The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
21 Points

Wylted 100th Debate: The United States should implement caning as a punishment for criminals.

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 8/14/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,132 times Debate No: 59921
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (132)
Votes (4)




This debate won't be started for at least another 2 weeks. Between then and now, I'll work on the resolution. Any advice on that part is welcome.

The debate should be impossible to accept and I will be nominating judges and doing a choose winner option. Judges are yet to be determined and any suggestions by potential opponents will be considered.

I'll be arguing that criminals should have the option of being caned it going to prison, should they receive a jail/prison sentence.

Yes, even murderers.


Definitions that might come in handy;

Caning- "Caning is a form of corporal punishment consisting of a number of hits (known as "strokes" or "cuts") with a single cane usually made of rattan, generally applied to the offender's bare or clothed buttocks. "

I propose judicial caning as an alternative to sentencing as a punishment for criminal convictions. It will be optional for criminals who are not a grave an imminent threat to society, which is the case for many murderers.

The caning will take place in front of an appropriately trained medical professional to insure the caning doesn't cause irreversible damage or death to the criminal.

Edit: only people with an ELO of 2500 and up can vote on the debate.


Thanks for the challenge, Wylted. I accept.
Debate Round No. 1


I first heard of using caning as a punishment for crimes in 1994. At that time an 18 year old by the name of Michael Peter Fay was all over the news on all the mainstream media. He was caught vandalizing and stealing from cars in Singapore. Unfortunately for him the punishment for such acts in that country is 6 cane strokes. [1]

Half of America was outraged at the harsh punishment and people like me were glad that thief/vandal wasn't going to get off easy. Caning isn't a new thing it's been used for years and all over the world. When you're done reading this debate, you'll see why America should give it a try as well.


This debate is heavily influenced by the excerpts from the book In Defense of Flogging, written by Baltimore cop Peter Moskos.

The United States Prison system has huge problems. There are too many people locked up for too long and for stupid offenses. Moskos put's it well:

"Even bad people have some attributes that help their family and community function. From behind bars a prisoner can"t be a father, hold a job, maintain a relationship, or take care of elderly grandparents. His girlfriend suffers, his baby"s mother suffers. Their children suffer. Because of this, in the long run, we all suffer."[2]


It cost just und $24,000 to incarcerate somebody for a year.[3] It's not cheap to lock somebody up, feed them clothes them and keep them under constant watch. I'm not exactly sure what the costs of beating somebody with a cane is, but I can assure you it costs nowhere near that much. If you count state and local jails, the prison population is somewhere around 2.4 million people (mostly nonviolent) in prison right now.[4]

I mean 74 billion dollars is spent housing prisoners every year.[5] I offer a low cost solution to this problem.


A lot of critics of the current prison system in America argue that incarceration acts as a type of felon university. Petty criminals get locked up with hardcore criminals and learn the trade, so to speak. They go into prison some small time pot dealer and come out meaner, stronger and with more criminal intent.

This applies half of all criminals. About 50% are locked up for non violent offenses. 20% are locked up for victimless drug offenses.[6] This is horrible. We're taking your run of the mill crack head or pot dealer and turning him into a criminal who will ultimately do greater harm to society.

This part of my argument isn't even debatable. There is pretty much a scholarly consensus that prison does not reduce the recidivism rate of criminals.[7] Just about every new study on prison and recidivism rates that comes out continually affirms what the consensus already is. Putting people in prison doesn't help them or society. It's just screwing up a person's life as well as their friends, family and the community.

I'm taking this a step further though. Not only does prison fail to reduce the recidivism rate, it actually increases it. A study from Rafael Di Tella and Ernesto Schargrodsky concludes that people who were on house arrest reoffended at a much lower rate than people who were sentenced to prison. In this study the recidivism rate for prisoners was 22% and for those on house arrest was a mere 13%.

