The Instigator
Gondun
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
ishallannoyyo
Pro (for)
Winning
8 Points

Prisons should focus on rehabilitating criminals

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
ishallannoyyo
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/2/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,268 times Debate No: 32013
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)

 

Gondun

Con

Hello and thank you for viewing this debate.

First round is for acceptance, but the pro can make arguments if s/he chooses. This debate is about the United States prisons. Also, the pro is trying to prove that prisons should be mainly rehabilitative, not just that they should use a little rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation is defined as the restoration of someone to a useful place in society.

Because prisons do not currently focus on rehabilitation, the Burden of Proof is mainly on the pro, but I will be making some of my own arguments as well.

If you want to challenge anything said here, do so in the comments before accepting. If you accept it is assumed that you agree to everything stated above.
ishallannoyyo

Pro

I accept the rules my opponent has laid out. I choose not to present my arguments this round. However, a quick note is that as PRO I merely need to show that rehabilitation should be a focus, NOT a replacement in the prison systems (e.g. to focus only on rehabilitation, not punishment.) Jail sentences and punishments will still be in place.
Debate Round No. 1
Gondun

Con

Thank you for 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.

1. http://www.ncpa.org...
2. http://www.proutglobe.org... punishment-debate/
3. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk...
ishallannoyyo

Pro


I thank my opponent for his comments.


In a traditional prison system that focuses on punishment, criminals are deterred from committing crimes because they fear the punishment.


If this was true than American would have no crime, however in reality this is not the case. America houses 25% of the world’s inmates [1] and has a largely retributive justice system (as seen by the death penalty, and their tough stances on crime [1]). Clearly, if a retributive system deters crime, why would the crime rate be so high?


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


This is a reckless assumption that is not backed by stats. Education in America is also paid for by taxes, so there is no reason why someone should not be able to go to school plus student loans are always an option. Furthermore, my opponent fails to understand what rehabilitation is, as in rehab they don’t teach you job skills, but how to quit drug and alcohol addictions.


Justice is lost in a rehabilitative prison system.


My opponent continues to misunderstand what rehabilitation really is. My opponent also makes the claim that prisoners must be punished in order to receive justice. However, as I pointed out in R1 a system focused on rehabilitation will not get rid of punishment entirely, criminals will still be punished. However, they must be punished fairly and be given a chance to contribute to society (which is what justice is about).


The final problem with rehabilitation is the public opinion. According to Peter Standford, the public opinion is that criminals are bad and will always be bad.


Public opinion should have no say in justice. Furthermore, seeing as how public opinion is against criminals, that is an argument in my favour. America needs to give a chance to criminals to show that they have changed, not that they are still criminals. If people get out of jail and everybody is hostile to them, that will only turn them back to crime.


Over 75% of people already think that courts are already too easy on criminals.


Once again, what people think does not matter in a justice system.


I will now move on to my own contentions.


C1: REHABILITATION REDUCES CRIME


Rehabilitation as opposed to harsher punishments is more effective at reducing crime levels. Our current system puts criminals into miserable cells with other criminals where they learn how to become better criminals. 2/3rds of criminals leaving jail will reoffend within 3 years with a more serious crime. [2] Experiments done in San Francisco jails show that a more intensive therapy and rehab program reduced re-offending rates by 83% and reduced crime in the jail to zero [2]. Clearly, teaching prisoners how to quit addictions, become a better person, and to take responsibility for their actions will help them contribute back to society, instead of being imprisoned over and over. Norway has a supreme amount of focus on rehabilitative justice system and has a per capita murder rate of 0.6, while the US has a per capita murder rate of 4.8. [3]



One argument is enough to fulfill my BOP and affirm the resolution. A rehabilitative justice system will reduce crime, so prisons need to focus more on rehab. I look forward to my opponent’s response!


Sources



  1. http://www.lawlibrary.ie...

  2. http://www.nytimes.com...

  3. http://en.wikipedia.org...

Debate Round No. 2
Gondun

Con

My opponent says that deterrence doesn't work because then we would have no crime, but this is faulty logic. The crime rate is what it is because deterrence works. If we used rehabilitation, potential criminals would be less afraid of going to prison, thus increasing the crime rate. I have already given reliable evidence for the effectiveness of deterrence, the Pro just refuses to acknowledge it.

