The Instigator
katiemay
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
NiqashMotawadi3
Con (against)
Winning
1 Points

Should a life sentence mean life for murderers?

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
NiqashMotawadi3
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/14/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,654 times Debate No: 35596
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (1)

 

katiemay

Pro

If a person is jailed for 'life' - because they murdered someone/a number of people - they should stay incarcerated, in some shape or form, for life not have their case re-opened and their sentence possibly shortened so then they're 'free' because of a matter of it being their 'human rights'. What human rights and freedom do the people they murdered have? And if it comes down to money the government is spending on keeping them in there - STOP MAKING IT A LIFE OF LUXURY FOR THEM. I don't think it should be stone building, rock hard beds and stone cold showers but stop giving them luxury items that makes prison stays so delightful.

There's only 49 people currently serving - in Britain - who have been given 'full life sentences' the majority when given 'life' only serve 14-ish years. Those given 'full life' are the worst of the worst. Forget their 'human rights' they gave that up when they stopped acting human

People say 'they should be let out if they psychological show that they've reformed' etc. How do you know he/she is safe? Can you really predict the actions of psychotic murder? Can a murderer ever be safe? I don't claim to have any expertise on criminology or psychology (I do study Psychology and Sociology though as a student), and I am aware that there systems in place whereby offenders can be evaluated. I just don't believe it's possible to be able to say that a person is stable enough to be set 'free' after committing such horrific offences.

In retrospect, I do not believe with the death penalty. It is neither acceptable to kill a human being in revenge (which is all capital punishment amounts to), nor is it a proper punishment for anything. Confining a person from society for life without killing them, or the possibility thereof, gives them hope. Without hope, there can be no real punishment, only release. Let's not let bloodthirst prevent true, lasting satisfaction on behalf of the victim's family. And let's not taint that satisfaction by having more human blood on people's hands.

More importantly, no good comes of capital punishment. A family's satisfaction at having revenge for their loved one is short-lived compared to the sorrow of having to still deal with the loss of that person. By the same token, the killer can never be examined, or perhaps even rehabilitated, by psychologists and therapy. You can argue that evil is subtracted from society, but this isn't zero sum. Good is not added to society by the killing of anyone.

In starting this debate, I'm more interested in seeing other people's views. I've had the same 'conversation' with my mum and a close friend - my mum agrees with me. That life should mean life for murderers; however, my close friend believes a psychological evaluation would do the trick. Hmm!

NiqashMotawadi3

Con

I thank my opponent for starting this interesting and controversial debate. I'm looking forward for a great exchange. I take the position that life sentences shouldn't be for life in certain situations, as opposed to my friend's position which states that they always should. That being said, I agree with her position on death sentences and I shall try to use this as common ground later in this round. Before I start arguing, I'm going to give a few definitions of important terms.


A- Definitions:

Life sentence: Any sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life.

Parole: The provisional release of a prisoner who agrees to certain conditions prior to the completion of the maximum sentence period.

Death sentence: A legal process whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime.

Prison: A correctional institution where persons are confined.

* I'm going to use "prisoners" sometimes to only refer to murderers who are imprisoned, given that this debate is focusing only on murderers.


B- My Position:

Here are the reasons why I think life sentences for murderers shouldn't always mean life.

B1- Giving life sentences diminishes any encouragement for the prisoners to rehabilitate and become better people, because they'll always be stuck in prison.

B2- A good number of paroled prisoners change into moral citizens.

B3- It is costly for the government to imprison prisoners for life—even without supplying luxuries.


B1- Giving life sentences diminishes any encouragement for the prisoners to rehabilitate and become better people, because they'll always be stuck in prison

Getting out early is important for prisoners who have families, who want to start anew or just loathe having their freedoms restricted. In case they were told that their life sentence meant life, such important drive for rehabilitation would be diminished. They will lose hope and not want to rehabilitate, which could mean that they might become more immoral, rebellious, depressed and hostile, or even stay immoral as they were when convicted.