This study was conducted in Argentina to account for a bunch of influences that could bias the study. The judges in Argentina in charge of assigning a person to electronic monitoring (here after referred to as EM) typically does so without meeting the offender and has very little knowledge of him, and it's done almost immediately after arrest as opposed to after a lengthy trial.

The offenders sentenced to EM in Argentina are just as likely to have serious offenses as those not. Another thing that makes Argentina a better place to conduct this study than America is that America uses EM as an extra punitive action instead of as a replacement for other punitive action.[8]

Another study done by Donald Hutcherson asked the question "Are prisons really a finishing school for criminals?". The study have some surprising answers. It took a look at illegal income from people before or without prison sentences and compared that with the income after release from prison. It turns out that after people go to prison, they either build better networks to help them make money or learn the trade better. Maybe some combination of both. The illegal income sky rocketed after a prison sentence to an additional $11,000 dollars a year.[9]

Why are we making criminals worse by sending them to prison? It's pointless, and ineffective. Let's give them the option of being caned so we can save tax payer's money and make society a safer place.


About 3.6 million parents are under some form of correctional supervision.[10] Most of these children are under 10 years old and 8 is about the average.[11] 38% of families use partial or total deception of a child to justify a parents prison sentence. Sometimes referring to prison as a school or military camp.[12] This has some catastrophic effects on the mental health of a child. Children who are uninformed or misinformed of their parent's incarceration are reported to be more fearful and anxious.[13] There is a lot of suffering these children have to face, because our justice system likes to put people in cages when better alternatives are available.

According to PEW

""After release, former male inmates work nine fewer weeks annually and take home 40 percent less in annual earnings, making $23,500 instead of $39,100. That amounts to an expected earnings loss of nearly $179,000 through age 48 for men who have been incarcerated."


""Before being incarcerated, two-thirds of male inmates were employed and more than half were the primary source of financial support for their children"[14]

Caning somebody, is a better alternative and has a lower recidivism rate than throwing them in a cage and throwing away the key. Sure, people do bad things and need to be punished but why should their entire family and the community at large be punished as well.

I think that movie Hitchcock with Will Smith is a good example of the prison system today. In Hitchcock Will Smith gets thrown in prison for some stuff that can barely be considered wrong. After a while society discovers that throwing black people in prison for stuff that can barely be considered wrong is worse for society than just letting them go. In this story society learns it's lesson and frees Will Smith so he can save the day, but in real life we haven't got that happy ending yet.

The rate of HIV jumps significantly when incarcerated to about 3 to 5 times that of the general population.[15] This is incredibly bad, because it creates a public health concern for the community at large.

It's also not a mystery that a disproportionate amount of black people are affected by incarceration.[16] This has some extremely bad effects on the black community, which include significantly more teenage pregnancies (as a result of women significantly outnumbering men) and also STD transmission. [17]

If the prison population was reduced it could have a significant effect on actually reducing the crime rate. [18] The current system is like a problem that keeps perpetuating it's self. It's like the person who over eats because they're depressed but is depressed because they're fat.


The current penal system is so heavily flawed, I can't see how my opponent could defend the status quo. I have BOP, but should my opponent advocate for significant prison reform, they'll then be forced to share BOP with me and show me how their solutions are better than mine.

All the problems I mentioned have a simple solution. Implement caning as an option over incarceration for people who aren't an imminent threat to society and who are healthy enough to participate in such a punishment. Why not make this one change that can have such a significant impact on society at large?

[10] Mumola, 2000
[11] Ibid
[12] Morriss, 1965
[13] Johnson, 1995
(note) source material for 10-13


Thanks, Wylted.


The resolution should be evaluated in a traditional policy manner--the affirmative presents a plan, and negative defeats it in any way possible. I will present counterplans and if you are convinced that they are superior to Pro's plan, you vote Con. If you are not convinced by by my counterplans but I poke enough holes in my opponents case to make it nonviable, you vote Con.