The Pro tries to rebut my arguments about how rehabilitation is an incentive to offend and how it violates justice by saying that rehab is only for drugs and alcohol. This is not true. I thought I made it clear enough in the first round when I stated that rehabilitation is defined as the restoration of someone to a useful place in society, but apparently that was not enough. Wikipedia says that rehabilitation means "to restore to useful life, as through therapy and education" or "to restore to good condition, operation, or capacity"[1]. In both of these definitions, rehabilitation is trying to turn criminals into good citizens, and while drug and alcohol addictions are part of that, they are not the whole thing. The main focus of rehabilitation is to educate the criminals so they can get a job and be a productive member of society. For this reason, my arguments about incentive to offend and justice are still valid.

According to Helen F. Ladd in the NY Times, "NO one seriously disputes the fact that students from disadvantaged households perform less well in school, on average, than their peers from more advantaged backgrounds"[2]. This is what I was talking about in my incentive to offend argument. Poorer people usually do not do as well in school and don't always have the money for college. Even with student loans, college is expensive and not everyone has the money for it. This should be enough proof that there is at least some incentive to offend with rehabilitation.

The arguments that the Pro made against my justice point are not a sufficient rebuttal. He says that there would still be justice, but he missed the point of my argument. The main point is that you are rewarding the criminal after he commits a crime instead of punishing him for it.

The Pro seems to attach my arguments about public opinion to those of justice, but they are two separate arguments. He says that public opinion has no place in a justice system, because the United States is a democracy, public opinion always matters. In a democracy, the public votes for what they want and things they don't want will not be very likely to get anywhere. Also, he says that if public opinion is against criminals, then we should rehabilitate them, but my evidence from Stanford was from after the criminals were rehabilitated. This shows that even after rehabilitation, not many people are willing to accept criminals.
On the Pro's argument about rehabilitation reducing crime, he has very little solid evidence. He says that 2/3rds (66%) of criminals leaving jail will reoffend within 3 years, then goes on to say how rehabilitation can reduce recidivism by 83%. As far as I know, you can't have a negative recidivism rate, so these numbers cannot be used together. Also, the Pro's evidence from Norway may sound nice, but they have a very different society from us. There are so many other variables that you cannot say that rehabilitation is the cause of their low crime rate.

Even if you accept the Pro's argument about how rehab reduces recidivism, that does not show that it will reduce the crime rate. The deterrence that has been shown to come from prisons would clearly outweigh the benefits of reduced recidivism. Deterrence has been proven to stop 15 crimes for each criminal locked up, so taking away deterrence would increase the crime rate 15x. Rehabilitation, on the other hand, only stops up to 83% of current crime, if that stat is to be believed. When compared, 15 times as much crime is much bigger than 83% of the current crime rate.

I am winning this debate because all my arguments against rehabilitation are still standing and because my opponent's single argument has been disproved and outweighed.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...(penology)
2. http://www.nytimes.com...
ishallannoyyo

Pro

I thank my opponent for his comments.

The crime rate is what it is because deterrence works.

Why then would the crime rate EVER increase as clearly MORE people are being incarcerated? [1] Shouldn’t every single category of crime be consistently falling?

I have already given reliable evidence for the effectiveness of deterrence, the Pro just refuses to acknowledge it.

The same could be said. My opponent has completely ignored the fact that Norway’s crime rate per capita is 4.2 crimes per 100 000 citizens lower, and Norway’s prison system is completely rehabilitative.

The Pro tries to rebut my arguments about how rehabilitation is an incentive to offend and how it violates justice.

This is also flawed. If rehabilitation is an incentive to offend, why would Norway have a lower per capita crime rate than the United States? Furthermore, the majority of what is taught in rehabilitative systems are skills that are designed so when these people get out of prison, they contribute to society. Prison’s in Kenya are teaching prisoners making clothes, building furniture, and farming crops, valuable skills that will allow them to contribute to society. [2] The skills that are taught in prisons can be learned elsewhere, not only in prison.

This is what I was talking about in my incentive to offend argument. Poorer people usually do not do as well in school and don’t always have the money for college. Even with student loans, college is expensive and not everyone has the money for it.

If poorer people are not successful in school, why would they be successful in prison? In prison’s, they do not teach you math and science. This point on student loans is completely irrelevant.