B2- A good number of paroled prisoners change into moral citizens

Once a murderer, always a murderer? No. We have cases of many people who were released after a "life sentence," and haven't committed any murder due to their years of remorse and introspection. Examples are Kamini Balu Ingle, Paul Kripashankar, Prabhakar Gaikwad, Prashant Mande and many others. As a report published in 2009 indicates, they have not committed another murder after being released for several years, but tried their best to attain a better life and amend their relations with family members[1]. I even searched their names and did not find any new accusation or case against them. According to a Research by the Bureau of Justice Statistics which dealt with a large sample of prisoners(not just murderers) from three states, mostly prisoners who served for a few years due to drug offences, 24% of the prisoners never returned to the life of crime after their imprisonment[2]. This percentage is expected to be higher for convicted murderers who spend more years in prison and are exposed to more rehabilitation and assistance.

It is important to note that the prison is not just a place to have revenge from murderers. It is a correctional institution meant to reform and restrict harmful people from our societies.



B3- It is costly for the government to imprison prisoners for life—even without supplying luxuries.

The government(or the responsible authority) has to provide food, shelter, health-care, security, maintenance and many other things which are costly. Less money would be wasted if the government released some of the prisoners under some conditions(listed below). They only costs I can think of would be finding the prisoners a good-paying job and managing weekly checkups and counselling.


C- Conditions for Parole:

C1- Prisoner must be verified not to have psychopathy. This detection of psychopathy is not difficult[3], and it is usually deduced from the nature of the murders committed and other factors. This is a requirement because studies show that psychopathic murders are likely to commit the murder again[4].

C2- Prisoner must be provided a good-paying job after release, so that he has some income to start anew.

C3- Prisoner must have access to weekly checkups and counselling..


D- Refutation


D1- Major contradiction in my opponent's argument:

When arguing for life sentences, my opponent says about Britain's life-sentenced murderers "Forget their 'human rights' they gave that up when they stopped acting human." When arguing against capital sentences, my opponent says in defence of death-sentenced murderers, " I do not believe with the death penalty. It is neither acceptable to kill a human being in revenge... nor is it a proper punishment for anything." In the first statement, she denies the human rights of life-sentenced murderers, while in the second, she defends the right of life for death-sentenced murderers and treats them as humans. I ask my opponent to explain why only death-sentenced murderers deserve a recognition of their humans rights.

D2- Contention 1: I don't think it should be stone building, rock hard beds and stone cold showers but stop giving them luxury items that makes prison stays so delightful.

Since we're talking about prisoners with life sentences, my opponent is wrong in assuming that spending 15 to 40 years in a prison is a delightful experience. There are many prisoners who prefer death over it. For instance, Douglas Vinter, convicted of murder, says "I'm young and fit and I've maybe got another 50 years of life as a category A prisoner left. Torture every single day. I actually pray for a heart attack or cancer.[5]"

D3- Contention 2:
Forget their 'human rights' they gave that up when they stopped acting human

The prisoner remains a human and is treated as such. It is a moral principle to treat people as you want them to be, not according to what they were in the past. This helps them become better people. My opponent herself defends prisoner rights, which means that such a statement contradicts many other statements she made.

D4- Contention 3: I just don't believe it's possible to be able to say that a person is stable enough to be set 'free' after committing such horrific offences.

This is an argument from personal incredulity. Hence, a weak one. My opponent's personal belief is surely wrong given that I listed in B2 successful cases of people who committed horrific offences and yet became moral after being released.

D5- Contention 4: Confining a person from society for life without killing them, or the possibility thereof, gives them hope.

My opponent didn't offer any evidence for this assertion. B1 is a direct refutation of it, since it explains how people who know they're going to spend their whole life in prison become hopeless.


I await my opponent's reply.