=My Case=

I. The resolution is a moral abomination

We have to work under the assumption that virtually every convict will choose caning over imprisonment. Since my opponent chose to defend such an extreme resolution, the question then becomes if judicial corporal punishment is a just penalty for all crimes and the answer is a resounding no. Indeed, there's a reason that Singapore does not let it's murderers off with a few bruises, because doing so would cause the justice system to fail in it's social responsibility. The Criminal Justice Center explains[1]: "It has been understood that a criminal justice system has two primary and possible conflicting goals: preventing and controlling crime, and achieving justice."

My opponents case fails on both levels. Affirming will allow individuals who forcibly ravaged little girls to go out and do it again after some mild bruising from a cane. The very thought of such a travesty happening even once should be enough to cause a public outcry, but Pro's plan allows it to happen constantly. Indeed, while Pro says that his plan encompasses a mechanism of determining which individuals are safe to society, he describes no machanism of doing so and it's a moot point anyway. Even if we were to assume that under Pro's plan there would be no recidivism, the justice system has still failed in it's duty to provide justice. The purpose of making laws and prosecuting people in the first place is because these individuals deserve punishment. Letting serious criminals go with what is, quite literally, a slap on the hand is a travesty.

Pro's plan also fails to uphold the justice systems first goal of preventing crime. Evidence on the mental effects of corporal punishment on adults seems to be nonexistent, but virtually all psycologists agree that it does not work on children[2] and that the harms outweigh the benefits. It seems an insurmountable barrier to the Aff case that crime is going to go absolutely through the roof when word gets out that you can do *anything* and the only penalty will be some physical discomfort.

II. The death penalty

Pro's plan gives convicts the opportunity to choose caning over imprisonment--it says nothing about the death penalty. When juries are faced with the stark choice of executing a murderer or letting him go free with a few bruises the vast majority will choose to execute as letting an individual who committed such a henious crime go is morally repungant. The entire incentive structure to murder trials in the United States will change as prosecutors choose to seek the death penalty for even the flimsiest of reasons and judges and juries respond in kind. This is bad for a variety of reasons:

a) The death penalty is a moral abomination. The citizen-state relationship ought not include a provision giving the state the right to kill. The very idea of immutable and sacred human rights is rendered obsolete when the state is given the right to determine which citizens are worthy of the most fundamental of rights: life itself. Implementing Pro's plan would see the death penalty go from a shrinking trend in a handful of states mostly concentrated in the south to the default sentence for murderers as states who have abolished it rush to implement the death penalty and those that already have it lower the requirements for a death sentence to try and slip by the caning mandate. Whatever one's opinion of the death penalty, each case is different and creating a situation where Juries must impose the death penalty or fail in their social responsibility to punish law breakers robs them of their autonomy.

Pro's plan will lead to a vast amount of innocents executed as juries impose the death penalty on criminals they would previously imprison as juries are extremely reluctant to hand down the death penalty without overwhelming evidence.

b) Increased use of the death penalty costs the taxpayer some serious green. As a typical example, it costs California about $90,000 a year more to house those sentenced to death compared with those given life imprisonment[3]. There were around 1800 murders in the state in 2012[4], and we can safely assume that each of these have the death penalty handed down to them which amounts to about $162 million a year for only those murderers that year on top of the trial and legal costs which, for a capital case, are enormous. The large amount of criminals kept in extremely expensive death rows and kept alive through lawyering about the appeals process will eat away at state budgets. These large costs can be extrapolated to the United States as a whole.

These numbers may look small in comparison with my opponents, but my next contention shows how I actually save a lot of money in the long run.