The main point is that you are rewarding the criminal after he commits a crime instead of punishing him for it.

Prison is still punishment. Isolation from the outside world is the punishment. My opponent would rather these people be punished, then go out AND REOFFEND WITH A MORE SERIOUS CRIME rather than for them to offend ONCE, and then help society.

He says that public opinion has no place in a justice system, because the United States is a democracy, public opinion always matters. In a democracy, the public votes for what they want and things they don’t want will not be likely to get anywhere.

This is a completely ridiculous point. First, public opinion does not affect justice at all. Just because the majority of people think a man is guilty DOES NOT MAKE HIM GUILTY. Just because the majority of the population thinks that criminals will always be criminals does not make it so. Just because the majority of the population disagrees with rehabilitation DOES NOT MAKE IT INEFFECTIVE. Secondly, the public does not vote on every single aspect of life, so that is invalid.

This shows that even after rehabilitation, not many people are willing to accept criminals.

After checking my opponent’s source, it says LITERALLY NOTHING ABOUT PUBLIC OPINION. Source 3 of R2 merely states What's the point of rehabilitation if society won't forgive and forget? As Britain debates the fate of Philip Lawrence's killer, Peter Stanford argues that anyone can turn their life around – with the right help. And one ex-offender tells his story.” Nowhere in that is public opinion even mentioned with stats, plus this was about Britain, not the United States so it is COMPLETELY irrelevant. Furthermore, the source even goes on to support rehabilitation.

As far as I know, you can’t have a negative recidivism rate, so these numbers cannot go together.

The number is not negative. It is very simple: 2/3rds of people will reoffend. After rehabilitation, reoffending rates fell by 83%. That means instead of 66% of criminals reoffending, it is more like 12% of criminals reoffending.

Also, the Pro’s evidence from Norway may sound nice, but they have a very different society from us. There are so many other variables that you cannot say that rehabilitation is the cause of their low crime rate.

Rehabilitation is completely the cause of their low crime rate. I have proven that rehab reduces repeat offenses and turns criminals into working members of society. Both of these lead to a lower crime rate.

Deterrence has been proven to stop 15 crimes for each criminal locked up, so taking away deterrence would increase the crime rate 15X.

This stat is completely bogus. If the United States has a reported crime rate of 11 877 218 crimes [3], meaning that without the deterrence factor we would have 178 158 270 crimes, or roughly 1/3 people being criminals. Furthermore, if this was true we would have a steadily dropping crime rate as we are incarcerating more people, yet as I have shown this is not the case. FURTHERMORE, why would we have repeat crime then if prison deters so many people? My opponent also makes the mistake of ASSUMING THERE WILL BE NO MORE PUNISHMENT. Upon researching this case, I found a study titled “Prisons failing to deter repeat criminals in 41 states.” Clearly my opponent is flawed in this point.

All of my opponent’s points are extremely flawed with incorrect stats. All the facts point to rehabilitation decreasing crime and helping people help society. I look forward to my opponent’s response!

Source:

  1. http://www.foxnews.com...
  2. http://www.guardian.co.uk...
  3. http://www.mapsofworld.com...
  4. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com...



Debate Round No. 3
Gondun

Con

My opponent starts by saying that if deterrence worked, the crime rate would not be rising, but this is illogical. The crime rate is rising because of poverty, society's loss of morals, and things like that. Deterrence is the only thing keeping it from rising more explosively.

I did not ignore the Pro's statistics about Norway. I said that Norway was a separate country from the US and policies that work there would not necessarily work here. He also says that Norway has a lower crime rate than they US because of rehabilitation. This does not mean that rehabilitation is the cause of this lower crime rate though, because almost every other country has a lower crime rate than the US and most do not have Norway's rehabilitation system. If rehabilitation were the only difference, there would be a clearer line between rehabilitative countries and non rehabilitative.

On my incentive to offend argument, the Pro gives no real rebuttal, he only says that rehabilitation works. This does not address the issue or provide any reason that it is not true. If we are offering potential criminals all these benefits, then there is really much less reason to stay out of jail.

The Pro says "If poorer people are not successful in school, why would they be successful in prison?" but this helps my argument. If, as the Pro says, people will be equally unsuccessful in prison, why would rehab work?

