers a chance for healing.
Suppose for one moment that a city was torn apart by racial divides, as with Ferguson or Baltimore. In this city, a protest is being held without a permit. Police have two options: to strictly enforce the law, or to be merciful/lenient and allow the protest to continue. The former option will likely spark further unrest, resentment, and anger. The latter, while it may not end the disruptions, will not increase tensions further. This example illustrates the role of mercy in controlling and preventing violence; that when people get trapped in cycles of revenge and retaliation, it becomes incredibly hard to break free of those ever-escalating cycles. It's like the Hatfield's and McCoy's. Mercy is thus an appropriate tool here in injustice-prevention.
Another example we can offer is a real one. South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission after apartheid was a large success, and helped produce the stable nation we see today. It was based on a restorative justice model, whereby "[w]itnesses who were identified as victims of gross human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences...Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution."  This allowed a public airing of grievances which allowed wounds to be frankly addressed and confronted as part of a healing process, but it also crucially prevented cycles of black-white retaliation that could've consumed the country, as they did in Zimbabwe.
In conclusion, Mercy reduces injustices caused by holding on to negative emotions, crime, unfairly treating offenders, cruel penalties. Thus, the richer fruit grows on the tree of mercy, and, as I am sure Frost would agree, mercy is by far the best way to turn an injustice just. Thank you!
1 - http://www.mayoclinic.org...
2 - http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca...
3 - http://www.pewtrusts.org...
4 - http://law.jrank.org...
5 - http://www.huffingtonpost.com...
6 - https://en.wikipedia.org...(South_Africa)
People deserve justice. I will provide many reasons as to why criminals deserve justice rather than mercy.
I will start by addressing the issue of crime The Justice system gives parameters as to how people will be judged. Mercy is arbitrary. Meaning that people will disagree to what extent you should be merciful to. This disagreement will cause more chaos than mercy will already be causing, which I will explain in more detail within my arguments.
Justice is also the most effective for regular citizens. It prevents future crimes due to citizens fear of punishment. As a result it stops most people from committing future crimes. Recent polls show that 1 in 3 men would rape if they could get away with it. This is a shocking statistic that show why the impacts of strict justice would be greater than the impacts of mercy.
We should care about justice as a principle. Justice is essential so that we have some sort of order within society in order to prevent it from falling. Justice prevents us from viewing life subjectively. I am not against viewing certain things subjectively, for example, complimenting your family members. You will obviously be kinder towards them than you will be towards others since they are you family. It is perfectly normal to view your family subjectively. When it comes to governing the country and judging criminals in court, it is absurd to judge them based your views. People will argue over who is right and to what extent somebody deserves mercy when somebody else doesn’t.
This links on to a similar issue regarding why we should value justice and why we should care that people are sentenced according to the extent of their crime not based on mercy and subjective views. We should value justice because it keeps our society in order. Criminals do not roam freely around the streets. They are either or jail or are in hiding because they are avoiding punishment. If we are merciful then criminals will freely walk around our streets without any form of punishment. Is this the society that we should be living in?
Now I will explain why we should care that criminals are sentenced. If we have no opinion over whether or not criminals are sentenced then you are saying that you wouldn’t mind if a well known criminal moved next door and could do whatever he wants without having to worry about justice. Of course we should care, and for our safety we should be for the justice system.
The Logic Of Justice
Justice for those who commit acts of wrongdoing is essential, because it generates an air of fear. Logic tells us that criminals that fear the consequences of their actions. There are 5 main purposes of punishment for crime:
1. Incapacitation: A felon in prison cannot commit crimes while imprisoned. An executed felon cannot commit a crime again.
2. Deterrence: The threat of punishment deters people from engaging in illegal acts.
3. Restitution: The felon is required to take some action to at least partially return the victim to the status quo ante.
4. Retribution: The felon harmed society; therefore society (or the victims) is entitled to inflict harm in return.
5. Rehabilitation: The punishment changes the felon in order to make him a better citizen afterwards. (mandatory vocational training, counseling, drug treatment, etc.)
These are the reasons we need punishment, i.e. strict justice. Mercy may seem like the more morally compelling option in this situation however how can we ever be moral when we allow others to break our universal morality that gives us the gift of differentiating right and wrong; good and evil? I do not disagree that there are exceptions to this argument, the majority of people are proven to obey are universal morality for various reasons - a major reason being fear of strict justice, which is ultimately good. Now we will look in more depth about the consequences of being merciful in these situations:
1. The criminal has been let free due to the mercy of the court, he or she is then able to commit the same crime and expect the same result. Freedom. There is no lesson being learnt in this scenario and mercy is an indication to the criminal that they are free to do whatever they want to do, exceeding all boundaries such as the law and universal morality.
2. Research strongly suggests that the threat of punishment is the biggest reason as to why people do not commit crimes. It is evident that a poor man would steal if he was given the opportunity to do so.
4. Knowing that the victims are powerless and cannot act with strict justice this rids any possibility of there being disadvantages to breaking the law.
5. In this scenario strict justice refers to making sure that the felon receives the correct treatment necessary for their full recovery. Even if they are sentenced, they will commit the crime again without help.
