The Instigator
scholar1
Pro (for)
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The Contender
antonellaa
Con (against)
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Should we continue the practice of solitary confinement in the United States criminal justice system

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/19/2015 Category: Education
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 438 times Debate No: 68549
Debate Rounds (4)
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scholar1

Pro

1. Solitary confinement is the isolation of a prisoner in a separate cell as a punishment in jail and prison.

2. Solitary confinement cause prisoners severe mental harm and places them at risk of even more devastating psychological harm in the future.

3. Craig Haney, a psychologist at UC, has estimated that a third of the population in solitary confinement are made up of mentally ill people.

4. The correctional system job is to rehabilitate their population in a way that they can be less of a social burden to society.

5. The system is breaking the people"s psychological state and are having enough funds to fix them in a way society can see them as able to join the free population.

6. Sociality is the tendency of groups and persons to develop social links and live in communities.

8. People that were in solitary confinement associate more with people that faced solitary confinement.

7. Would you want to be in solitary confinement where only a bed, shower, and a toilet is all you have for the next twenty- two to twenty-four hours of the day?

C. We should not continue the practice of solitary confinement in the United States criminal justice system.

Controversial Premises
3, 5, 7
Premise 3 is an estimated number. Premise 5 is talking about funds the correctional facilities have and where they spend the money received. Premise 7 is hard to track but people who have common history in prison are known to associate with each other.

Non-Controversial
Premise 1 is a definition. Premise 2 is backed by psychological studies and defies human nature. Premise 4 that is where convicted people go to serve time and where rehabilitation occurs. Premise 6 is a definition.

Premise 8 is a question.
antonellaa

Con

1. I agree with the definition of solitary confinement; however, I would also like to add that they are allowed to see/interact with prison guards.

2. If a person is placed into solitary confinement, then they will be properly disciplined.

3. Solitary confinement is not entirely immoral nor is it unethical because of its intention of disciplining someone.

4. Being disciplined is good.

5. All other negative consequences of solitary confinement, such as: damaged psyche, being unable to 'properly' integrate back into society, and deviating from society's norms with new mental instability, are acceptable in light of the benefits of being disciplined.

6. The eighth amendment states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

7. Solitary confinement cannot be considered cruel and unusual punishment because it might be harmful to one’s psyche. It is not a definite outcome of being placed into solitary confinement.

8. Regarding the statistic “…A third of the population in solitary confinement are made up of mentally ill people,” does that reflect our current time, or the past? Because in the past, prior to the eighth amendment, people that were mentally ill were considered a danger to society, so they incarcerated them. Thereafter, the ‘cruel and unusual’ part of the eighth amendment was created. If it is allowed, then it does not violate the eighth amendment.

9. I do not agree with it being a social burden. How is this a social burden if the prisoners are being placed in isolation? They are no longer a burden if they are out of sight.

10. Americans pay enough taxes on prisons and prisoners now, how is ‘fixing them in a way society can see them as able to join the free population’ going to lessen that amount? It won’t – it will only add to the massive amount of taxes each American citizen already has to pay.

11. There are other ways to integrate them back into society. For example look at a soldier returning home for war that's been diagnosed with PTSD. The mental state is clearly unstable; however, after some time they are able to socialize with society again. How? Because of their influences they have in their life. With the right motivation and incentive a person can accomplish whatever they want.

12. Forms of solitary confinement are used in every day life and work; for instance, children -- (instead of being hit) they are placed in a corner for an hour or two. These tactics are used for discipline.

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13. Therefore, solitary confinement is necessary, and we should continue the practice of it.

Non-controversial: premise 1 is stating, and adding to, the definition of solitary confinement. Premise 2 is a casual claim; therefore, it cannot be controversial. Premise 6 is what the eighth amendment states, nothing is being argued there. Premise 8 is asking for additional clarification because pro’s premise was too vague to determine what was meant by “…a third of the population.”

Controversial: All other premises can be refuted and argued. None of my arguments have accurate evidence to support the claims; however, it is based off of common knowledge -- what that may be considered will vary depending on the person. Premise 9 is a question, but is also followed by a subjective statement, and it can be argued.