Against my argument about justice and rewarding criminals, the Pro says that they would still be punished. While they will still be kept out of society, they will still be given rehabilitation, free education, free drug rehab, and other things that they did not earn. Justice is getting what is deserved, and criminals do not deserve a reward for crime.

The Pro goes on to say that public opinion should have no part in this because public opinion can't change facts. I'm not saying that public opinion being against rehabilitation will make it any less effective, but it will make it less of a possible choice. Policies and laws that go against a majority of the public opinion do not usually last very long and elected officials that make unpopular choices do not stay in office. Because America is a democracy, we cannot go against the will of the people.

The Pro tries to discredit my argument about public opinion in three ways. First, he says that my source says nothing about public opinion and actually supports him. While the article I sited does give support for both sides, that does not mean it cannot help me. The Pro says that "it says LITERALLY NOTHING ABOUT PUBLIC OPINION", but he does not appear to have read the article. If he had read past the first paragraph, he would eventually have come to the part that says "'We don't want your sort here,' was the very clear message they were given." and "The popular prejudice about prisoners remains stuck in Dickensian times " they are a bad lot and always will be and should be treated as such." This clearly supports my public opinion argument, so it is still valid. The next way he attacks my public opinion argument is that it has no numerical stats, but I provided those from a different source that said 75% of people already think courts are too easy on criminals. Finally he says that it is not from the US, so it is irrelevant. That may be true, but if it is then all my opponent's evidence about Norway's rehabilitation system is also irrelevant. I will agree to drop this article if the Pro agrees to drop his Norway evidence.

The evidence against deterrence that the Pro brings up looks nice in the title, but it is not really talking about the same thing as I am. If you actually read the article, it argues that prisons do not deter recidivism, but I am arguing that prisons deter crime from happening in the first place. Because the article says nothing about deterrence before committing the crime, it has no effect here. Also, the Pro tries to disprove deterrence by saying there would be a huge number of crimes without it, but that is my point exactly. While rehabilitation will not take away all deterrence, having enough rehabilitation to make a difference on recidivism would still cause a significant reduction of deterrence.

I win this debate for four main reasons. First, I have shown how deterrence from a prison based system stops more crime than can be avoided with rehabilitation. Second, I have shown how rehabilitation is not justice. Third, I have shown that it would be impractical to actually use rehabilitation because public opinion is against it. Fourth, in the first round the Pro accepted the majority of the burden of proof but has only focused on rebutting my arguments. For these reasons, you should vote for me.
ishallannoyyo

Pro

I thank my opponent for his comments and a great debate.


The crime rate is rising because of poverty, society’s loss of morals, and things like that. Deterrence is the only thing keeping it from rising more explosively.

My opponent has not refuted my point that if the deterrence factor was legitimate, 1/3 people would be criminals. He has also completely ignored the fact that in 41 states DETERRENCE DOES NOT WORK. Also, this is clearly not the case because of the reoffending rate of 66%. These people have already been through jail, why would they commit more crime if they would be deterred? My opponent’s math is completely faulty. According to my opponent: more people in jail = more crime deterred therefore putting lots of people in jail should decrease the crime rate. CLEARLY, this is incorrect as shown by my stats. This point has fallen.


This does not mean that rehabilitation is the cause of this lower crime rate though

Yes it does. Norway is one of the safest countries on earth, much lower incarceration rate, and only a 20% recidivism rate (keep in mind that there are fewer prisoners, so in reality that 20% is less than 5% compared to America’s 67%) [1]


If we are offering potential criminals all these benefits, then there is really much less reason to stay out of jail.

Except for the fact that you WILL STILL SERVE TIME. Furthermore, my opponent is under the impression that job skills will be taught, when in reality (as I have shown), it is more practical skills. For example, Gordon Ramsey has made a television show of him teaching prisoner’s how to cook to be able to give back to society. IS THE ONLY PLACE YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO COOK JAIL? Obviously not, this point is ridiculous.


If, as pro says, people will be equally unsuccessful in prison, why would rehab work?

It already is working (as I have shown numerous times). I was showing how prison does not function like school, they do not teach you what you would typically learn in school.


While they will still be kept out of society, they will still be given rehabilitation, free education, free drug rehab, and other things that they did not earn. Justice is getting what is deserved, and criminals do not deserve a reward for crime.