The Necessity Of Justice
The question remains unanswered as to, why do we need strict justice? Without strict justice society crumbles. As mentioned in my previous contention, without punishment enforced, criminals will roam freely and the government will fall. Taxes can be avoided without payment. Murders can be committed without justice. Theft can happen with no consequences. This is what will happen if society is merciful. If society enforces strict justice then prisoners will receive the death sentence or be punished with prison, tax and / or various other forms of punishment. A society that acts out of strict justice is a safe society and a society that can operate without chaos.
Without strict justice governing our lives there is nothing to stop us from doing whatever we like. Mercy may seem like the better option because of love, kindness and forgiveness however we need to understand that when approaching serious issues such as crime we must look upon it from an objective viewpoint. Strict Justice is clearly objective since personal opinion is put aside and issues are looked at from a serious point of view rather than a person one. Mercy is clearly subjective since you are empathising with the criminal rather than looking at it from a professional point of view. Subjectivism is rarely a good way to look at the issues of crime, even for minor offenses because if you let somebody off a minor offense then they know that they have power over you and that you can no longer stop them. Even being merciful in towards somebody that has committed the smallest offenses can lead to blackmail, bribery and threats. For example,
Somebody steals a sweet from a shop. You know that they’ve stolen it but because it is a minor offense you decide not to tell anyone. You then see them stealing a phone. You threaten to tell somebody about it but then they blackmail you by saying that if you tell the police that they have stolen a phone, they will tell the police that you knew that they stole something but failed to tell them. Therefore, you will be punished to for not telling the police. Then you are in a dilemma. If you tell, then you will be punished. If you don’t tell, then you risk being punished even more severely since this is a phone whereas before it was only a sweet. If you choose to tell, then you will get into trouble and you risk a retaliation from the thief. If you do not tell, you will live with guilt and could end up in jail for a very long period of time for withholding evidence and information from the police.
Now lets see what would happen if you had taken the just option:
Someone steals a sweet from a shop. You know that they’ve stolen it so you tell the police. You tell them about it and receive no punishment and have no guilt upon you.
I am sure that to my opponent; it is evident that the merciful option was not as good as the just one.
Thanks, famous! I will now rebut Con's case.
I think it is important to take a moment to clarify and re-frame the debate. Con spends much of his time defending the ideal of "justice," but this implies that my world is somehow justice-less; rather, Con is called on to defend a particular kind of justice, namely, "strict" justice. In fact, this topic does not treat mercy and justice as separate concepts, rather it views mercy as a kind of justice. This was noted in the topic overview given in round one. So, what this debate is really asking is which TYPE of justice is better: merciful/soft justice or harsh/strict justice.
Furthermore, this is not a debate about the justice system. Con focuses almost exclusively on criminals and the criminal justice system; however, the resolution can be applied to any issue of justice anywhere in the world, whether it is criminal or not. This is key because Con is ceding a lot of ground by only defending a small sliver of his side of the topic, so I am probably already outweighing him (presume Pro).
Con's case was a bit hard for me to follow, so I will be reorganizing his case into a few succinct chunks. I may quote him directly, in which case I'll italicize his remarks.
Justice as a Principle
"Justice prevents us from viewing life subjectively. I am not against viewing certain things subjectively, for example, complimenting your family members...When it comes to governing the country and judging criminals in court, it is absurd to judge them based your views."
1. Why is it permissible to treat some people in an arbitrarily preferential fashion, but not others? This just seems utterly contradictory. Unless Con can provide a morally compelling reason why it is permissible to treat family members preferentially just because I want to, but not to do the same with criminals, then Con's argument as no basis to stand on, because he will admit by default that subjectivity in treatment is permissible.
2. Con fails to actually articulate any reason why this subjectivity is undesirable? Surely, the circumstances must matter. If I passed a law that said "all homicide is illegal," and I applied this law with no regard for mitigating circumstances, every soldier, every person killing in self-defense, every person who accidentally kills through no fault of their own, would go to jail. Clearly, this kind of blind application of rules produces unreasonable results. Mitigating circumstances must be factored in, lest we incur the risk of failing to see the forest through the trees.
Justice in Application
"Justice is also the most effective for regular citizens. It prevents future crimes due to citizens fear of punishment. As a result it stops most people from committing future crimes.
1. Harsh Sentences Don't Actually Deter Crime
a. "The New York State prison population has gone from 12,500 in the early 1970's to more than 40,000 today. Yet our crime rate is not significantly lower now than it was in 1970. This is true in spite of increased sentences and a decrease in the percentage of the population in the 'crime prone' 16- to 30-year-old age group, which some demographers predicted would reduce crime rates all by itself." 
2. Harsher Sentences are Likely to Boost Crime
a. Longer prison sentences expose people to hardened criminals and to a culture of violence and fear. This culture teaches them how to be criminals, and may actually increase their likelihood of recidivating.
3. His system leads to lots of people filling up prisons and languishing their for years, as we see now currently in the U.S. This wastes massive amounts of taxpayer dollars, and it seems unjust to take my tax money and spend in on programs that are not effective. Surely, the government has an obligation to spend my money efficiently, because the social contract I have with the government presumes that there is some constructive purpose to my submitting to coercive requirements of this nature.
