The United States should substantially reduce or remove manditory minimum sentencing guidlines
Debate Rounds (3)
i. This round shall consist of 3 posts from each participant. The first two may include any arguments. The last should include no new arguments, but may respond to arguments already made, and should contextualize the debate.
ii.Any arguments are welcome so long as they are warrented. Debate the rules of the debate, as long as you warrent why we should.
iii. Hard statistics should be sourced, but one doesn't need to source every small claim. When evidence is doubted, the opposition may ask for a specific citation of such evidence, provide contrasting evidence, or both. This does not need to be an evidence-heavy round.
1. Judges should evaluate the round in terms of net-benefits. Comparing the benefits and disadvantages provided by both competitors allows for the least amount of judge intervention allowing for the debate to function.
2. The affirming side gains access to Fiat. Fiat is essentially the assumption that the outcome of the round has a real world impact; it's imagining the result of the debate as though it would actually be implemented.
(a) This makes the debate fair as it provides a clear way to analyze the winner.
(b) This provides the most real world experience for policy making decisions and should be preferred on the grounds of educational benefit.
3. Both methodology and policy should be considered.
(a) The hard outcomes of a policy are not always solely indicative of the true inter workings of a policy. Good policy may eventually be derailed if based on bad methodology.
1. Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MMS) is a system by which convicted criminals are confined to a minimum sentence.
2. Throughout the past 4 years, MMS relating to drugs have been reduced
3. The largest use of MMS tends to apply to drug related charges
Plan Text: The US Should Reduce MMS By Removing All MMS Related to Non-Violent Drug Crimes
Advantage 1: Racial Justice
1. Racial equality is low now
(a)The idea of racial equality in the United States is a myth. While many argue that racial discrepancies are merely spotlighted, there is strong evidence supporting the assertion that when proportionality is taken into account, there are still biases against racial minorities.
(b) "African American children are three times more likely to live in poverty than Caucasian children. American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian families are more likely than Caucasian and Asian families to live in poverty (Costello, Keeler, & Angold, 2001; National Center for Education Statistics, 2007)."
2. MMS provides a unique outlook for the reinforcement of racial biases
(a) Perhaps the most known example of inequality based on race in legal proceedings is that of the law passed during the Reagan administration in regards to crack cocaine. The law ultimately made punishment for crack substantially higher than cocaine. Crack is the freebase form of Cocaine HCL, as in it is not the salt form of cocaine. The largest difference between the two is in the demographics of users. Cocaine was primarily used by privileged whites while crack was primarily associated with African Americans in poverty. In turn, it seems plausible that the methodology of the law was inherently racist.
(b) Jon Gettman, a public policy professor at Shenandoah University wrote a report suggesting that in Washington DC, African Americans were 8x more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites. Additionally, African Americans accounted for around 91% of the arrests
(c) Even if changing the sentencing does not change enforcement (IE more African Americans may still be arrested disproportionately), it minimizes the actual impact that racial bias has in the judiciary.
(d) Many MMS make a hierarchy of punishment. There are specific cutoffs for when laws should apply. For example, possession of x amount of LSD may result in less of an MMS than possession of y amount. However, police may use discretion when weighing. Cops may include the bags drugs are kept in or the blotter drugs are put on when weighing. So while 100 micrograms of LSD may be a dose, if the blotter paper weighs 1-2 mg, a cop may say that a person possessed 2 mg of LSD, or 20 doses. Cops can be influenced by racial bias in this judgement.
1. By passing the plan, one removes the means through which racial inequality can be enforced.
(a) A law does not need to solve for all instances to be preferable. While racist cops may still exist, removing guidelines that largely seek to target minorities is preferable to the status quo.
(b) A large proportion of MMS are enforced with racially suggestive outcomes.
2. Even if little measurable impacts occur, a mere perceptual shift would help racial equality by both ensuring persons that equality is coming and by setting a precedence for future government action.
C. Internal Links
1. In setting a strong legislative precedence towards racial equality, one helps actively raise awareness that results in change.
