Rehabilitation ought to be valued above Retribution in the United States criminal justice system
Debate Rounds (3)
"There are certain crimes that are simply too cruel, too sadistic, too hideous to be forgiven."
― John E. Douglas
Resolved: Rehabilitation ought to be valued above retribution in the United States criminal justice system
Before we begin, I would like to provide some definitions, courtesy of Merriam-Webster:
I: Rehabilitation: to restore to a former capacity or state of mind
II: Ought: strongly advised
III: Retribution: to give something in way of punishment
IV: United States Criminal Justice System: the collection of laws, courts, and prisons that have the purpose of reducing harm to the society
My value is Justice and my criterion is Determinism
V: Justice: the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments
VI: Determinism: A theory which holds that all actions have causes and effects. The character of the action then is a function of its cause.
Contention 1: Retribution gives criminals what they are due for their crimes
Sub-point A: People often confuse retribution with revenge. Vengeance signifies inflicting harm on the offender out of anger because of what he has done. Retribution is the rationally supported theory that the criminal deserves a punishment fitting the gravity of his crime. Retribution is not based on hatred for the criminal. Retribution is the theory that the criminal deserves to be punished and deserves to be punished in proportion to the gravity of his or her crime, whether or not the victim or anyone else desires it.
Sub-point B: Restorative justice critiques of the status quo in criminal justice often miss their mark because of the mistaken belief that current practice in criminal justice is essentially, or predominantly, retributive. What is being overlooked is that restorative justice responses often contain retributive and punitive elements themselves " and sometimes, such as in serious cases, necessarily so. Therefore, blaming retribution, or even punitiveness, for the ills of the criminal justice system is largely beside the point. Punishment and retribution cannot be ruled out by any system of justice.
Contention 2: Rehabilitation is insufficient in deterring crime rates
Sub-point A: By the 1930"s a new movement was underway. There was an emphasis on individual inmate treatment based on what the science of penology determined was needed. This led to the Medical Model prevalent in the 1960"s. The Medical Model was a theory that viewed criminals as having a physical disease. Prisons and jails were to diagnose the causes of crime in a person and prescribe a regimen to cure the illness. Many programs emerged from the Medical Model Era - Pre-release centers, home confinement, halfway houses and work/study programs. The focus on individual treatment took into account the social and criminal history of the offender, their personality, and unique needs. Everything was geared to prepare the inmate for release. The Medical Model was later criticized as coercive and encouraging deceit. Inmates had to take the prescribed treatment whether or not they wanted to, knowing they would get out only when they exhibited good behavior & rehabilitation, some inmates engaged in con games to make it look like they had "seen the light".
Contention 3: Rehabilitation is meaningless without a form of retribution
Sub-point A: If it seems difficult to see rehabilitation as a kind of punishment instead of an alternative to punishment, three considerations might help to make the point clear. First, there is, again, a distinction to be made between therapeutic rehabilitation that addresses pathology and aretaic rehabilitation that addresses flawed but otherwise healthy character for the purpose of inculcating virtue. Both kinds of rehabilitation are mandated in drug treatment court, which means that at least some of the programming mandated by such courts pertains to the justifying purpose of punishment. Second, there is a loss of freedom entailed in any mandated program of rehabilitation, therapeutic or aretaic that needs moral justification. In drug treatment court, this justification is provided by a criminal conviction. That is, mandated drug treatment is hardship imposed because of a violation of the criminal law's prohibitions. In other words, it is true punishment. Third, the schedule of graduated sanctions that is characteristic of these programs need not be seen as merely an instrumental adjunct, a goad, to therapeutic rehabilitation. Both in its own right and as a means of enforcing the program's aretaic rehabilitation, the schedule of sanctions constitutes hardship imposed because of a violation of criminal prohibitions. This too is true punishment.
Contention 4: Rehabilitation is not in the best interest of society
Sub-point A: The primary goal of our criminal justice system is to remove offenders from general society and protect law abiding citizens. Many criminals are repeat offenders and rehabilitation can be a long and expensive process. In Jamaica, police claim repeat offenders are responsible for over 80% of local crime despite rehabilitation programs in prisons. Ideally therefore, retribution and rehabilitation should work hand in hand to protect citizens in the short and long term. There are some successful examples of this happening, where prisons encourage inmates to take part in group activities such as football. Some prisons have started cooking programs where inmates learn to cook in a professional environment and leave with a qualification. However the first priority is the removal of the convicted criminal from society in order to protect the innocent. Rehabilitation should be a secondary concern. The primary concern of the criminal justice system should be the protection of the non-guilty parties. The needs of society are therefore met by the immediate removal of the offender.