[1] openthemagazine.com/article/nation/life-after-a-life-sentence
[2] Employment after Prison: A Longitudinal Study of Releasees in Three States, Urban Institute, October 2008.
[3] ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19290767
[4] Harris, Grant; Rice, Marnie (2006), "Treatment of psychopathy: A review of empirical findings", in Patrick, Christopher, Handbook of Psychopathy, pp. 555–572
[5] guardian.co.uk/law/2012/dec/05/whole-life-prison-sentence-human-rights

Debate Round No. 1
katiemay

Pro

I'd like to thank my opponent for not only accepting the debate but also putting forward a brilliant, well thought out argument against my view. However, in their opening paragraph, my opponent says 'I take the position that life sentences shouldn't be for life in certain situations' - could my opponent elaborate on what they meant with 'certain situations', please? Thank you.
I would also like to point out that my use of the word 'prisoners' refers to murderers.

Since posting my original 'argument' for life sentences, I would like to point out that I am talking about those prisoners who have committed such horrific offences i.e serial killers and also those such as Ian McLoughlin, aged 55 [1] (I shall expand more on his story later on, to back up with other points) therefore, in reply to my opponents first point 'B1' I reply:
If prisoners (referring to those murderers) have been given the chance to have rehabilitation and become better people, yet disregard this and still act in a inhuman way, how many times should they be given the chance to rehabilitate if they continue to ignore their 'second chances'?

B2 - There are also cases which have shown that around 30 of released prisoners between 2000/1 and 2010/11 killed again after being released from prison. From a report published on the BBC News website on the 19 January 2012, the Home Office has shown that 29 people with homicide convictions later went on to commit murder - of those 29 murderers, 13 previously committed murder and 16 previously manslaughter. Also, the report says that one prisoner even killed again whilst in prison for committing murder. [2] Another case, that of William Spengler,in a report published on January 2, 2013 highlights the fact that he spent 17 years in prison for the murder of his grandmother, after a few years of parole he turned to murder yet again - killing two volunteer firefighters and wounding a further two. [3]

Whilst I agree with my opponents point: 'it is important to note that the prison is not just a place to have revenge from murderers. It is a correctional institution meant to reform and restrict harmful people from our societies.' I think it also goes to show that prison is also a place intended to keep members of the public safe from psychological unstable people who cannot/are unable to reform even after been given rehabilitation.

B3 - Whilst I agree with my opponents comment about the authority paying for essentials for prisoners, prisoners are being supplied with games consoles costing thousands out of tax payers money. It has been shown that The Prison Service (up to 2008) had spent over £200,000 on PlayStation, Nintendo and Xbox consoles and software to keep prisoners entertained. A
n audit carried out last month on Justice Secretary Jack Straw’s orders turned up 12,948 game consoles in prisons and young-offender institutions in England and Wales. Yes, spend money on their essentials, but spending thousands of pounds of tax payers money on things like games consoles to keep them entertained. Tory MP, Nigel Evans said: ‘Does being sent down for five years of hard PlayStation playing serve as rehabilitation or punishment. This is rewarding criminal behaviour with equipment...' [4]

Conditions for Parole


C1- are there ways that murderers can manipulate doctors into thinking they are psychologically sane enough to be trusted to be paroled? Despite having advanced technology in which we are able to predict and discover things like this, we are still limited as we do not have a complete understanding/complete capabilities to see how a person is actually thinking. Can prisoners put on an act? I refer back to the cases of Ian McLoughlin and William Spengler, surely they must have had to have gone through some form of psychopathy testing to make sure that they were stable enough to be let out on parole; however, both men went on to kill again.

C2 - there is a distinct lack of jobs for people around the world, so how can the authority in charge promise a job for prisoners? We surely cannot just go 'no, you can't have that job this prisoner needs this job so he can start a new life' therefore my point is: due to being unable to promise a job, are prisoners being let out without any of those foundations to help them and does this create problems.

C3 - most prisoners have excess to counselling and check ups, therefore I have no need to expand on this point.

D

D1 - when stating that 'human rights' should be forgotten: there have been cases recently where prisoners argue that they do not have enough human rights and that it is against their human rights to be kept in prison. I do not agree that they should have cases reviewed just because of this point. I do not defend murderers; however, I do not believe in the killing of any persons or animals for revenge (in the case of animals it is different usually for fur etc.) and I do not believe that death-sentences should be used because it is the killing of a living being despite what crimes they have committed. I am not acknowledging their human rights, I still believe that any murderer should have limited human rights due to their acts, it is just my personal opinion that no living being should be killed under any circumstances.