Firstly, education and drug rehab are services offered almost everywhere for free outside of jail. Secondly, justice is not putting someone in jail, releasing them, and having them reoffend with a MORE SERIOUS CRIME. My opponent would rather have someone steal a car, be sent to jail, released, and then murder someone. Rehabilitation is completely justice, it is completely unfair of us not to give criminals a second chance.


Policies and laws that go against a majority of the public opinion do not usually last very long and elected officials that make unpopular choices do not stay in office.

This is completely ridiculous. THE SUPREME COURT IS NOT ELECTED; it is separate from the other branches of government. Furthermore, what my opponent is suggesting is that public opinion is important in terms of justice. Let’s say the supreme court finds a man not guilty, and almost 100% of the population finds the man guilty. What happens now? The Supreme Court is going against the rule of the people, isn’t it??? PUBLIC OPINION DOES NOT AFFECT JUSTICE, PUBLIC OPINION DOES NOT AFFECT REHAB.


If he had read past the first paragraph, he would eventually have come to the part that says “We don’t want your sort here.”

I Ctrl-F (searched) the file. That was not found in the entire document. Furthermore, this entire thing is about Britain’s public opinion, so regardless this is completely invalid.


but I provided those from a different source that said 75% of people already think courts are too easy on criminals.

This does not mean that they would be against rehabilitation. Furthermore, as I have stated, THIS DOES NOT MATTER IN JUSTICE.


That may be true, but if it is then all my opponent’s evidence about Norway’s rehabilitation system is also irrelevant.

My information is not irrelevant. Your information you attempted to pass of as American public opinion, when it is British public opinion. On the other hand, my stats merely show rehabilitation reduces crime in Norway, and should reduce crime in America.


it argues that prisons do not deter recidivism, but I am arguing that prisons deter crime from happening in the first place.

This is completely ridiculous. If prisons in America are punishing people and people avoid going to prison, WHY WOULD CRIMINALS REOFFEND???


OPPONENT’S CASE

FIRSTLY – LACK DETERRENCE

Clearly not the case, why would criminals reoffend if it deterred people? Why would crime rates ever increase? My opponent says that deterrence is what keeps the crime rate down, and without deterrence the crime rate would BE 15X HIGHER. My opponent has essentially said that secretly 100 million Americans are criminals, just deterrence stops them from committing crimes. This is completely ridiculous, this point falls.


SECONDLY – ENCOURAGES CRIME

This is incorrect. What is taught in rehab are basic life skills and how to quit addictions. Substance abuse clinics are found outside of jail. Schools are found outside of jail. Cooking classes are found outside of jail. My opponent is assuming that a free university level education will be found in jails, which is not the case. This point fails.



THIRDLY – JUSTICE IS LOST

This is also ridiculous. Justice is not encouraging criminals to reoffend multiple times. Rehabilitation does not mean no punishment, going to jail is punishment. Serving time is punishment. Being taught how to cook, and maybe how to make clothes to sustain yourself is not losing justice. This is a completely faulty point and falls.



FOURTHLY – PUBLIC OPINION IS AGAINST REHABILITATION

Also completely ridiculous. Public opinion being against rehabilitation does not make it less effective nor does the public’s opinion even matter. If public opinion was against drug rehab clinics (WHICH ARE FOUND OUTSIDE OF JAIL), should they be shut down? Of course not. This point fails.



MY CASE

REHABILITATION LOWERS CRIME RATES

As I have shown, Norway has an extremely low crime rate primarily as a result of their rehabilitation system. Rehab reduces reoffending rates by 80% and allows criminals to help society. My opponent has attempted to clash this point by saying rehab increases crime rates, but I have already refuted that point. Therefore, my point stands and my opponent’s points do not. My BOP has been fulfilled and it is clear that I have won this debate.

SOURCES:

  1. http://thinkprogress.org...

Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Pennington 3 years ago
Pennington
GondunishallannoyyoTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Both did very well. Pro made some convincing arguments. I did not think Con covered them well enough to earn the argument vote. I give sourcing to Pro also. both had good spelling and conduct.
Vote Placed by Misterscruffles 3 years ago
Misterscruffles
GondunishallannoyyoTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's arguments were more convincing- though this was a close debate.