Debate Round No. 1
scholar1

Pro

1. Interaction with guards is not the interaction needed when going through the rehabilitation process.
2 That is subjective and has been shown to cause issues in the future.
3. It is unethical and immoral because it is against human rights.
4. Being disciplined is good when the punishment is equal to the violation, but while trying to fix them the correction institution should not use a method that breaks their mental state.
5. It is not acceptable because it deviates from the purpose of our criminal justice system we have.
6. The Gomez court ruled that the degree of psychological trauma inflicted on the average prisoner is not enough by itself to create an Eighth Amendment violation. This shows that there are psychological damages done whether its legal or not under the constitution. Proving that it violates the eighth amendment is like trying to win an eminent domain case in court.
7. There are studies that prove it is harmful to the psyche.
8.Mentally ill people were incarcerated because the study of the human mind began with Sigmund Freud and which will show that the mentally ill were misunderstood at that time.
9. It is a social burden when they are released from prison.
10. Do humans have a monetary value? If they do then how much money are you willing to spend on to keep a family member from being diagnosed with a mental illness?
11. Most people in prison do not have anyone to help them, so comparing them to a soldier in this situation is an inaccurate comparison.
12. An hour or two is different from spending 22hrs or more. Just because it is used by parents does not make it right.
antonellaa

Con

1. Prison is not a form of rehabilitation; therefore, interaction with anyone is not even necessary. Regardless, people are not in imprisoned to make friends, they are there to atone for their mistakes. When a person commits a crime, they are aware of what they are doing (with the exception of the mentally ill, and the ‘insane.’) Furthermore, they do not receive any form of rehabilitation, but rather a form of strict incarceration. The definition of solitary confinement does not address the issue of rehabilitation.
2. Regarding premise 2: how far in the future? If anything, the person who has claimed to have ‘developed’ some sort of mental illness as a result of solitary confinement may not be telling the truth. If it’s too far in the future, then there may have been other causes to their illness, and not necessarily solitary confinement; however, since that may be the most traumatic (in their opinion), that is what they will blame.
3. Human rights are not technically being violated. While in solitary confinement, their freedom of speech is not being taken from them. There are guards who can and will interact with them. They are not physically being beaten, nor are they being mentally abused. No one is belittling them – instead, they are forced to reflect on their actions in solitude. Is that so wrong? While they may develop monophobia, a fear of being alone and having to cope without a specific person, that does not mean that this is a form of torture; therefore, it cannot be considered immoral or unethical -- maybe ... unfortunate.
4. What you see this as is punishment, but I am treating this as discipline. Discipline is the act of training others to abide by the rules or a certain kind of behavior. Spending time alone will give them a chance to realize that they cannot commit those same crimes again, and if that damages their psyche it’s a necessary sacrifice. Would you rather these people be beaten? Should we break bones, instead?
6. Cruel and unusual punishment can be interpreted a number of ways; however, as I’ve stated before, I feel as those solitary confinement cannot even considered as a form of punishment. It is a form of discipline that is used to help people correct the wrongs people have made. Some individuals’ minds are more fragile than others, which is a statement I will agree with, but there are certain measures that we must take in order to ensure the safety of the rest of the country. Abiding by the rules provided by our government is a necessity in life, and the consequences, whatever they may be, need to be accepted.
7. Saying “there are studies…” and actually stating the studies are two different claims; if provided the accurate studies, then perhaps I could agree to your premise. Nonetheless, I still feel as though it doesn’t damage the human psyche as much as actual torture would.
8. Exactly my point, which is why in my previous round I asked: which time period are you referring to when stating “…A third of the population in solitary confinement are made up of mentally ill people?” Still, you have not answered my question, which leaves me to believe that you do not have enough accurate evidence to support your claim.
9. A social burden refers to the fact that they now add additional suffering or cost to a society; I don’t see how this can be a social burden if they are happy to be freed and willing to interact with society again. When a person is released from prison they either commit another crime, or they continue to make amends for said crime. If placed back into jail or solitary confinement, then it may be considered a social burden. However, when they are released and accepted back into society, albeit slightly difficult, they are no longer considered a social burden.
10.Humans do not have a ‘price;’ unfortunately, that is not how the rest of the world sees it. If that were the case (that we have no monetary value), then how come it cost money to adopt a child? If we consider ourselves to be so righteous, then why are we putting a price tag on anyone? The same applies to this, I would hesitant to spend – but if it were for the greater good, then I would have to pay. When it comes to taxes, Americans do not have a say in the matter; it solely depends on the government. Therefore, we would have to pay regardless if we are willing to or not.
11. For premise 11, define the term: most. The claim is too vague for me to argue against. Whether it is statistics or a cited estimated number, do you know how many people do not have anyone to help them?
12.Although this is extremely repetitive, would you rather they be continuously beaten for 22 hours, instead? In a sense, the two forms of discipline have a lot more in common than people realize. A parent typically sends their child to a corner to think about the mistakes they have made. In solitary confinement, that is exactly what they are trying to do as well: hoping that these people understand what they’ve done wrong, and that they do not commit the same crimes again.