"Rehabilitation: The punishment changes the felon in order to make him a better citizen afterwards. (mandatory vocational training, counseling, drug treatment, etc.)"
Rehabilitation is Pro ground. Mercy is necessarily a relative term, and it is, per the topic analysis in round one, being juxtaposed against "retributive" justice. Rehabilitative prison programs are necessarily more clement, forgiving, and kind that non-rehabilitative programs, making them "merciful." Moreover, the topic overview explicitly describes rehabilitation as part of a merciful system of justice. This has two impacts: (a) any arguments Con tries to make in favor of rehabilitation cannot count in his favor, because they are not his ground, (b) TURN: if rehabilitation is good, vote Pro to see more rehabilitation.
"The felon harmed society; therefore society (or the victims) is entitled to inflict harm in return."
Why is this necessarily the right way to go about doing something. Let's return to the Hatfield and McCoy example I provided in my speech. A Hatfield killed a McCoy, does this mean a McCoy can then kill or beat up a Hatfield? Obviously not. Even if we can agree that some retribution is appropriate, I think a system that primarily encourages retribution necessarily also encourages recrimination and ever-escalating cycles of violence.
"Recent polls show that 1 in 3 men would rape if they could get away with it."
This is just factually inaccurate. Con's own source (see his first link) notes that the "poll" in question surveyed just 86 men as part of a college course, and they got extra credit for participating. This is totally unscientific, and the results are utterly bogus.
What is Mercy?
"We should value justice because it keeps our society in order. Criminals do not roam freely around the streets." And "Without strict justice governing our lives there is nothing to stop us from doing whatever we like."
Mercy is not the position that criminals should walk freely on the streets. It is the position that people should be treated less harshly than they otherwise would. Mercy is not necessarily the same as a free pass, nor, as per my case's analysis, does a merciful world preclude any use of strict justice. Mercy is necessarily relative: it is gentler than "strict" justice, but that doesn't mean that it forgoes all punishments. This has two impacts: (a) I do not object to incarceration or penalties on principle, (b) I am imposing a kinder version of justice, but justice nonetheless. Obviously, there are upper limits on what can be tolerated.
As Con's sources aren't enumerated, I can't always tell which sources go with which claims, which makes it hard to determine which arguments these sources are supposed to be warrants for. Any data in his sources not directly entered into the text should be ignored, as it circumvents character limits.
1 - http://www.nytimes.com...
2 - http://www.businessinsider.com...
Before I begin with the rebuttals, I would just like to note a few things. Whilst, I agree that the fact that I mainly focused on crime may give my opponent the advantage at this stage of the debate, I hope that voters will not vote against me for this reason alone.
R1 - Mercy Releases The Self
I understand that mercy releases the self and the focus of this rebuttal isn’t to disprove this. The focus of this particular rebuttal is to show the consequences of using mercy in this situation and why this scenario requires strict justice over mercy. It is always good to have a boost on happiness and self esteem however the main point that my opponent is missing here is that we are talking about a mugger. A mugger is defined as a person that attacks and robs another in a public place. This is a serious offense and must be punished. Statistics show that a first time mugger has a 60% increased chance of mugging again once they have mugged once. By allowing this mugger to go freely - yes, you will feel good about yourself but does that outweigh the fact that somebody else will become a victim to attack and theft because you wanted to feel good about yourself? I ask voters to consider whether or not they would prefer to feel good about themselves or suffer theft and attack in public from a mugger. If you would prefer to be happy (for a short period of time) vote for my opponent. If you would prefer to get the mugger arrested and stop somebody else from being mugged (possibly somebody that you know) then vote for me.
R2 - Mercy Reduces Crime
Let’s think about the problem with these statistics. Since, at the moment we are under a justice system and generally don’t view crime/criminals subjectively. Therefore, those that are not sentenced at all are most likely people who committed minor crimes. These people have been to court and haven’t been charged. This means that they have narrowly escaped punishment. Now that they haven’t been charged they know that they must be careful in the future to avoid a sentence. If we undergo a merciful system then criminals will be let off but won’t experience that element of fear since there will not be a system of strict justice. The most likely reason that those who are let off do not commit crime is because they fear strict justice. Without strict justice this element of fear will be rendered non-existent.
Again, the same applies for the statistics regarding a shorter sentence in jail. If the criminal is sentenced for a shorter amount of time than expected for the particular crime that they committed, then they know that they narrowly escaped being sentenced for a longer period of time. This makes them fear strict justice more because they have felt its effect personally. They now know what life in prison is like and this makes them fearful of breaking the law because they know that they could have potentially been in jail for a longer period of time than they were sentenced to.
R3 - Mercy Prevents Injustices to the Offender
It is acceptable to not allow a criminal to be part of certain jobs. The purpose of a criminal record isn’t intended to be a punishment for the criminal. It is intended to make sure that society is safe and that people are protected and are not at risk of crime being committed at work. A criminal record is an indication of your criminal history that can be viewed by companies when you apply for a job. They are not irrelevant and are necessary in order to protect society. Would a mass murderer make a suitable school teacher regardless of whether or not they have the correct qualifications? The answer is no, and if you disagree then I’d be more than happy to discuss this in a separate debate because I do not know how you could think otherwise. Criminal records do make it hard for criminals to get a job but this is a consequence that criminals are usually aware of once they commit a crime.