2. Judicial action is key to changing the socioeconomic disparities between races.
(a) In constantly targeting minorities over Caucasians, one lowers the competitiveness of minorities in the workforce, as felons are inherently more likely to be unemployed or underemployed due to the weight of a felony charge
(b) More specific to MMS, the amount of time spent in the justice system reduces one's acquisition of human capital. Human capital refers to the skills one gains from training and education. Time spent in prisons is time spent not gaining practical work experience.
(c) Time spent in jail prevents one from working, gaining education, or providing for relatives. This entrenches cyclical poverty.
(a) By prohibiting the acquisition of skills needed for employment, putting a financial burden on persons via legal costs, and taking one out of the workforce, one is inherently put into a cycle of poverty.
(b) Reinforcing poverty is self-fulfilling. Racial discrimination becomes perceptually reinforced by the false association with race and status. Additionally, statistically, children of parents who are not college educated are less likely to advance to secondary education.
(c) Poverty kills more people than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.
2. Poverty is uniquely destructive as it reduces one's value to life. Value to life should be the most important impact in the round, as if one's life has no value to it, it is worse than death as one lives without self-actualization or meaning. Disparity economically and racial enforcement of laws lends to the politics of disposability. When one is reduced to bare life they become numbers on a page. When life has no value, death has no value, and any number of atrocities can be justified against the target group
Advantage 2: Judicial Legitimacy
1. Judicial trust by the public is low now
(a) The result of FEC v Citizen's United saw a large public backlash indicative of an increasingly dangerous trend of public mistrust in the courts.
2. Cross apply the d subpoint of the 2nd argument under uniqueness for Adv 1. The law upholds arbitrary and unreasonable interpretations of laws.
(a) Eric Holder himself argued that MMS were a substantial detractor for the law, both in being unnecessary and unfair.
3. MMS legitimize other systems of injustice in the legal system.
(a) Plea bargaining acts as a coercive means of gaining convictions. Prosecutors are able to use threats to coerce people into pleading guilty to a lesser crime, even when in many instances they are innocent.
(b) By stacking together charges and the MMS sentencing, prosecutors have the ability to threaten persons through the severity of applicable MMS's
(c) According to Northwestern University law, plea bargaining occurred in "slightly fewer than six out of ten innocent study participants"
1. In removing unpopular and perceptually unjust facets of the law, one makes the judiciary more legitimate.
C. Internal Links
1. A working and trusted judiciary is key to a functioning democracy
(a) Since Marbury v Madison, the courts have served a vital role as an independent check on government.
(b) The system of checks present in the US is crucial to the functionality of government in a democratic fashion in non-parliamentarian governments
1. Governmental legitimacy
(a) In the absence of the balance of powers, the hegemonic contention between the legislative and executive authorities can directly inhibit the functionality of government.
(b) Without the court's legitimacy being upheld, there exists a severe power vacuum in the impacts and enforcement of all legislature, and a lack of constitutionality based checks on laws.
(c) No constitutional checks on laws threatens the basis of the US system
2. Prevents dangerous and unconstitutional laws
(a) Currently, the use of drones both nationally and internationally is high now.
i. Eric Holder maintained that drones could be used internationally
ii. The CATO institute cites the use of drones as a major contributor to anti-US sentiment
(b) The courts provide an extra legislative check on the use of drones
(c) The use of drones allows for the accumulation of anti US sentiment
(d) As the organization and legitimacy of anti-US sentiment grows, the magnitude of terrorist impacts increases.
(f) Given how the US responded to 9/11, one can only imagine the response to a nuclear strike, likely targeting an arbitrary nation or region
(g) Even a limited nuclear retaliation lends to greater nuclear conflict. A small scale nuclear strike either originating from a Pakistani based non-state actor or enacted on said actor would give India an excuse to first strike Pakistan, claiming that they perceived the nuclear strike as targeting them
"Jon Gettman, a public policy professor at Shenandoah University [sic] wrote a report suggesting that in Washington DC, African Americans were 8x [sic] more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites. Additionally, African Americans accounted for around 91% of the arrests [sic]" The correlation between a high number of people arrested for drug-related charges and a certain ethnicity or origin does not prove that associates' court cases are specifically linked to racism, let alone that their charges are heavily influenced by racism. Have you ever heard of lurking variables? The same statistical citation that you used to assume that racism is present could be used to show that more African American people participate in drug-related events, that there are more African American people in dangerous cities, that marijuana is the drug of choice, etc. Another important note is that you used the word, "suggested." This means that the source did not necessarily have to have stated what was intended by my opponent. Furthermore, many people working in areas of justice are also of the same African American ethnicity.
