The Instigator
Normerican
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
DavidHudson
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Should Prisons Focus on Rehabilitation?

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 0 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/24/2015 Category: Society
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 453 times Debate No: 72234
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (0)
Votes (0)

 

Normerican

Pro

The question is: Should prisons in the United States focus on Rehabilitation rather than Punishment?

I for one, agree.

The person who accepts the debate will disagree.

Round 1:
Tells about the debate and person accepts debate.
Round 2:
Opening Arguments
Round 3:
Rebuttals
Round 4:
More Rebuttals
Round 5:
Closing Arguments.
DavidHudson

Con

I accept this argument, and take the position that the primary purpose of prisons is to provide a means of punishment for crime.
Debate Round No. 1
Normerican

Pro

Rehabilitation is the modern way to do things. We don't live in a world where the Code of Hamurabi should be what we base our morals on. An eye for an eye is a barbaric ancient method of punishment that gets people to even farther back from where they started. As you read this argument, I'll go through my points on why rehabilitation should be practiced.

Pros:
1. We are in a modern age where rehabilitation fits the time period.

You don't create new technologies, medical equipment, transportation methods, and new psychological advancement where everything is done off of morals and science, and just leave the prison system at barbaric conditions.

Rehabilitation is the best, way to fit with the times. As new innovations in architecture come, a new style of punishment should fit these modern designs. Rehabilitation is not a new concept, but it's a unique, outside of the box concept that has a good chance of working.

2. Crime rate is at an all time low in countries such as Norway where they practice rehabilitation.

Some of the countries that practice rehabilitation, considerably Scandinavian countries, the crime is at an all time low.
Offenders of a crime, are less likely to become repeat offenders 7 fold.

3. This is safer

You are a lot safer in a rehabilitation prison, you don't have to worry about being beaten or tortured, because the gaurds know what they're doing and know how to help people.

4. They are still being punished.

They are being taken away privileges that would potentially cause them to cause damage or break the law again. See, punishment is based on trust, the prisoners in a rehabilitation prison would probably not be trusted. There's a good chance they wouldn't be able to be left alone, and rehabilitation works on building trust so you can become a better person. We are human, we make mistakes, we have consequences, but those consequences should come with a lesson rather than aimlessly sending someone to a place where they can get killed or raped because they smoked a little weed.

5. Offenders plead guilty more often in Scandinavian countries.

Since a lot of prisons in Scandinavia base there things of rehabilitation, it allows people to not want to go to prison, but willingly give themselves in if it means they can become better people...

6. They get punished based on what crime they committed

In this places, you are not going to be paired up with someone who raped three kids because you drunk drove...The worse the crime, the less privileges you get, and you get punished for what they think is a privileges that allows you to commit another crime.
DavidHudson

Con

Rehabilitation of criminals certainly has its place in society, and prisons may be one of the good places to ensure this takes place (though not the only such place). There is nothing wrong with allowing some free education for those in prison (and the internet certainly allows for plenty of free education without cost to the taxpayer), as long as it be recognised that this isn't the reason they are there; the primary purpose of prisons is to ensure that crimes are appropriately punished, and that the population know that this will happen.

It must be said that this does not happen effectively now. To argue for prisons being used as punishment is not necessarily to argue for waiting for a person to commit rape or murder, and then taking them to prison for twenty years. If we look back to how prisons were used a hundred years ago, a prison sentence would not usually be more than a month, a week was quite common, and a person could be put in prison for crimes such as drunkenness or fighting. By being punished for these minor crimes, a person came to respect the law long before they could progress to more serious crimes, long before they would ever have any need of rehabilitation.

Compare that to now, when a person who gets into a public brawl, even if caught by the police, will generally be released without any sentence. Since they receive no punishment, they see no reason not to do it again, and over time to practise violence more and more, until they commit some major crime like stabbing someone who looked at them in some way that displeased them. They finally go to prison, and if the prison system is able to prevent them from reoffending, it congratulates itself on its policy of rehabilitation. But if that person had just been punished with a month in prison the first time he had been caught fighting someone, he probably would not done it again, and neither his rehabilitation nor the innocent person's injury would ever have been necessary.

Crime statistics are not consistent over time since the methods of recording them constantly change, even from year to year very often as new politicians seek to fiddle figures in accordance with what they want the statistics to show. So the only thing I know for sure about different ways of dealing with crime is how they have affected society. Any older person can tell you that within living memory, it was less common for doors to be locked, and less common to hear of crime happening, and people didn't worry about not seeing their children for a while. Whether worsening conditions are a result of less effective ways of dealing with crime or the fact that many people around that time came back from world wars traumatised and less emotionally healthy, it's hard to determine (and it's probably a combination), but I doubt a lack of punishment for crimes could have helped.
Something quite analogous, perhaps the closest thing to an experiment, and within more people's living memory, is the replacement of punishment with nurturing for badly-behaved children in schools. Anyone old enough to remember corporal punishment in schools can tell that this replacement has not improved behaviour in schools. In fact, it has had the opposite effect. This is in an environment where preparation for the outside world (not so much rehabilitation, as just 'habilitation') actually is the primary purpose, and even here, punishment for wrong actions has proved to be vital, otherwise wrong actions in some individuals increase without any observable limits, causing increasingly bad consequences to those around them. How much more so must it be the case in a prison, a place where people have only come because of their wrong actions?
Debate Round No. 2
Normerican

Pro

Normerican forfeited this round.
DavidHudson

Con

I will reply to your arguments in the order you gave them.