Contention 5: Rehabilitation lacks morality
Sub-point A: Rehabilitative justifications for punishment have lost popular support since the 1970s in light of attacks on two fronts. While some argue that rehabilitation is fundamentally immoral, others claim it is too impractical. Retributivists, who cite the ancient "eye for an eye" maxim and believe that an offender should be punished only because she deserves to suffer as payment for her transgression, spearhead moral critiques of rehabilitation. By pampering criminals with therapy and education, Retributivists argue, we fail to exact the revenge justice demands. This injustice is most evident in the practice of individualized sentencing because it can lead to disparate punishment for the same crime and can excuse an offender from serving hard time. Such inequalities are patently unjust for the Retributivists. In response to this perceived unfairness, reformers successfully lobbied for punishment to be meted out in determinate and standardized sentences corresponding to the moral desert of offenders. This movement culminated in the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which remove most discretion from sentencing and have resulted in skyrocketing incarceration rates. Retributivists also find rehabilitation morally unjustifiable because it denies an offender"s responsibility for her actions by attributing her behavior to forces beyond her control, such as her sickness or circumstances. Rehabilitation thus treats the offender as if she is not ultimately accountable for her choices.
I"d like to start off by saying that I will first attack his (?) case and then will introduce my own in the second round.
His Contention 1A: There is nothing to attack here because no argument is present. This sub-point is a summary of how he defines vengeance and retribution.
Contention 1B: From what I understand is that in this contention you feel like the justice system isn"t able to rule punishment or retribution but your first point clearly states that "Retribution is the theory that the criminal deserves to be punished and deserves to be punished in proportion to the gravity of his or her own crime..." This is very contradicting, because punishment of proportions can"t just be ruled, someone has to rule it and that is why the justice system was put into place.
His Contention 2A: Not everyone is born bad, and people are only made bad. Your contention here is giving an example about how rehabilitation doesn"t work because "some inmates" [as per quoted by your exact text] thought it"d be smart to con everyone into thinking they were back on track. The thing is that unless they admitted to conning, we can"t be sure that they had seen the light and just ended up going back due to high pressures and standards they needed to meet. Sure we can say a poor man is more likely to steal, but there is no way to justify why a rich man would steal. Therefore there is no way you can justify that they were conning, lying, cheating, and not being rehabilitated, even for a short period of time. If you can provide evidence for this, I"ll let it slide.
Contention 3A: Rehabilitation and Retribution are completely different things [refer to definitions], and because you"re trying to say that retribution is an important factor in rehabilitation, you"re supporting my side of this debate. As I"d like to point out, the topic says "Rehabilitation ought to be valued above retribution". Key words: Ought to be valued above.
Contention 4A: ^.^ This is my favorite one. OK. So you see the part where you say that rehabilitation can be an "expensive process", I found some evidence saying, "It has been reported that it costs an average of $30,000 per year to house, feed, clothe and supervise a prisoner while rehabilitating these prisoners cost $10,000 less. Researchers had analyzed 108 rehabilitation outcome studies using a cost-benefit approach and they have demonstrated that on average, every dollar spent on rehabilitation services saves the taxpayers an additional $5 and the victim an additional $7." Therefore that"s invalid. You also used evidence from Jamaica, but the topic clearly states US and Jamaica isn"t a part of the US, so I won"t be taking this into account.
Contention 5A: Your entire point here is that "Rehabilitation thus treats the offender as if she is not ultimately accountable for her choices." I"d like to start off by pointing out that earlier you said that rehabilitation pampers criminals with therapy and education. Now why would they be going through therapy and education if they didn"t believe that it was their fault. As humans everyone feels and is accountable for their actions, even though some refuse to admit it. Also, just because rehabilitation MAY treat the offender as if she is not ultimately accountable, doesn"t mean they don"t feel as if they are.
Sorry for any errors and if something doesn't make sense, feel free to ask for clarification at any given time. I wrote this in a rush... :P
zachdebate727 forfeited this round.
SkaterGirl forfeited this round.
zachdebate727 forfeited this round.
SkaterGirl forfeited this round.
No votes have been placed for this debate.
You are not eligible to vote on this debate
This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. This debate either has an Elo score requirement or is to be voted on by a select panel of judges.