Debate Round No. 2
scholar1

Pro

1.I agree, prison is not a form of rehabilitation,but it is a place where rehabilitation does occur. Agree, they are aware of their actions but the reason for prison is to house them while they pay their debt but also to change. When punishing someone, you are attempting to make sure they know they did something wrong and try to make sure it doesn"t happen. The definition of solitary confinement does not and will not work as a tool of rehabilitation because you cannot use torture to change someone for good.

2.You already implied that you agree with my premise stating problems can occur and arguing whether it happens now or later is irrelevant. When studies show a problem in someone"s mind is happening it becomes very clear that it becomes torture because as humans we crave social interactions to maintain a healthy mental mind.

3.They are being hurt, and right to life are being violated. When someone is being hurt it is under the torture category of the basic human rights and a right to life is being violated by not living in safety. Their safety is being violated when their mind is not in a safe and healthy environment. Psychological abuse is exposing a person to an environment that results in psychological trauma.

4. What is being done is conditioning. We are not dogs wearing a bell. We act because of decisions we make and can be reasoned with. I understand you are using it as a discipline but as you probably know, rehab takes place in prison and jail and if they break one of the rules in prison, they have to go through more intense rehab to retrieve the damage mind. Sacrificing a mind is like sacrificing a person.

6. Are okay with putting a person in a small room with no windows?

7. You agreed that damages a person.

8.A report in 2003 states a third of the solitary confined population has a mental illness.

9.It is common to have ex-cons applying for government assistance, which is payed for by the people and you previously were stating it cost alot to house them and now adding to taxes towards their benefits just adds up more. Do you believe they should be fixed in prison while serving time?

10.The government is the people. We could change how taxes are done. And money is being given to those that choose to adopt not couples paying to adopt. We do not pay for a child, we do pay for what they wear and eat and any other essentials to live.

11.Most is more than 50%. I do not know, but that is why we have people in correctional facilities to help them while they are there.

12.They are taking a beating, not physically though. To show that they understand they should be asked, but they are just released from confinement and left alone until they mess up again.
antonellaa

Con


  1. 1. ­The term prison is defined as: buildings in which people are legally held as a punishment for crimes they’ve committed. In no way does that consist of rehabilitation. To rehabilitate means to restore something back to its original state, that is not what prison is attempting to do. Prison is strictly for having the convicted make amends for their mistakes. When a person does drugs, they are sent to rehab to cease their addictions; they do not go to prison because prison will not rehabilitate them. Indeed, solitary confinement is not a form of rehabilitation, never did I state that; therefore, rehabilitation plays no part in our argument.

  2. 2. Implying and stating my agreement towards the matter are two different things; never assume your opponent has agreed with your statement. I may or may not agree with the statement, but that still does not suffice as enough proof that it becomes torture. Studies can be exaggerated, and it can be useless to an argument; hence the reason why I asked how far in the future. We, as human beings, tend to over exaggerate – especially if we’ve convinced ourselves into thinking that solitary confinement is at fault for mental instability, though that may not even be the case.