"1. We are in a modern age where rehabilitation fits the time period."
Calling rehabilitation "the modern way to do things" does not make it right, and calling punishment "ancient" does not make it wrong. You list our modern achievements as being "done off of morals and science", but while our science has certainly advanced, it's begging the question to say that our morals have. It's increasing knowledge that drives all these discoveries, but knowledge doesn't necessarily correlate with morality. Some very intelligent and knowledgeable people only use their knowledge to plan crime. Whether our age is any more moral than previous ages (or less so) can't be assumed. And just because a concept is old does not mean it should be discarded. One could argue that a concept's being old merely shows it is tried and tested and has stood the test of time.

"2. Crime rate is at an all time low in countries such as Norway where they practice rehabilitation."
Firstly, the crime rate is at an all time low anywhere those in charge of crime statistics wish the statistics to be at an all time low. All it takes is to record less crime. Here in Britain, and I suspect in Norway as well, I'm sure you could more than double the crime rate overnight just by recording all the instances of underage kids having sex for example (a crime under section 13 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003). That's just an example of one of the most obvious ways crime figures don't really reflect the amount of crime. There are lots of others, which mean you can't really draw conclusions from the different crime figures - they tell you far more about how crime is reported in different countries than about the amounts of actual crime.
Secondly, crime is a complex subject which depends on many things, and even if we did know exactly how much was going on, we can't so easily track it down to a single cause, such as the prison system, on the basis of looking at one country. To give an example of what complex factors affect crime, the book 'Freakonomics' gives an interesting example of how a new police system was given credit for a drop in crime, when the drop in crime, when studied in more depth, actually turned out to be traceable to the increasing availability of contraception a few decades earlier, which led to less unwanted children who grew up to be delinquents.
You say: "Offenders of a crime, are less likely to become repeat offenders 7 fold." But less likely than what? Certainly the question of comparison is important - I highly doubt they are less likely to be repeat offenders than those subjected to the death penalty. But I don't think reoffending rates can be the sole measure of success - I would say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; hypothetically, if a system is enough of a deterrent that only 1% commit serious crimes and 50% of those reoffend, I think that's still better than a system under which 10% commit serious crimes and only 10% of those reoffend.

"3. ... You are a lot safer in a rehabilitation prison, you don't have to worry about being beaten or tortured, because the gaurds (sic) know what they're doing and know how to help people."
That cannot be assumed to be a difference between the two methodologies. Guards in any type of prison should know how to do their job. How much they will really know about keeping prisoners safe will probably be less a question of the prison ideals than of how well qualified they are, which will depend on how well funded the prison system is.

"4. They are still being punished."
I wouldn't disagree with that in general, the question is one of how much and when. It's similar to the problem of people living on benefits, being asked to get a job, and saying that they couldn't earn enough money to live in the house that they currently live in on benefits - the governments inadvertently incentivises them not to work. Now you or I may not like living around a bunch of criminals, but for another hardened criminal that's no great hardship. They're his friends. And where in the outside world will he be able to not worry about paying the rent, not worry about earning enough to buy food or pay bills, and just hang around watching TV and playing snooker etc. with his friends? In short, is prison actually a punishment for him, or an easy place to live? Is it surprising that some reoffend for the stated reason of getting back into prison? Can we really say that prison is a punishment for everybody?
"We are human, we make mistakes, we have consequences, but those consequences should come with a lesson rather than aimlessly sending someone to a place where they can get killed or raped because they smoked a little weed."
Yes, mistakes should come with a lesson - and the lesson is that if you do bad deeds you will be punished. Ideally, people should start receiving that lesson early, being put in cells for a day or so when they start littering, or hurting other kids at school, and they will be less likely to move on to worse things.
I've never heard of someone being sent to prison for smoking weed, though would be in favour of it for the reasons in the previous paragraph. But it would be silly to put such a person in among murderers and rapists. I would certainly hope any prison system in the world, whatever it's ideals, is sensible enough to separate people according to the seriousness of their crimes.

"5. Offenders plead guilty more often in Scandinavian countries."
I suspect they would plead guilty even more often if the prisons were idyllic leisure facilities - and this would probably also cause more crimes to be committed. To produce more guilty pleas does not necessarily show the rightness of a justice system.

"6. They get punished based on what crime they committed"
One would hope this is true of any justice system. You spoke disparagingly of 'an eye for an eye', but that's punishing people based on what crime they committed too.
Debate Round No. 3
Normerican

Pro

Normerican forfeited this round.
DavidHudson

Con

DavidHudson forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
Normerican

Pro

Normerican forfeited this round.
DavidHudson

Con

DavidHudson forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
No votes have been placed for this debate.