R4 - Mercy is more Understanding of Mitigating Circumstances
My opponent has used an example regarding one individual out of 7 billion. I think that this alone significantly weakens this point but I will expand regardless of what I think. I never said that the justice system is completely fair however what I find strange is that my opponent believes that a system of mercy would be better than a system of justice. A system of mercy is arbitrary (as stated in the previous round). The problem with viewing criminal offenses subjectively (in this instance, mercifully) is that people have different views on different crimes depending on what they believe. Let’s use this example: an attractive killer is on trial. The jury and judge are attracted to this criminal and decide to be merciful and allow this killer to be free. If we act with strict justice then this scenario would be unacceptable. The jury and judge would be forced to act objectively and put personal feelings aside and deal with the actual issue.
R5 - Mercy Heals Communities and Rifts
Strict justice does not necessarily imply violence. In this situation, the best option is to warn the protesters of the consequences and give them the option to peacefully walk away. If the protesters refuse to walk away and are unwilling then the police have three options. They can either retrieve video footage of the protesters; follow the protesters and arrest them individually or act out of violence.
If the protesters are in an area with CCTV then the protest will be filmed and recorded. This allows the protesters to be arrested individually after the protests. If there are no cameras, then the non-violent option would be to follow them and arrest them individually after the protests. If the protesters are being violent or are breaking the law in terms of theft, shoplifting or vandalism then the police have the right to intervene. “The duties of a police officer, also known as a law enforcement officer, focus on protecting people and property.” In this scenario, people are at risk and property (including shops) are at risk of people damaged and vandalized. A police officer must follow his or her duty to protect citizens and property and therefore they have the right to intervene violently in order to fulfill this responsibility. Unless my opponent is suggesting that we allow the protests to occur violently then the only solution is violence.
Thanks, famous! At this time, I will defend my case.
Con opens up with a comment about my presumption argument. Since I made this as a rebuttal to Con's case, Con should've waited to address it until round four. However, since he did rebut it here, I will just say Con gives no reason why voters ought not presume Pro, merely asking voters not to do this is not an argument. I provided a solid analysis of why the presumption should exist, and so my argument should be preferred as it actually has a warrant.
As for the rest of my framework, it is dropped. Extend: justice is the fruit we're trying to maximize and the topic should be viewed as an "on balance" one. The fact that the topic is "on balance" means that my world is not totally without "strict justice," merely it means that my world tends to value mercy more.
Con writes: "I understand that mercy releases the self and the focus of this rebuttal isn’t to disprove this." Extend that mercy is the only way for the victim to relieve themselves of the negative emotions that criminals inflict upon this. Since these negative emotions are not our due, mercy corrects an injustice here, which is a net positive when weighing which world is more just and fruitful.
Next, Con asserts: "A mugger is defined as a person that attacks and robs another in a public place. This is a serious offense and must be punished...By allowing this mugger to go freely - yes, you will feel good about yourself but does that outweigh the fact that somebody else will become a victim to attack and theft because you wanted to feel good about yourself?" I, of course, have several replies to this analysis:
1. The mugger was a hypothetical example used to illustrate a principle. We could be talking about any number of offense, most of which are less serious than a mugging. If your insulted by a friend or colleague, for instance, forgiveness still releases you of negative emotions, so the plus remains. ON BALANCE, this "mercy-good, forgiveness-good" approach is going to be appropriate, because common sense tells us that there are far more menial, less serious transgressions than serious ones. So, even if you buy Con's attack, we can apply strict justice in serious cases, while still affirming that, on balance, mercy is superior.
2. Perm and do both. The state can still incarcerate a mugger even if the victim forgives them. Mercy from the victim does not preclude punishment by the state, so we can still do both in my world. So, even if you buy that the same actor cannot both punish and be merciful, as Con seems to suggest, this idea would not get in the way of my arguments here.
3. Con continues to operate on the incorrect notion that mercy and punishment somehow are mutually exclusive things. It is possible for a single actor to be merciful and still to punish at the same time. Mercy is a necessarily relative term; if a parent tells their child, "you will not go to the event tonight if you steal a cookie," and the child steals the cookie, it would be merciful to allow the child to go to the event but punish them instead with a 15 minute timeout. Punishment was still involved, but it was merciful, not strict. Thus, punishment and incarceration can still happen while showing mercy. So, there is even less reason to believe that the criminal will go free just because the victim forgave them.
Con basically agrees with me: that first time offenders being let off are going to be treated. This is NOT Con's ground. In the passage I am about to quote, which was DROPPED by Con, I explain why his system would not allow this kind of policy: "A strict interpretation of justice, that is to say, a more punitive model of justice, would require that wrongdoers be punished for their wrongdoing, regardless of whether it is their first transgression or not. Moreover, those punishments would naturally be more severe under this view than under a mercy-driven approach." The reason this is true is because it is STRICT. It won't let people off with a warning or a threat. So, insofar as Con agrees that letting people off with a warning not to reoffend is effective, Con makes arguments in support of the Pro position. This is true of Con's responses about shortened sentences as well--shorter sentences are merciful, and are thus Pro ground, supporting my case. Turn Con's arguments against him. Con also just totally DROPS my rehabilitation evidence.