D2 - I'm not assuming that prison is a delightful experience. You hear of prisoners being beaten up, stabbed etc. whilst in prison and often they are confined to a limited area. Referring back to my point of all the money spent on luxuries for these prisoners - why should the tax payer have to pay for some prisoners items? I believe money is being wasted on trying to entertain them [5]

D3 - my point for human rights was based on the fact of prisoners using this as a leverage to have their cases re-opened and as a start to being freed. I do not believe that human rights should be the reason why this should be done.

D4 - see my argument for C1. I do not let personal beliefs get in the way of 'arguments' when I say things such as 'I believe' it is referred to the whole argument i.e I am for life sentences to mean life sentences, it does not mean that my view is from an emotional point of view which clouds my judgement. A personal belief/point of opinion cannot be 'wrong' as long as you have points to back up the argument.

D5 - giving a prisoner hope of release surely gives them a harsher punishment, as they'll be waiting and hoping for the day they get released. Although this does not directly link to my point, nor my argument, but there are charities who help prisoners have a sense of hope etc. so that they reform. [6]

I wait for my opponents next reply.


[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk...

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk...

[3] http://www.theintelligencer.net...

[4] http://www.dailymail.co.uk...

[5] http://www.telegraph.co.uk...

[6] http://www.hopeforprisoners.org...
NiqashMotawadi3

Con

I thank my opponent for her response..

To win the debate, my opponent has to prove that a life sentence should mean life in all situations and circumstances. She has not done this so far.

I only have to be able to describe one situation or circumstance in which a prisoner is sentenced for life but deserves to be released. These are the conditions I listed for this hypothetical situation.



C1- Prisoner must be verified not to have psychopathy.

C2- Prisoner must be provided a good-paying job after release, so that he has some income to start anew.

C3- Prisoner must have access to weekly checkups and counselling. (After being released)


C1- Prisoner must be verified not to have psychopathy.

Psychopaths can easily pass the good conduct standards, and then commit a crime after they are released[1]. The first method to determine psychopathy is the inspection of the murder the prisoner was convicted with. For instance, the prisoner is most definitely a psychopath if he killed his two daughters for no reason. However, in some cases, the murder's initiatives are not so clear, so in the citation I offered in the previous round[2], I linked to a very effective method, the "Thin Slices" method, which helps us detect psychopathy. It is found in a research paper on Pubmed.gov called Detecting psychopathy from thin slices of behaviour. Here is the abstract of the research paper:

"This study is the first to demonstrate that features of psychopathy can be reliably and validly detected by lay raters from "thin slices" (i.e., small samples) of behavior.... These findings demonstrate that first impressions of psychopathy and related constructs, particularly those pertaining to interpersonal functioning, can be reasonably reliable and valid. They also raise intriguing questions regarding how individuals form first impressions and about the extent to which first impressions may influence the assessment of personality disorders."

This proves that we can effectively detect psychopathy. However, such a method is not that common in prisons, which is why many psychopaths are released. Hence, my condition is to apply this method to check whether prisoners suffer from psychopathy or not. My opponent in her objection to this condition refers to Ian McLoughlin and William Spengler. However, she did not provide any evidence that any of them were examined by the thin slices method, as opposed to the usual "release because of good conduct."

C2- Prisoner must be provided a good-paying job after release, so that he has some income to start anew.

Pro argues, "there is a distinct lack of jobs for people around the world, so how can the authority in charge promise a job for prisoners?" The answer to this is to give them governmental duties or jobs such as in construction sites. The importance of this is to ensure that the prisoners can start a new beginning and not return to their past lives. According to the Longitudinal study of release in three states, "The more wages earned two months after release, the lower a respondent’s likelihood of reincarceration. Predicted probabilities of reincarceration were 8 percent for those earning more than $10 per hour; 12 percent for those earning $7 to $10 per hour; and 16 percent for those earning less than $7 per hour—compared with 23 percent for those who were unemployed."[3]

C3- Prisoner must have access to weekly checkups and counselling.


