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Rehabilitation ought to be valued over retribution in the United States criminal justice system.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/5/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,179 times Debate No: 28919
Debate Rounds (2)
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Resolved: Rehabilitation ought to be valued over retribution in the United States criminal justice system. I affirm (agree.)
I define "ought" from Farlex Law dictionary as "used to indicate a desirable state."

Argument 1: Rehabilitation reduces recidivism, and incarceration increases recidivism. Also, rehab is more cost-effective.
For the first time ever, more than one in every 100 US adults are in jail. 63 percent of prisoners released in year are re-arrested within three years. Most alarming of all is the fact that the US has only 5% of world"s population, but has 25% of the world"s inmates. 47 percent were convicted of a new crime. We need to use rehabilitation to reduce these high rates.

a. Warren of the Justice department found, quote, "There is an enormous body of sophisticated research finding that, unlike incarceration, which actually increases recidivism, rehabilitation can significantly reduce offender recidivism. Such programs are more effective, and more cost-effective, than incarceration in reducing crime rates." endquote.

We can see through extensive research that rehabilitation reduces recidivism, and that incarceration is counter-productive in our society; it increases recidivism!

b. U.S. Department of Justice"s The National Institute of Justice finds that "Rehabilitation programs for adult and juvenile offenders using treatments appropriate to their risk factors reduces their repeat offending rates."

c. Furthermore, Professor DiLulio of Princeton says quote "numerous studies refute the once-fashionable idea that "nothing works" in the rehabilitation of criminals, show that, other things being equal, offenders who participate in certain types of institutional or community-based treatment programs are less likely to be repeat offenders than the nonparticipants." I have given three very credible sources proving that rehab does in fact reduce recidivism. This is impactful in the round because we will have a safer society and lower crime rates if we value rehabilitation over retribution, therefore helping our society through reducing recidivism.

Argument 2: Rehabilitation would save taxpayers 2.6 Billion dollars.
In a Justice Department report, it says that we will save 2.6 billion dollars if we expand our current rehab programs to serve 40% of the remaining eligible population. It says that, even if we continue funding at the same levels while expanding programs, we'll still save 1 billion dollars!


Rehabilitation just doesn't work. Most of the time, the people who do bad things are just bad people. Sure, go ahead and try, but there's a reason most offenders are repeat offenders when it comes to crimes like drugs, violence, theft, ect. It's because they don't see what they are doing as wrong, and never will. We need harsher penalties and longer sentences, not rehabilitation. that's the only way to prevent crime.

The only thing that can truly rehabilitate someone is God. Not other human beings.
Debate Round No. 1


First of all, my opponent gives no evidence on why we should believe her. I gave 4 pieces of evidence from extremely credible sources supporting rehabilitation and refuting retribution (incarceration). Should we believe that "rehabilitation just doesn't work" just because she says so? My opponent advocates for increased incarceration. However, I already showed that increased incarceration leads to higher recidivism. I'll back that up with more evidence. But first, allow me to defend rehab:

a. MacKenzie of the Justice Department: "there is evidence that Rehabilitation is effective in reducing the criminal behavior of at least some offenders."
b. A report from California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) shows a substantial reduction in recidivism for offenders completing in-prison substance abuse programs followed by community-based substance abuse treatment. The return to custody rate after two years for offenders completing both in-prison and community-based treatment in Fiscal Year 2005-06 was 35.3 percent compared to 54.2 percent for all offenders." endquote. This is a 20 point reduction!
c. Dan Feldman is chairman of the New York State Assembly Corrections Committee: "In addition to facing the stark reality of our mistaken reliance on longer sentences as a deterrent, we also need to acknowledge that the kind of treatment criminals receive from the state can affect their subsequent conduct. In other words, some rehabilitation programs - inside and outside of prison walls - do work. The so-called wildcat employment program has placed ex-offenders in jobs as security guards at a major metropolitan college, whose president says their record of integrity over the past several years stands up well in comparison with any other security force. The Kennedy School of Government at Harvard says the recidivism rate for ex-offenders in the wildcat program within a year after release is 1 percent, not the usual 20 percent."
d. The most credible research (done by a technique called meta-analysis) shows that the net effect of treatment is, on average, a positive reduction of overall recidivism, or re-offending, rates of between 10% and 12%, which would promote a reduction in crime .The 2009 Annual Report of the Office of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (OSATS), formerly the Division of Addiction and Recovery Services, includes return-to-custody data on offenders who paroled in Fiscal Year 2005-06 for a one-year and a two-year period. The return to custody rate after one year for offenders completing both in-prison and community-based treatment in FY 2005-06 was 21.9 percent compared to 39.9 percent for all offenders. The return to custody rate after two years for offenders completing both in-prison and community-based treatment in FY 2005-06 was 35.3 percent compared to 54.2 percent for all offenders. (20 point reduction!)

Now I'll move on to attack my opponent's claim that increased incarceration reduces recidivism:
a. Dan Feldman is chairman of the New York State Assembly Corrections Committee: "In New York, and many other states, these 'tough' policies have produced a combination of large-scale prison overcrowding without meaningful reductions in our crime rate. It is time to admit that the dominant anticrime policies of the 1970's and 1980's have created a fiscal and programmatic time bomb. After years of increased sentences, and an extraordinary drain on our state's treasury, we need to acknowledge that longer sentences do not deter most crime.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."
b. Pritikin of Harvard Law says quote: "Punishment"at least as it is realized in modern-day America, through the pervasive utilization of incarceration"may be causing more crime than it is preventing. A plethora of potentially criminogenic effects of incarceration have been identified."

Again, my opponent has given no evidence whatsoever to support any of her claims. She has only defended retribution and attacked rehab with her own words, not with those of anyone with qualifications. I gave 8 credible quotes proving that rehab reduces recidivism, and I also gave 2 credible quotes proving that retribution, or incarceration, leads to more recidivism.

Thank you and I urge and AFFIRMATIVE vote.


Eve13 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
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