Con does claim that in a merciful system, people who are let off will reoffend because there is no credible fear of being punished should they recidivate. This is just false. I honestly think Con just does not understand the topic, or what this debate is about. This is not a debate about whether we should have a criminal justice system or not, it is a debate about whether our idea of justice should place more of an emphasis on mercy or on strictness. You can still incarcerate, you can still punish, you can still reprimand, etc. under a mercy-driven approach. The difference is that the state is more lenient, kind, and forgiving under a merciful approach, but it absolutely does not mean that the state will fail to lock up dangerous offenders or ignore the fact that some people do need to be penalized for their action.
C3. Injustices to the Offender
Con talks briefly about mass murders and serious offenders in general; I doubt that these people would be released from prison in the first place, so they're hardly germane to this point. And sure, for many offenders, having criminal records posted is a public safety issue, and in those cases, it is fine to have the record available. But for nonviolent offenders (who made up, for instance, 47.6% of sentenced state-level prisoners, a huge chunk ), criminal records are often unfair burdens to getting a job. Sure, you smoked pot...why should that conviction prevent you from ever having a decent job again? Public safety isn't at risk in suppressing your record in that case, and so there seems to be absolutely no reason to extract "payment" from the offender after they've served their time by making this record available. Even some violent offenders who have gone through rehabilitation and successfully reintegrated with the community might be worth considering for record suppression.
C4. Mitigating Circumstances
Con says I use only one example. The thing is, that this one example demonstrates a universal problem: when you strictly apply rules without regard to mitigating circumstances, you are going to commit injustices. Con never disagrees that the fate of the AC repairman was unjust, and common sense tells us that if we apply rules blindly as we did in his case, many other cases like his will arise because we failed to consider the other factors in play.
Con's example of the attractive killer is also a bit absurd, since reasonable people convict attractive criminals all the time. But, also, the jury could still acquit the killer in a strict system, so this is non-unique. And mercy may be subjective in the sense it wants mitigating factors considered, but it also demands that these factors be objectively assessed, so, again, Con's objection fails. As for the subjectivity issue, I will address this more in responding to Con's case.
Arresting the protesters after the fact is just as likely to incite further unrest and violence. It almost feels like the Night of the Long Knives, with the police purging the populace of dissenters. Again, mercy, in the form of community dialogue and the police not taking harsh retaliatory action, is best. Obviously, vandals and looters need to be stopped, but most protesters don't do those things, and should not be the victims of retaliation. The South Africa example is totally DROPPED. Extend it. It shows the effectiveness of mercy in healing community divides.
== Overview ==
The Justice system is an example of strict justice since it punishes criminals for offenses that they commit. Therefore, the justice system can be used as an example and argument for my case. Whilst, my opponent may believe that quantity supercedes quality however this is not a correct assumption. Despite the fact that, I am not covering many other issues not regarding punishment and criminals this is not a reason to vote against me. Criminal offense is a major point that actually covers the strongest point for my case.
R1 - Justice as a Principle
(1) Family was just an example and I wasn’t talking about family regarding crime. Personally, and I am sure that many people agree with me, when they say that they prefer their family to strangers. This is subjective however it is normal. Crime is a more serious issue (which I am sure that my opponent agrees with) than viewing your family subjectively (not in regards to crime). It is not contradictory. What I thought was implied was not understood by my opponent. What I meant by my argument was that family doesn’t have any major consequences regarding viewing them subjectively. Viewing criminals subjectively will have major consequences (as explained in my arguments).
(2) The example that my opponent provided is very different to what my argument actually said. In response to me saying that subjectivity is undesirable, my opponent provides an example regarding the law. I never said that subjectivity should be against the law. If it were to be against the law then of course there would be undesirable consequences however I just said that it is unreasonable to view court cases subjectively (on purpose) and to promote it.
R2 - Justice in Application
(1) a) This actually has no relevance to what I said. I said that harsher crimes deter crime. My opponent has told me that the prison population has increased however this has no relevance to my argument. My argument specifically spoke about harsher sentencing. Showing the amount of criminals just tells me that there is more crime and this is another reason to increase sentences. It doesn’t show a clear correlation between harsher prison sentences and fear. There are many other factors and this argument doesn’t even mention harsher sentences. Just the amount of prisoners.
b) Gun crimes does not cover all crimes and that is one very specific area. This is not a debate that is specific to any country or state and in terms of proportion to the world this is a pretty small area. Due to the fact that this is the only area that we can observe that has had these results there is no evidence that this isn’t a result to many other factors. Here we can observe the other possible factors: employment rate and gun control laws. Since this one area we cannot observe whether or not this will be the same for the majority.
c) Firstly, that hasn’t really refuted my case. Even if the effect is only minimal (which is still preferable to mercy), my actual point was showing that mercy wouldn’t be as effective however since there has been a misunderstanding I will refute my opponent’s case. Firstly, I will repeat this again. My opponent agrees that it does prevent crime to some extent. Secondly, this is not specific to everywhere.