III. Counterplan: Legalize drugs and reform prison

The biggest problem with the penal system in the United States is that we imprison large amounts people for crimes that aren't crimes. Indeed, in 2011 in the United States roughly half (48%) of inmates in federal prison and 17% of those in state prison were imprisoned for drug offenses[5]. This amounts to around 345,000 people, about 20% of the population as a whole. I propose that the United States immediately legalize all drugs and pardon all criminals imprisoned for drug crimes. I also make a significant amount of revenue for the government: an analysis by CATO found that legalizing drugs and taxing them at the same way Tobacco is taxed would generate about $46.7 billion in annual revenue[6]. These revenues are unique to my case as I make drugs safe, regulated, and taxed while my opponent instead paddles those caught possessing them.

Moreover, since people punished for drug crimes are overwhemingly from some kind of minority group[7], Aff has the unique disadvantage of stoking up racial tension as large numbers of minorities are physically punished in a similar way slaves were punished by a largely white justice system.

The global drug war continues under the Aff case, oppressing poor people everywhere and continuing to allow large parts of Mexico to be under the control of the cartel while the country is in a literal drug war that has led to the death of over 100,000 people[8]. Negating will save thousands of lives.

The numbers also bear out the flaws in Pro's case: only 17% of inmates in state prison were there drug offenses. The majority (53%) of those in state prison were there for violent crimes. There are more murderers and rapists in state prison than there are drug offenders--these people should certainly be punished. Only so much of the large prison population in the United States can be explained through bad policy, the US simply has a uniquely high violent crime rate among developed countries.

The US should, however, reform it's prison system. Rothbard explains the flaw in the system of imprisonment used in the West[9]:

"What happens nowadays is the following absurdity: A steals $15,000 from B. The government tracks down, tries, and convicts A, all at the expense of B, as one of the numerous taxpayers victimized in this process. Then, the government, instead of forcing A to repay B or to work at forced labor until that debt is paid, forces B, the victim, to pay taxes to support the criminal in prison for ten or twenty years' time. Where in the world is the justice here?"

The prison system should be reformed to force inmates to work until their debt to their victims is repaid. Moreover, where people do have to be imprisoned, the US should focus on the approach Norway has taken where prisoners are treated as people and rehabilitation is emphasized: leading to the lowest recidivism rate in Europe[10]. Thus, I extend my opponents impacts about how the prison system in the US is flawed, and cross apply them with my counterplan.

You're voting neg because Pro's plan is a moral abomination, and whatever offense he does have is covered under my counterplans.



Debate Round No. 2


My opponent has made my case a little easier and I appreciate that. It's obvious that the status quo isn't cutting it and now we can focus on what the better solution is.

I. The resolution is a moral abomination

As I've proven in the previous round, prisons create monsters and incarceration harms society more than it does the criminal. Now my opponent has taken to calling caning a slap on the wrist. I encourage the voters who have a strong stomach and are adults to watch the video in the following link.

Warning Extremely Graphic:

The skin basically disintegrates as the cane hits the criminals behind. By the end of the video the guy has a butt with no skin attached where the cane hit it. Clearly it's a very painful experience. When you add on to the amount of humiliation and lifelong scarring this causes, you can see that it acts as a pretty good deterrent.

I didn't discuss what type of mechanism would be in place to determine the difference between somebody who is likely a repeat offender and who isn't. The system I offer is pretty simple. It will be based off of statistics.

According to the United States Department of Justice;

" Released prisoners with the highest rearrest rates were robbers (70.2%), burglars (74.0%), larcenists (74.6%),
motor vehicle thieves (78.8%), those in prison for possessing or selling stolen property (77.4%), and those in prison for possessing, using, or selling illegal weapons (70.2%)."

I also think it's a good ideal to keep the human element in these things so the statistics should serve as a guideline for judges to consider, but they should also look at previous arrest record and the facts surrounding each case.

II. The death penalty

There's no reason to think that the death penalty will be used more often against murderers, should caning be implemented as a punishment. Just like a jury can take the death penalty off the table, they should certainly be able to take caning off the table.

I think jurors might have to be educated a bit on the benefits of caning and when it might be acceptable to hand it out, but this system can work and be a major improvement on the status quo.