  3. 3. Though I agree to that statement, to an extent, that still does not match the definition of torture: the infliction of severe pain on someone as a form of punishment. In no way are they being physically harmed nor is this a matter of punishment. Again, this is discipline not punishment. Thus, it avoids being categorized as torture.

  4. 4. We are humans, and as humans we are expected to abide by the rules provided. And if we do not abide by these rules, then the consequences will be faced, regardless of what they are.

  5. 5. My personal view makes no difference to the argument, but yes. If it meant that this person would not commit the same crime again, then I would be comfortable with my decision.

  6. 6. I did, but again – “Some individuals’ minds are more fragile than others, which is a statement I will agree with, but there are certain measures that we must take in order to ensure the safety of the rest of the country. Abiding by the rules provided by our government is a necessity in life, and the consequences, whatever they may be, need to be accepted.”

  7. 7. Perhaps my rewording of my question was confusing, what I’m saying is: In 2003, these studies stated: in 2003, a third of our population had mental illnesses as a result of solitary confinement? Over what period of time did our population have these diagnoses?

  8. 8. Rehabilitation does not occur in prison; therefore, I cannot answer your question. Either way, I will dismiss my next claim; I suppose they do become a social burden.

  9. 9. When was the last time you changed the taxes? Why is the wealthy being taxed less than the poor? We do not have a say in the matter; we place our faith in the leaders that were chosen to represent our country. And regarding adoption: “A voluntary adoption of a newborn through a non-profit agency will generally cost between $10,000 and $25,000. Attorney adoptions of newborns generally run from $20,000 to $30,000.”

  10. 10. More than 50% seems plausible, but it does not change my argument. This does not mean all of the people incarnated do not have other people looking out for them.

  11. 11. People who are released from prison have officers that look out for them, they are not completely free until they are considered ‘acceptable’ for society.

Debate Round No. 3
scholar1

Pro

1. Solitary confinement is the isolation of a prisoner in a separate cell as a punishment in jail and prison.
2. Solitary confinement should not be used for rehabilitation due to the damage it causes.
3. Using solitary confinement as a tool to implement punishment is torture to the person receiving.
4. Humans are very social creatures.
5. It burdens the freed people that have to pay for helping these people that faced solitary confinement to help fix the psyche of the person.
6. Correction officers in the prisons are not psychologist and do not understand the damage solitary confinement does.
7. Correction officers may see solitary confinement as punishment.
8. Prison are focused on keeping order within and not rehabilitating the inmates.
C. Solitary confinement should not be used in the criminal justice system.
antonellaa

Con

  1. 1. Solitary confinement can be perceived as a form of discipline, whereas most consider it punishment.
  2. 2. Prison is strictly for having the convicted make amends for their mistakes.
  3. 3. Solitary confinement is not entirely immoral nor is it unethical because of its intention of disciplining someone. In no way does that consist of rehabilitation.
  4. 4. If a person is placed into solitary confinement, then they are undergoing discipline.
  5. 5. Discipline is good.
  6. 6. All other negative consequences of solitary confinement, such as: damaged psyche, being unable to 'properly' integrate back into society, and deviating from society's norms with new mental instability, are acceptable in light of the benefits of being disciplined.
  7. 7. Human rights are not technically being violated. The eighth amendment that states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted,” is not being violated because solitary confinement is not considered a form of torture.
  8. 8. Torture consists of a person being physically beaten; therefore, no torture transpires whilst prisoners endure solitary confinement.
  9. 9. Although it may seem like a social burden, it does not necessarily mean that it is the worst option that could be used in prison. There are other punishments that are far worse than just solitary confinement.
  10. 10. Prisoners are not entirely alone; interaction between guards and prisoners exist. Thus, they cannot be considered completely alone.
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11.Therefore, solitary confinement is necessary, and we should continue the practice of it.

While bits and pieces of my argument have adjusted due to agreements/disagreements, my conclusion remains the same.
Solitary confinement is the lesser of all other evils in prison. The prisoner is left alone to contemplate their mistakes and atone for the crimes they’ve committed, it is not necessarily a place where rehabilitation will occur.

Debate Round No. 4
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