(2) a) Well, if they are given a long sentence then they have clearly done something wrong. If they have done something wrong then they already know how to commit crimes. Also, extreme violence and murder can result in the execution of the criminal and sometimes life sentence this means that they will not be released until the end of their lives or an extremely long period of time. As a result, this means that they will not be able to commit crimes for a long period of time. Since my opponent has provided no source for this statement I assume that there is no statistical evidence to suggest that long prison sentences actually does increase crime.
b) People that have broken the law don’t deserve to have jobs. This was covered in my previous rounds although I will expand upon it. We cannot allow criminals to be part of jobs just to boost the economy. Criminals are a threat to society and since they have committed crimes worthy of a criminal record it is good that they should get a criminal record. I have already given the example of it being unrealistic to give a murderer the job of a teacher so I will provide a more suitable example. Would you allow ‘anyone’ that has committed a crime worthy of sentencing to jail the job of being a lawyer in court or the judge? The answer should be no and I will be happy to debate you separately if you believe that the answer is yes for you (although I find this unlikely).
(3) This argument seems to be putting money over lives. My opponent claims that prisons are taking too much money and too much space however is my opponent claiming that we shouldn’t have prisons and should allow murderers and rapists to freely walk around the street? I hope that this is not what they are suggesting. Yes, the government should set the management of money as a high priority but they should not prioritize this over the lives and safety of the public.
My opponent has misunderstood my rehabilitation argument that I provided. I said that they should receive all of this whilst they are in prison therefore it is part of the reason as to why they should be arrested and imprisoned if they are found guilty. Rehabilitation alone is pointless since it does not work immediately and often takes several weeks to even begin having an effect. If you keep prisoners out of jail and solely rely on rehabilitation. Rehabilitation was not an argument on its own it was a sub-part of a whole argument. I agree that rehabilitation is an argument pro-mercy however that was not the case in my argument.
When I said that the victim / society is allowed to inflict harm upon the felon I never stated the equivalent amount of harm and I never stated that it was necessarily physical harm. Harm can be defined as: “use (something) to bad effect or for a bad purpose” this does not necessarily imply physical harm. It can even mean prison - which is what I was referring to in this case. My opponent seems to be relying on one example of millions of major crimes that have been committed. What does this tell us about the strength of other examples?
The fact cannot be completely dismissed since it is still true in that certain area. The same logical principle applies to your own arguments (as I stated before) you have kept arguments specific to certain areas / states and therefore you cannot completely dismiss my arguments unless you accept the dismissal of your own arguments made by me.
R3 - What is mercy?
I never contested with the fact that mercy does not have any kind of justice. I specifically said that it is arbitrary, meaning that people will be sympathetic to some people over others. It also opens up the possibility to discrimination and racism in particular since there is no clear margin between right and wrong when acting mercifully in court. A 12 year old child is much more likely to get away with murder in a system of mercy than a 40 year old man.
R4 - Miscellaneous
I can’t really make a rebuttal on this because my opponent has labeled miscellaneous as a heading and hasn’t referred to anything here other than my sources not being labelled.
This is just a summary of what has happened in this round because I feel like there is something that I need to mention here. Whilst I have responded to all of my opponent’s claims and clearly labelled each heading and responded to each one. My opponent has failed to properly respond to my framework or provide an alternative one and this is problematic for my opponent since at the moment under my framwork strict justice is preferable to mercy.
Thanks for the debate, famous! I'll address Con's case now.
Firstly, Con claims that the criminal justice system (CJS) is a form of strict justice. This is incorrect. As I noted, mercy and strict justice are relative terms, such that both can be found anywhere justice is involved, even in the CJS. You can have a more mercy-centered CJS just as you can have stricter CJS's.
Secondly, this is not a quality vs. quantity issue. Because the resolution is making an "on balance" claim, Con MUST show that strict justice should be applied in most cases where justice is an issue. When you consider that a 5 year old stealing a cookie from a cookie jar is an issue of justice, you can realize that there are so many justice-related issues that focusing on the CJS ignores most justice-related issues. Given this, Con is BY DEFINITION failing to meet his burden in this debate because he is failing to show that strict justice should be used in most cases where justice is at issue. Therefore, you ought to vote Pro.
Justice as a Principle
1. The contradiction stands. Con says it is okay to treat family subjectively, but not criminals. Unless Con can provide a compelling reason why one type of subjectivity is okay, he cannot say that subjectivity for the other is not okay, and he certainly cannot make blanket "subjectivity = bad" arguments, which he attempts to do, since obviously some subjectivity isn't bad. Pro has no compelling reason why this isn't wrong to treat family subjectively, but he attempts to give some, saying that it is "normal," that "people agree with me," and that "it has no major consequences." Con's first point is an is/ought fallacy. Just because something "is" the case, does not mean it "ought" to be the case. It is normal in some societies for people to marry and rape child brides, but this doesn't make it just. The second reason is an ad populum fallacy. Even if people agree with you, that doesn't mean you're right. Once, people thought that the Earth was flat, but that didn't mean they were correct. The final assertion Con makes is also false. Acting subjectively towards family members can produce unjust results, and since "justice" is the highest value present in this debate, anything that undermines justice is "major." For instance, if I were judging a contest, and preferred my family member just because they were my family member, I could unfairly deny other people a win.