Many murderers stay in jail for years waiting for a trial. In the United States we have a right to a quick and speedy trial but many times it's waived. If you look at my citation for recidivism rates you can see that murder has one of the lowest percentages.

Actually implementing caning can insure many more people get justice. Florida took Casey Anthony to trial and we knew she had something to do with the death of her kid. There wasn't enough evidence to convict her but had caning been on the table, the jury may have been able to find her guilty in good conscience. Caylee Anthony may have been able to get justice. Unfortunately America doesn't have caning in place so that little girl received no justice at all.

What about George Zimmerman? This is another case where justice wasn't served, when it might have been if caning had been on the table. We don't know exactly what happened that night, but even if Zimmerman were innocent of murder the jury was still aware his actions were irresponsible and needed punishment. They could have found Zimmerman guilty and instead of walking out of that court free from any punishment, he could be walking out with the skin missing from his behind.

Let's get more justice in these fuzzy cases. Let's make caning a thing in America.

III. Counterplan: Legalize drugs and reform prison

I agree with con here, let's legalize drugs, but let's also beat the hell out of Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman with a stick.

Me and my opponent share a lot of the same beliefs about the prison system and it's problems. Let's revisit a quote Thett shared from Rothbard;

"What happens nowadays is the following absurdity: A steals $15,000 from B. The government tracks down, tries, and convicts A, all at the expense of B, as one of the numerous taxpayers victimized in this process. Then, the government, instead of forcing A to repay B or to work at forced labor until that debt is paid, forces B, the victim, to pay taxes to support the criminal in prison for ten or twenty years' time. Where in the world is the justice here?"

Me and my opponent see the same problem. Let's examine the different approaches. I say we should beat the hell out of them with a stick so they can get back out there and into the workforce to pay their debts.

He says;

"The prison system should be reformed to force inmates to work until their debt to their victims is repaid"

Con we live in a free society and what you're advocating is slave labor. This is a moral abomination. You want to talk about the image beating a black man brings to mind, what about the images that enslaving a black man bring to mind?

My opponent might call this hyperbole, but it isn't.

""Pay scale for federal prisoners who work outside of UNICOR in prison maintenance, in dollars per hour: $0.12-$0.40
"Minimum wage in Haiti in dollars per hour: $0.30
"Percent of federal prisoner-workers who work for UNICOR rather than in prison maintenance: 25%
"Minimum UNICOR wage, in dollars per hour: $0.23
"Maximum UNICOR wage, in dollars per hour: $1.15"

That's the numbers you can continue to expect should my opponent's alternative to caning see the light of day.

My opponent does bring up Norway's prison system, but it actually conflicts with something he said in his first premise. If I'm being too nice by beating some murderers with a stick than he is being too nice by putting them in a Norwegian type prison.

If anyone takes a look at my opponent's source they'll see that Norwegian prisons look like a vacation resort.[3] The first picture you see is of an inmate sunbathing in a lounge chair on a deck.

I tried to find out the cost of using this type of prison and if it would be a reasonable thing to do in America. Halden prison in Norway cost them 252 million dollars to build and only houses a few hundred prisoners.[4]

This type of prison reform in America wouldn't work. It's too expensive, too soft and not a deterrent to crime.

[2] (numbers pulled from article with good citations)


Thanks, Wylted.

=Aff case=

The Aff case only goes two possible ways, and either way you vote neg. Wylted has finally given a plan of action as to how we are going to implement caning in the United States. Up until this point, I had assumed there would be some kind of mandate forcing the justice system into giving all convicts a choice as implied in the first round, but wylted now chooses to argue that judges make the decision to allow caning or not while considering the "human element" and statistics. First, do not allow him to get away with this. In the first round, he heavily implied that other than a handful of extremely dangerous people all criminals would get the option of caning. His backtracking now completely shifts the impacts I argued in my case. Secondly, he just lost every single one of his impacts. There is absolutely no way that caning would become a popular element in the justice system as caning would be politically toxic.

