Prisons should focus on rehabilitating criminals
Debate Rounds (4)
The debate is on whether prisons should focus on trying to rehabilitate criminals, so both sides must try to prove that their side is better, not that both are good.
The burden of proof is equally shared.
Rehabilitation is defined as the restoration of someone to a useful place in society.
If you wish to discus who is proving what or my definition of rehabilitation, please do it in the comments before accepting.
The first problem with rehabilitation is its lack of deterrence. In a traditional prison system that focuses on punishment, criminals are deterred from committing crimes because they fear the punishment. Rehabilitation would significantly decrease the deterrent effect of prisons because it sends the message that they are going easy on crime. In a report for the National Center for Policy Analysis, Morgan Reynolds writes "On average, about 15 crimes are eliminated for each additional prisoner locked up."1 If prisons start going easier on crime, the crimes that were stopped by deterrence will be committed. In addition to this, increasing the length of prison sentences will decrease the amount of crime by 25%.2 Since lengthening prison sentences goes against rehabilitation, rehabilitating criminals would deny us this benefit.
Another problem with rehabilitation in prisons is that it actually encourages criminals to commit crime. In general, criminals come from poor communities without a real chance for much more. Rehabilitation offers them a chance to get an education and make something of their life, with the only price being a crime. For those that are already considering committing a crime, this is just icing on the cake. This also ties into my next point, which is justice.
Justice is lost in a rehabilitative prison system. Traditionally, justice is getting what one deserves, but rehabilitation does not do this. As I have said before, when a criminal commits a crime, rehabilitation would reward him with an education, whereas a conventional prison system would punish him for his crime. Justice is supposed to express society's disapproval of a criminal's action, not acceptance. There is also justice for the victim that must be looked at. When a crime is committed, the victim is hurt and requires justice to help make up for it. Helping the criminal does not give the victim justice and is not good for society.
The final problem with rehabilitation is the public opinion. According to Peter Stanford, the public opinion is that criminals are bad and will always be bad.3 This means that even after rehabilitation, the ex-criminals will not necessarily be welcomed back into society. Stanford goes on to say that when they tried to rehabilitate criminals, the public wanted nothing to do with them. If criminals cannot reenter society, then all of the rehabilitative work will have gone to waste. There is also evidence that public opinion does not support rehabilitation in general, not just criminals. Over 75% of people already think that courts are already too easy on criminals.1 If they already think that criminals are getting off easy, how much worse will it be if criminals are rehabilitated? If rehabilitation would be so heavily disliked, there is really no reason to use it.
In conclusion, prisons should not rehabilitate criminals because rehabilitation would increase the crime rate, deny justice, and go against public opinion.
2. http://www.proutglobe.org... punishment-debate/
First, he says "Most people believe that criminals can't be helped but that's not true." He concedes that public opinion is against criminals, but provides no evidence that rehab works. Second, he asks if drug addicts can't be helped. While I do agree that drug addicts can be helped, that is not the point of this debate. This debate is about criminals in general, not only drug addicts. Third, my opponent comes up with a hypothetical situation where a kid is "turned into a "gang banger" or drug dealers" but provides no proof or reason why this is true. Fourth, the Pro compares prison without rehabilitation to getting a bad grade on a test and not being able to change it, but that is the way life works. If you do something bad (not studying/stealing) you get the consequence (a bad grade/prison time). Finally, the Pro says that criminals aren't accepted into society with or without rehabilitation, but my point with that argument was to show that rehabilitation has no benefits, not to prove prison as good.
The Pro does not contend my argument about deterrence, so it can be assumed that he agrees with it. The same can be said about my incentive to commit crime and justice arguments. Because the Pro has no substantial arguments and my arguments go unopposed, I should win this debate.
On the Pro's arguments, everything here is based on his hypothetical situation, not on real evidence, so it doesn't really matter in this debate. His statistic of 90% success is nice, but also unsupported. If you can find a reliable source for this I am willing to accept it, but until then it is invalid.
The Pro still does not deny any of my claims about deterrence, incentive to commit crime, justice, or public opinion, so I win this debate.
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