2. Con misinterprets the point of my example. My example shows that the application of rules (legal rules or moral/ethical rules) without regard for mitigating circumstances leads to injustice. Even in court, this holds. In order to avoid mistreating people like the AC repairman, we must factor in mitigating circumstances which requires a degree of subjectivity.
Justice in Application
1(a). Con says his argument was specific to harsher sentences, and since my source doesn't talk about it, my source isn't relevant. Unfortunately, I think Con misread my source; it does actually talk about harsher sentences. My source specifically says that crime rates increased "in spite of increased sentences." Con says that the fact that there is more crime is a "reason to increase sentences," but, my evidence clearly says that crime rates went up even after increasing sentences. We can conclude, therefore, that harsher sentences have no deterrent effect. Since Con fails to understand the source and to provide even a remotely applicable rebuttal, we can EXTEND this evidence. Since it is the only emprical evidence presented in the text of the debate, we must defer to it. The numbers disprove Con's whole deterrence theory.
1(b). The data here, while confined to gun crimes, still shows that on principle, harsher sentences are ineffective deterrents. Why would harsh sentences, if they worked as deterrents, not work on gun crimes? There doesn't seem to be any specific reason why they wouldn't, so it further dents this notion that harsh penalties really deter. Plus, my other evidence is broader than just gun crimes.
1(c). I don't agree that it does prevent crime. A 2% change could easily be attributable to other factors not connected ot the harshness of the penalty. The point of this evidence was to show that even some of the harshest laws (3-strike laws), do not adequately deter. And, even if the did deter, they fail to take into account mitigating circumstances, which renders them unjust.
2(a). Sure, if they are in prison, they probably have committed a crime. But, in a lot of cases, these crimes are nonviolent or were committed by offenders who could be more easily rehabilitated without incarceration. Incarcerating them just teaches nonviolent criminals how to be more violent and makes offenders who could be salvaged unsalvageable. Con also incorrectly suggests that I provided no evidence for this assertion. In fact, if you look back at my case, I offered data from the Canadian government (see R2, Source 2) that support the idea that softer sentences that reduce criminal's exposure to the system reduce crime rates.
2(b). Con says: "People that have broken the law don’t deserve to have jobs." So, a kid who gets busted for pot once or twice when he's 18 deserves to never be employed again ever in his life? That is patently absurd. After he does his time or serves his sentence, he should be allowed to find a job. This goes back to my argument that people who have paid their debt shouldn't have to be treated as if they're still debtors (see my case, Injustice to the Offender). Plus, he's not even a violent offender. Moreover, Con's position would merely increase crime. If this kid or others can find jobs, the only way they can make money is through illegal activities, which they'll be forced to resort to.
3. It doesn't put money over lives because harsher sentences don't reduce crime and don't save lives. This argument prevents wasting money on totally ineffective policies.
Even if rehabilitation occurs in prison, it is still Pro ground. Prison programs that rehabilitate are more merciful and kind, because they're less punishment focused. They're trying to emphasize helping, not punishing, the criminal. Plus, the topic overview in round one unequivocally states that rehabilitation is Pro ground; rehabilitation is still rehabilitation even if it occurs in prison. Therefore, Con's cannot advocate for rehabilitation without supporting my side of the argument. My impacts (a) and (b) stand.
My argument was a general critique about "retributive" models of justice, and applies outside of the CJS as well as within. It legitimizes the idea of "getting back" at others, and, logically, can result in escalating cycles of violence as people seek retribution against each other for wrongs. I don't need more than 1 example, because it is logically self-evident.
What is Mercy?
Arbitrary isn't the same as subjective. Mercy is subjective, but with good reason. It recognizes that there are legitimate mitigating circumstances that should be considered. And why is it wrong to treat a child, who cannot make good judgments, differently from an adult?
The sources not being labeled is problematic for the reasons I noted. Those reasons are DROPPED.
Also, Con cannot rebut any points he dropped, as these would be illicit new arguments.
Con's Case Fails
1. Deterrence Fails; studies prove this
Pro's Case Succeeds
1. Mercy is key for Self-release
Thus, the topic is affirmed. Please VOTE PRO! Thank you!
Overview / Framework
The CJS was intended to be a form of strict justice and it primarily is. I understand that CJS has merciful elements; CJS is a form of strict justice. I understand that in some areas CJS can me more merciful and in some CJS can be more strict justice. The purpose of CJS isn’t to be merciful - it is to enforce the law and make sure that those that break it are punished accordingly.
This is an on balance (OB) issue and it can be seen in two ways. The first way to view it, is by analysing which one should be applied in most cases. The second way to view it is to look at how drastically people are harmed by strict justice compared to mercy. This is how I am viewing the OB issue and I am not failing to meet my BOP. I am referring to CJS (which is an issue that relates to harm inflicted upon society). Strict justice inflicts less harm upon society than mercy does. This is a valid way to interpret this debate.