Not only would it appear barbaric and cruel to the average voter and racist to a huge subset of them, but judges would not give criminals a pass using caning for the same reasons that judges continue to hand down long prison sentences--to protect their political careers. Scott Alexander explains[1]: "...ever-increasing prison terms are unfair to inmates and unfair to the society that has to pay for them. Politicans are unwilling to do anything about them because they don’t want to look “soft on crime”, and if a single inmate whom they helped release ever does anything bad (and statistically one of them will have to) it will be all over the airwaves as “Convict released by Congressman’s policies kills family of five, how can the Congressman even sleep at night let alone claim he deserves reelection?”. So even if decreasing prison populations would be good policy – and it is – it will be very difficult to implement."

The only way to fix the prison system in the United States is to work within the system and do what we can under realistic constraints. The case could easily be made to voters that criminalizing drugs is, overall, a bad policy and leads to more violence in society--things are already moving in that direction. Convincing voters that we should go back to a penalty civilized countries have abolished for centuries and is soft on crime compared to a prison term will be incredibly difficult.

He later argues against my point on the death penalty that juries should have the option to eliminate the caning option. First, he's being inconsistent. Who decides, the judge or the jury? You simply can't vote aff in the absence of any kind of coherent plan. Secondly, he just lost all of his impacts again because jury trials only constitute about 5% of criminal trials in the United States[2] so if it's up to juries, few cases will have the option on the table and even fewer will implement it.

He's also *still* not said *how* we are going to determine who is a danger to society or not. It's not worth the risk of letting murderers off--if we're basing this off of statistics, murderers and rapists have extremely low 3 year recidivism rates of 1.2% and 2.5% respectively[3]. I contend that letting murderers off with a spanking is a moral abomination.

The second way the Aff case goes is that you ignore any need for a plan and just take the impacts at face value. The *only* possible way for Wylted to still win the debate is to have impacts for caning so powerful that they override the need for a plan of action. The reason Wylted still loses here is because he never made any argument as to why caning would be better. Caning avoids the unique disadvantages of prison, sure, but he made no argument as to why it's good in it's own right. He should have given some kind of comparison between countries that use caning and those who don't but he didn't and, in his last round, he can't. You have no reason to think caning will be better so you vote Neg.

With that said, I'll now do a line by line rebuttal of his case, but you shouldn't read it--you're already voting neg because Wylted has failed to do what he needed to win the debate.


This is easily outweighed by the social costs of having a justice system that doesn't actually punish criminals. Moreover, since I immediately free about 20% of the prison population and gain around $47 billion in revenue annually, I account for about 85% of these costs. He talks about how there are lots of non violent criminals behind bars, except the single largest subset of non violent crime in state prisons is property crime[4], the same kinds of crimes that he himself offered as examples of crimes with high recidivism rates we wouldn't give the caning option to. Indeed, since there's no way juries/judge/some system he hasn't explained yet would give the caning option to violent criminals and he's ruled out giving it to property violators, the only two kinds of offenses he could possibly use caning for are drug offenses and public order offenses. I have already shown why I have a better plan regarding drugs, and public order offenses such as DUI rarely get lengthy prison terms so he isn't saving very much money anyway.

It's not like Wylted can just abolish the entire prison system--I had assumed that *all* convicts with a few exceptions would get the caning option like the first round implies. Since they apparently don't, he's probably not going to be saving much money at all. The costs argument swings solidly in my favor as I without a doubt save and make the taxpayer a quantifiable amount of green.

Felon university

First, a good deal of the reason these kinds of impacts happen is because the prison system mixes violent and dangerous criminals with those who've only made a mistake. Because I free up about 20% of prison space, we can afford now to do some serious reshuffling and keep violent prisoners away from non violent ones.

