Should the juvenile criminal justice system focus on rehabilitation, punishment, or both?
Debate Rounds (5)
Good luck to my opponent.
First I will address the Pro and Con positions regarding the purpose of the juvenile criminal justice system, as there is not a clear Yes/No question being asked. The Pro side of the argument supports what is probably the most commonly held position; that since there is still a lot of potential left for the criminal party they should be rehabilitated and brought back into society. As the Con side I will negate the position that rehabilitation should be the focused on aspect of the juvenile criminal justice system. The main component of my argument will be comprised of various ethical justifications for the Con position.
To begin, it is necessary to see what the Pro's chosen ethical venue has to say about rehabilitation.
A moral absolutist would probably find that they feel more comfortable aligning themselves with the Pro argument. This is largely because the majority of moral absolutists ascribe to either Divine Command Theory or Consequentialism. The Pro side chose to focus primarily on a Consequentialist point of view, but there are definite flaws in this method of thinking. To see why this is so, let's look to the Pro argument.
"I think the biggest reason why this would work better than punishment is because, when people are punished they are just locked up and told that they were wrong, but not why they were wrong, and I feel that with rehabilitation the kids would be told exactly why what they did was considered crime, they would also be taught who it affects, how it affects them, why it affects them that way, and a bunch of other things of this nature that would shape their minds to think about other people before they did things."
Obviously the Pro believes that the consequences of rehabilitation, in this case re-entering society, are absolutely good. In fact, because of their criminal record and deficit in education, juvenile delinquents, even those who have been reformed, will find extreme difficulty becoming productive members of society. Peter Wright (1) states that on average "[juvenile delinquents] were 6 years behind their peers." This deficit in learning will force society to cater to the needs of the severely handicapped criminal offenders, who because of their age are considered to be delinquents instead of criminals. Assuming that juvenile delinquents did indeed move on from their troubled past, society would actually have to pick up the tab for them, and so they wouldn't be productive at all, they would simply continue to be a drain on public funds.
So what can the alternative to rehabilitation do to address this problem? Deterring juveniles is incredibly more effective when the severity of punishment is simply shown to those at risk of becoming delinquents (2). Maintaining an atmosphere of fear is necessary to deter criminals, especially youth, and so it is necessary to avoid promoting rehabilitation. When criminals see that there is an easy way out they are more likely to commit criminal actions. It's rather obvious, then, that even under a Consequentialist ethical framework punishment should be the more ethical course of action.
There are several points I want to address later in the debate, but due to time constraints I was only able to present a few arguments. This is my first debate on this site, and so if everyone can just bear with me, I think I'll get the hang of things pretty soon.
1. Wright, Peter W.D. "Reading Problems and Delinquency." Juvenile Justice. 1974. Web. http://www.wrightslaw.com...
2. Petrosino A, Turpin-Petrosino C, Buehler J. "Scared Straight" and other juvenile awareness programs for preventing juvenile delinquency. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2002, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD002796. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002796. http://www2.cochrane.org....
In my first statement I did not make myself incredibly clear and I apologize for this. First, I would like to mention that there would be classes taken to educate the offender, normal high school courses so that the offender could pick up wherever it was that they left off, this would cover their high school education, assuring that they had the knowledge of anyone else in society that has been productive. This education would be required for graduation from the rehabilitation program that they were entered into. Also, I would like to re-state that I still feel this would benefit the juveniles more.
As for the Scare tactic, I feel that attempting to scare juveniles into being good isn't going to work, only for those who are easily intimidated which aren't that many anymore. The new generation has become much braver,and presenting them with punishments that will happen if they are to get in trouble is only teaching them to be sneaky and find ways around getting into trouble with whatever it is they are doing. In this sense rehabilitation will take their learning experience to rock bottom, it will start at whatever level of education they are on, finish the education, then teach skills for getting work on the outside, as well as teaching them why crimes are crimes, as I stated earlier, and then it will teach them other skills which would be used to become a productive citizen.
Having said this, I look forward to your next response, if I cannot extend the time I will start another debate. Hopefully everything will work well with continuing this one.
