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The Contender
Con (against)
8 Points

The defense system in both Canada and the U.S. is far to lenient

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/19/2010 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,760 times Debate No: 11794
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
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I have chosen to agree with the above statement. The reason why is simple. There are numerous cases where criminals that should of been in prison had been let out early due to "good behaviour" or "parol" and struck again. A huge example would be the case of Jaycee Dugard. Her kidnapper, Phillip Garrido should of been in prision at the time she was kidnapped. He was not. Instead, he had been let ot early due to "good behaviour." If the system had been tougher, then Jaycee would not of had to endure the 18 year tragedy that she did.


I wish my opponent good luck.


Thanks, Pro, for beginning this debate.

Rebuttal --

1. Pro insists that the U.S. (and Canadian) prison system is too lenient because they negotiate sentences in certain cases based on good behavior or other conditions. However, for criminals convicted of the most heinous crimes, they are generally not allowed parole and often being let out on good behavior is not an option. In fact, 1/3 of the life sentences being served in jail do not have the option of being freed on the basis of parole [1].

2. Phillip Garrido wound up serving 11 out of a 50 year sentence for being caught trying to sexually assault a girl. As a parolee, he was monitored, wore a GPS-enabled ankle bracelet, and was regularly visited by police [2]. So as you can see, the authorities didn't just "let this guy go fee" but instead kept him on his toes by visiting often, and making him wear an ankle bracelet. Of course none of this was enough to deter his next crime; however, which was unfortunate but does not indicate that Garrido was made a free man. Additionally, Garrido's wife was a co-conspirator and largely responsible for Jaycee's kidnapping. My point here is that Garrido probably would not have been able to carry out his next crime without help, meaning his punishment wasn't "too lenient" but rather he was 'fortunate' enough to have help to be able to commit a second crime.

Arguments --

3. Parole was introduced as an alternative to incarceration when it became apparent that jail time was unsatisfactorily effective at preventing further criminal behavior by offenders [3]. People thought that it would be better to try rehabilitation rather than punishment. This is especially true in cases like Jaycee's where the offender was evaluated and deemed psychologically unstable. In that case, intense psychiatric therapy might be more beneficial than jailing which could perhaps make the problem worse. This is also true in cases of drug addicts, which Garrido also was. While I do think that this man in particular probably should have not been granted parole, the point here is to prove that not all cases of parole are bad and in fact some cases can benefit both the offender and society by trying to rehabilitate offenders rather than simply jail them. Especially for these reasons...

4. Over-crowding. It is less expensive to supervise a parolee than to incarcerate a prisoner. In the United States especially we suffer from an over-crowding of jails; this problem is considered the "greatest problem" that jails face today [4]. Should we accept that people are overall becoming more immoral, or perhaps consider that some people are simply jailed unfairly or unnecessarily? I've already pointed out that studies showed incarceration alone was ineffective at solving the problem. Consider, for instance, the reality that legalizing the death penalty does not actually deter crime [5]. This proves that simply imposing harsher penalties does not really deter crime, and other issues should be addressed.

5. As I mentioned, should we just accept that people are acting more wrongfully than in the past? That doesn't seem entirely logical. Many people are locked up on behalf of unjust laws. For instance, most of the War on Drugs has been a complete and utter failure. People are being charged with felonies and lives are being ruined based on ridiculous laws, such as it being illegal to have sex with the lights on in Virginia [6] or perhaps more seriously ridiculous drug laws that have the capacity to ruin lives.

Consider, for instance, Governor Pataki's proposal to increase minor marijuana offenses from misdemeanors to felonies [7]. In other words, consuming a bit of marijuana -- which in every way is LESS harmful to both the individual and society than alcohol -- will cost people thousands in unnecessary legal fees, swamp the criminal justice system, and brand someone forever with being convicted of a felony: something that will be tracked and haunt them for the rest of their life.

As you can see, this law and ones like it are absurd and can be very harsh. So in short, while our prison system may be too lenient in some areas, they are also significantly harsh in others thereby equaling it out. Perhaps the problem isn't that our system is "far too lenient" but rather too lenient and too harsh in the wrong areas. This general statement, however (the resolution) certainly cannot apply to the system as a whole.

6. Parole gives people the chance to contribute to society, which benefits society as a whole so that they don't waste tax dollars on housing people who need not be in jail. Agreed, criminals who have committed the most atrocious crimes - kidnapping, rape, murder, etc. - should probably not receive parole. However, most people out on parole are heavily monitored and have not done heinous things. I contend that our system merely needs revision, though is not overall "far too lenient" as the resolution implies.

With that said, I'll send this debate back over to Pro.

Debate Round No. 1


I would like to say that my opponent brings up some very good points, but I would like to bring something up. Yes, Phillip Gorrido did have monitoring devices, and was visited regularly, but the truth is, these were half-baked done jobs. A neighbour stated that they saw and heard children playing in the backyard of Garrido's yard, which was a violation of his parole. When the police arrived to investigate, that did not check the back yard, or even go into his house for that matter. In fact, many of the visits were literally going to the door to check up on him, then leaving.

I agree with some statements my opponent brings up, such as that some laws are to harsh. If the system were to spend it's time convicting actually serious crimes, and putting those who truly deserve to go to jail IN jail, and those who don't, in parole (such a minor drug felonies) then I believe that the system could work much better. However, (and I am bringing up a controversial topic here) perhaps more states, and the whole of Canada, should use the death penalty for cases such as Philip Garido, and as well as Casey Anthony, also known as Tot Mom, a woman who supposedly killed her young daughter. Not only would it stop jails from becoming over-crowded, but also, it would the rid earth of some truly disgusting people. I don't, of course, say that the death penalty should be used for all, but many, murders that occur. The death penalty is indeed a harsh judgment, but it is a necessary one if we want to punish those who need to be punished without corners being cut, and our prisons becoming over crowded.

I wait for my opponents rebuttle.


Thanks, Pro, for responding.

Pro's first argument was that the parole checks done on Mr. Garrido were not thorough, and I would tend to agree with him. However, that doesn't mean that the incompetence of those few speak for the ability of parole officers as a whole. Also, the case of Philip Garrido does not represent the entire judicial system. Further, Pro's only other contention in the 2nd round called for the implementation of the death penalty. What Pro fails to acknowledge is that the majority of states in the U.S. actually have legalized the death penalty; 35 states to be exact [1]. With that said, I'd like to extend my arguments from the first round (many of which Pro admittedly agrees with). My point was that our system is often too harsh on citizens, thereby negating the resolution that it's not only lenient but far too lenient. Also, I explained why some policies that seem lenient are actually beneficial as a whole. I concluded by pointing out that we have just as many harsh policies as lenient policies, and that just because certain offenders do horrific things doesn't mean that our system as a whole is ineffective or unjust. With that said, I'll send this debate back over to Pro...

Debate Round No. 2


gaarafan15 forfeited this round.


Unfortunately my opponent has not responded. Please extend my arguments - thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
rfd: b/a = con. spelling & g = con. see debate. conduct = con, pro forfeited the last round. sources = con. pro had 1 irrelevant source and i had 8.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by quarterexchange 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited
Vote Placed by Danielle 7 years ago
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