This is an OB topic. He and I haven’t established a common view on the meaning behind the definition itself. I understand that we aren’t talking about no mercy vs no strict justice, what I am arguing is that strict justice causes less harm than mercy. Society may have subjective views on the issue. The harms and consequences of mercy are worse/better, we can analyze the issue on an objective level and can prove which one is preferable and should be valued more by looking at the objective negatives and balancing out which consequences are more mitigating.
He is now claiming something different to what he originally said. First, he states that mercy releases the self. Now he is saying that mercy is the only way to release the victim of negative emotion.
“early release of prisoners is an insult to victims and makes a mockery of our justice system.”
To prove that what he is saying is false I will provide an example of a child rapist. I will allow him to decide on whether or not the emotions were positive or negative:
‘ A child rapist has been released ... [he] was serving five life sentences for carrying out sex attacks on his stepdaughter for six years. His victim, who was eight when the paedophile first struck in the late-1970s, said she fears Williams will now track her down to carry out threats to harm her again. The woman said: “He will come for me, he has made that clear. “This is a monster who believes his own lies and his own rules. He is violent and evil. People need to be aware of how dangerous he is.” It [also] ruled he should be moved from his open prison to a closed one. Ordinarily, he would not have been eligible for parole again for a further two years.’
There are many of these cases and I will source more examples for different crimes to show that these negative emotions are not just for rapists. It is the same for thieves, frauds and vandals. I agreed that it can help to release negative emotions however this is not always the case and there are many safer options, e.g. counselling.
I will now respond to his mugging responses:
1) I agreed that in these scenarios it is okay; crime is increasing, more crime is continuing to occur in the world. Small arguments can be resolved with mercy; he has said that this is an OB debate and as a result I agree that mercy is preferable in this scenario; with increasing crime this evidently means that the number of victims is also rising with a positive correlation to criminals. This means that there is an increasing number of scenarios in which we must choose whether or not to forgive criminals.
2) This point has no impact upon the resolution. It shows that mercy is necessary for self release and that strict justice is necessary for correct punishment.
3) Assuming that the court is merciful and gives them a shorter sentence. The child rapist who was let out early proves that shorter sentences due to the court being merciful is not always the best choice. This is because releasing prisoners early exposes the victims; contradicting the purpose of his contention regarding self release. Letting the victims out early, as you have proposed, creates fear. It can be good in sometimes; you cannot always know if it is beneficial and it is safer and more objective to to punish criminals, the way that criminals are supposed to be judged according to the law.
He seems to have misunderstood my argument. I never said that I agree that first time offenders should be released. I said, they can be released as part of the CJS. I said that they can and do get released for being first time offenders. Nothing was dropped. I agreed that first time offenders are released (not should be) and we need to impose a system of strict justice in order to make sure that these first time offenders do not commit crimes again. He states that I’ve been arguing for the Pro position because I left that part of his argument. It was a fact, not an argument, that does not mean that I’m arguing for Pro. The rehabilitation evidence was not dropped. Rehabilitation appears to be the merciful option, it can occur whilst strict justice is in place; the scenario is in support of both strict justice and mercy, the argument has no impact upon the resolution.
I know that mercy does not mean that prisoners will not be jailed. It does mean that the government is more lenient towards criminals and more criminals will be let off; have shorter sentences; less murderers and rapists will be sentenced to death / life sentence and there is less fear towards prison and the justice system and criminals will roam on the streets (not because they have walked away without punishment), because they have had shorter sentences and the court has been merciful.
Injustices to the Offender
He concedes that a criminal record is necessary for violent criminals so I won’t respond to that. He talks about non-violent criminals. Non violent criminals include: thieves, drug dealers and vandals. The record doesn’t mean that you can’t get a job. The record just informs the company employing you of your previous offenses. If a bank isn’t informed that they are employing a thief, then that can be problematic. If a school isn’t informed that they are employing a drug dealer as a science teacher, that can be problematic. If a family are looking for a regular gardener they don’t want a vandal to be gardening. The record doesn’t particularly affect your job unless you have committed a serious crime. The record informs your job that you have a criminal history.
Analyzing his source for his example in detail, it is clear that he has conveniently left out some major details that were not mentioned. The same person had been convicted and arrested for fraudulently in order to obtain $80 worth of goods. Within a year of his release he was jailed for forging cheques. He didn’t just forget to pay back his fine on the 3rd occasion. He refused to do so despite multiple warnings. He had committed 3 offenses regarding obtaining / withholding money, the court found that it was likely that he would attempt to do so again and they came to the conclusion that their only option was to give him a life sentence. It wasn’t ridiculous.
The SA example is dropped because you provided two that were similar. The first one referred to chaos with strict justice and the second, order with mercy. By showing that there isn’t chaos with strict justice, that proved that mercy and strict justice were equal.. The SA example also proved to be problematic since this was specific to a certain area, culture and time period.. He failed to show that mercy would have beneficial effects in most areas. This example only reflects a small portion of the world. In most of the world we can see that the effects will not be as beneficial.
He has failed to show how mercy would work as a primary feature in the CJS and I have met my BOP. He has also failed to provide any arguments that haven’t been refuted by me. I urge voters to vote Con!
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