My opponent seems to have misunderstood this point. I meant this should be done after the prisoners are released.


A prisoner can meet those three conditions and still commit murder for another time, but that is a chance we are willing to take instead of confining many moral people who have learned from their mistakes and are planning to start a new pleasant life. In other words, I argue that it is morally justified to take such a risk, than to confine prisoners who would be moral citizens if released. I have also provided many arguments in favour of my position:



B1- Giving life sentences diminishes any encouragement for the prisoners to rehabilitate and become better people, because they'll always be stuck in prison.

B2- A good number of paroled prisoners change into moral citizens.

B3- It is costly for the government to imprison prisoners for life—even without supplying luxuries.



B1- Giving life sentences diminishes any encouragement for the prisoners to rehabilitate and become better people, because they'll always be stuck in prison.

My opponent responds, "giving a prisoner hope of release surely gives them a harsher punishment, as they'll be waiting and hoping for the day they get released." I gave a citation of Douglas Vinter wishing he would die from a heart attack than to be imprisoned for life[4]. I expect my opponent to provide a citation of convicted prisoner saying something like "I have 6 years left, this is so horrible. I wish was convicted for life." Nonetheless, I'm sure my opponent cannot provide such a citation, because the light in the end of the tunnel gives hope to the person trying to get out, as opposed to having total darkness waiting ahead. My opponent asks about giving prisoners second chances. I'm not against it. Some people do learn from second chances, though I would ask for more screenings and tests for that prisoner to get a parole, and evidence that he is in a better moral state than the last time when he was released.

B2- A good number of paroled prisoners change into moral citizens.

My opponent did not respond to that point in particular, but listed prisoners who committed crimes again after being released. I shall remind her that she has not proved that those prisoners were released according to the "thin slices" method. In addition to this, my opponent listed some well-known psychopaths as counter examples, even when that again contradicts with the condition: "Prisoner must be verified not to have psychopathy."

B3- It is costly for the government to imprison prisoners for life—even without supplying luxuries.


My opponent's objection to this was on the fact that many money is spent on the prisoner's luxuries in some prisoners. This is a non-sequitur logical fallacy, given that the objection has nothing to do with the claim itself. I never argued that prisoners in some prisons are not given too many luxuries. I only said that such luxuries do not make life-imprisonment such a delightful experience, and my opponent agreed with me on that. I still haven't got any objections on the fact that is too costly for the government to imprison prisoners for life. In the US alone, about 132,000 prisoners are serving life sentences[5].


I shall conclude with an example of a life-sentenced prisoner who was paroled and is now living a peaceful and pleasant life. This is one of the many prisoners I listed previously, and surely one of many who were released and never returned to their life of crime. If my opponent's position was to be supported, this prisoner would be stuck in prison even though she has been rehabilitated. Here are the words of Kamini Balu Ingle (24 when jailed, 41 when released):

"My parents and children cried a lot when they met me, but I cried more than them. The best thing now is being with my family. Especially that despite having served a jail sentence, my husband is with me. He has married again, but so what? We all live together. I am so lucky that I have got my life back after coming out of jail. Not everyone gets that. If something breaks, then it is very difficult to join it again."[6]

[1] news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7833672.stm
[2] ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19290767
[3] Employment after Prison: A Longitudinal Study of Releasees in Three States, Urban Institute, October 2008.
[4] guardian.co.uk/law/2012/dec/05/whole-life-prison-sentence-human-rights
[5] nytimes.com/2005/10/02/national/02life.web.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1&sq=To%20More%20Inmates,%20Life%20Term%20Means%20Dying%20Behind%20Bars&scp=1&oref=slogin&
[6] openthemagazine.com/article/nation/life-after-a-life-sentence

Debate Round No. 2
katiemay

Pro

katiemay forfeited this round.
NiqashMotawadi3

Con

I'm not sure why my opponent forfeited a debate she started. I extend my points.
Debate Round No. 3
katiemay

Pro

katiemay forfeited this round.
NiqashMotawadi3

Con

I thank everyone who read this debate.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 4 years ago
wrichcirw
katiemayNiqashMotawadi3Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: ff