"A law does not need to solve for all instances to be preferable. While racist cops may still exist, removing guidelines that largely seek to target minorities is preferable to the status quo." Here, my opponent is conceding that this law change will not solve the problems that have been presented. Pro is also indicating that a law does not need to be fully beneficial to be preferable, which, in some cases, contradicts other current laws. There are many other ways to benefit racial equality without jeopardizing existing judicial matters.
"Poverty is uniquely destructive as it reduces one's value to life. Value to life should be the most important impact in the round, as if one's life has no value to it, it is worse than death as one lives without self-actualization or meaning." Minimal sentencing restrictions are in place to benefit those that are prosecuted, not to desecrate their lives. Poverty may be an issue, but it is not the only one.
Regardless, this argument is irrelevant to the topic and especially to my claim. Race and financial standings just do not have any direct correlation to the issue of mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, nor should they, which is where we both can agree.
"Judicial trust by the public is low now [sic]...(a) The result of FEC v Citizen's United saw a large public backlash indicative of an increasingly dangerous trend of public mistrust in the courts." This statement is very vague and therefore useless. Elaboration would have been beneficial for the debate.
"Plea bargaining acts as a coercive means of gaining convictions. Prosecutors are able to use threats to coerce people into pleading guilty to a lesser crime, even when in many instances they are innocent." Common sense would be that if one is aware that they are innocent and/or accompanied by a knowledgeable lawyer, they would refuse to plead guilty. Also, keep in mind that plea bargaining is not the same as minimal sentencing. In the cases you presented, mandatory minimum sentencing would actually act as a barrier for plea bargaining by restricting the amount of negotiation that can take place.
"In removing unpopular and perceptually unjust facets of the law, one makes the judiciary more legitimate." What does popularity have to do with justice? This contradicts your entire argument, especially sections involving prejudice. How, exactly, are we defining, "perceptually unjust"? Are you implying that these issues only first appear unfair? This claim is rather shady on your behalf.
"A working and trusted judiciary is key to a functioning democracy [sic]" Evidently, this has no clear link to mandatory minimal sentencing whatsoever.
blarson forfeited this round.
I apologize for the forfited round. I have been sick with both viral and bacterial bronchitis and havent had the energy to even use my computer.
I am going to reserve my space to place one new theory argument.
A. Interpretation: Prior to the start of the second round, the debate has not become fully competative
i. Opening constructives are essentially rehearsed. The opening arguments one makes are usually the least specific, and are broad overviews to use to go into more depth during the second round on
ii. Both statements made during the first round were not conclusive
B. Violation: The affirmative team forfited the second round due to medical reasons
i. While I accepted the risk of forfit in creating the debate, the means by which it occured were neither foreseeable nor in my control
C. Advocacy: Because responding to my opponents first round arguments in round 3 would require the rules of debate to be stretched, please vote this debate as a tie, and I will challange my oponnent to a new debate of the same topic with my case verbatim as my intro
i. Fairness: a) I neither knew I would be feverishly ill, or had the abiity when I was to stop it
b) IF I MADE MY RESPONSE TO ROUND ONE HERE, ONE OF TWO THINGS WOULD OCCUR. Either my opponent wouldnt make new arguments in his final round, which would be unfair to him as it would remove a large amount of his ground, or I would be unable to respond to his rebuttal
c) The above point is because the final round in most debates is reserved for summaries, not new arguments
ii. Education: a) The first round proved to be exceptionally competative. Both my opponent and I make strong arguments that would be beneficial to learn
b) Voting a tie on this round enables the real debate to continue in a new one, expanding the amount of rhetorical challange we engage in
E. As a theory argument, this comes before anything else in the round, and as a priori, judges must vote on this issue first. My advocacy is that you vote neutral on all portions of the ballot for the reasons given above
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