First to address the issue of education. The problem is not that juvenile delinquents simply go uneducated for the duration of their imprisonment, it's that juvenile delinquents were already behind the average (which is pretty low in the US) by 6 years. So even if they received a full high school education during their imprisonment, they would still be 6 years behind. Trying to address this problem by bringing in learning disability specialists would dramatically increase the public debt that each of the delinquents creates. Not only would it cause a direct increase in spending, it would also harm the population at large.
A great example of this situation can be seen in the broken window paradox. In it, a person breaks the window of a store and explains that their action was actually beneficial to the economy because by breaking the window they created a demand for windows. Yet it is plainly apparent that going around and breaking everyone's window would not help the economy. Why? It's because the window breaker ignores the opportunity cost; in other words he ignores what the storeowner could have spent his money on had his window not been broken. In the context of juvenile delinquents, we see that forcing specialists to work with an already behind population of criminals forces us to lose the opportunity cost of them educating the up and coming workforce; a severe harm that ultimately causes the average level of education to drop.
Now on to the issue of punishment providing a deterrent. I would submit that the reason that youth feel much more "brave" today is actually due to their knowledge of what punishment entails. From my own experience I see that people treat crimes as relatively minor affairs because they can go on diversion, or simply pay some legal fees and get off. When people avoid crimes is when they face actual punishment, like when they are on probation or when the record of their next action cannot be expunged. Delinquents are particularly subject to this behavior, as there are severe punishments presented alongside an almost equally obtainable program of rehabilitation. The answer is relatively easy, when a criminal is faced with punishment or rehabilitation they will almost universally choose rehabilitation. In the past we did not have nearly as many options for rehabilitation, and being a criminal essentially ruined the rest of your life. During this time juveniles acted much less frequently in defiance of the law; not because they ere reformed by the system, but because they feared the punishments that might rain down on them if they disobeyed.
DeUcEs forfeited this round.
VladimirPutin forfeited this round.
Now, my issue with what you said. Even if being punished would completely ruin someones life, which in a lot of cases it still does. If your convicted of a felony you can hardly find a job anymore, even with a lot of misdemeanors, it still doesn't even phase these people. And then, to top that off, once their life is ruined they take that as free pass to do as much as they possibly can before the time comes when they are caught, it causes chaos. In my solution I see it working this way. You rehabilitate everyone one time. It doesn't work for some. You take the few it doesn't work for and you institutionalize them, those are obviously the ones that are opposed to following the law, even with a proper education on how to make it in the civilized world.
When all is said and done you will have a clump of people who are institutionalized, those like I mentioned earlier that are continuing to break the law, a clump that is going through rehabilitation, those who are being introduced to the justice system, and those who do not commit crimes, or have not yet been caught for it yet. Now that you have your three groups, you focus on those in institutions first. Re-offenders from institutions remain institutionalized, those who are in for the first time are released on their scheduled date, if they re-offend they go back and don't get out again, they have failed to learn their lesson from two different points of view now, you look at those in rehabilitation centers, let them talk to inmates that have the rest of their lives in institutions because they failed to learn. You teach them all they need to know, this now incorporates the fear factor into the solution. You release them when they have completed their schooling and obligations. If they re-offend stick them in an institution for a couple years and release them, and continue to repeat the process. I don't know about anyone other than myself but I feel this would truly work.
Thank you for your last post and I apologize about the missed round. Its been fun.
Taken as a whole, the population of juvenile delinquents that end up being incarcerated is a largely cyclical one. When punishments are relaxed and rehabilitation given the emphasis (both in funding and purpose), then the amount of at-risk delinquents increases. To address the concerns of a populace that sees a lot of at-risk youths, punishment is increased to serve as a deterrent. This brings in a whole population of previously at-risk youths, but it is almost always successful in deterring people from committing the crimes that put them at-risk. The fundamental problem is one of public perception. There are people on either side who can solve the problem according to their view of a solution, but in terms of actually lessening crime, a deterrent through punishment should be preferred.
Rehabilitation is a massive undertaking that ignores or can't solve the root causes of delinquency. Neither can punishment, but punishment does have a strong deterrent effect. Preventing crime is what the justice system is designed to do. To expect it to address the societal ills that lead to crime is overextending it. Legislative bodies are much better suited to accomplishing the sort of things you would like to see; executive authorities, especially those that deal with law and order, are simply not suited to fixing problems that aren't laid bare before them.
VladimirPutin forfeited this round.
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Vote Placed by DeUcEs 6 years ago
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