Wylted then shoots himself in the foot. In his attempt to show how bad the prison system is, he mentions that there's significant evidence to suggest that keeping people under house arrest using electronic monitoring reduces recidivism. Let's do that instead of doing caning and hoping it works. Vote Con.

Social considerations

It is indeed unfortunate that some children have to suffer because of their parents actions, but this is no reason to let their parents off without punishment. Indeed, I could make the same arguments my opponent does to argue for abolishing punishment in general. Moreover since Wylted decided to backtrack and argue that it's actually the judge/juries choice and not the criminals choice and I've shown why judges and juries will never choose to cane, he loses all of his impacts here. Ending the drug war would do a lot more to help society both in America and abroad by ending the governments war on the black community and ending the conflicts that have killed tens of thousands of innocents as the cartels and governments grapple for power over territory.

=My case=

I. Morality of punishment

Wylted shows a video of a person being caned and says it's really painful. First of all, there's no way that caning petty criminals in such a way that all of the skin on their buttocks is removed would be allowed under the 8th amendment--SCOTUS doesn't even let us painlessly execute a vicious and cruel child rapist[5]. Any caning used in America would be far more mild. Secondly, even if you take this at face value if I had a choice between that punishment of life imprisonment I would choose to be caned in a fraction of a second and I'm not nearly as tough as most criminals. There is simply no way around it, allowing murderers and rapists to get off with a mere caning is a moral abomination the likes of which should be enough to fill anyone who has a sense of justice with righteous indignation.

II. The death penalty

The substance of this contention is largely gone once Wylted decided to change his position--and I still contend that the debate ought to be judged under the assumption that every criminal who isn't an immediate threat to society--which includes most murderers-- is given the caning option, but Wylted makes some really turnable responses.

For one, he suggests with eagerness that since we now have caning as a punishment juries would be okay with discarding the ancient, sacred, and immutable legal principle that the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order for juries to convict. I don't even know where to begin with how problematic this is--he argues that it would be preferable to have "some" justice in these "fuzzy" cases. The very reason these cases are "fuzzy" is because the prosecution failed to prove its case! Pro is seriously advocating that we should subject people to a painful punishment and give them a felony on their record when they were not proven guilty just to be safe. Vote Con.

III. My counterplans

Pro concedes we should legalize drugs. Vote Con. He concedes to the unique impacts in my case that outweigh everything he has by several orders of magnitude.

Pro also says that forcing criminals to work is slavery and we live in a "free" society. We actually live in a society where penal slavery is protected under the 13th amendment[6]. He argues that criminals don't make much, but the idea is there would be no min or max wage but rather they would be paid the market value of their work. Besides, even with low wages forcing them to pay back their victims is preferable to the status quo. Prisoners should be forced to take responsibility by repaying their victims.

Wylted misunderstands the point of the Norway example--we should not follow their lead in aesthetics, but rather in the philosophy of punishment where rehabilitation is valued and prisoners are treated as persons. This is the true cause of their low recidivism rate.


Debate Round No. 3


I think my opponent misunderstood my case.

"wylted now chooses to argue that judges make the decision to allow caning or not while considering the "human element" and statistics."

I refer my opponent to my round 1 statement;

"I propose judicial caning as an alternative to sentencing as a punishment for criminal convictions. It will be optional for criminals who are not a grave an imminent threat to society"

Clearly I was outlining a system that keeps the human element in the decision making, which is something we do now. Caning is the default option allowed to criminals as an alternative to sentencing judges would be required to evaluate whether a criminal is a grave and imminent threat to society. The judge would have to use a mix of raw data and common sense to determine if somebody is a threat and should have the default option removed.

My opponent then goes on to quote Scott Alexander.

".ever-increasing prison terms are unfair to inmates and unfair to the society that has to pay for them."

My case is the one that offers a solution to long prison sentences.Giving judges a guidelines as to how to avoid letting the most dangerous criminals go.

"judges would not give criminals a pass using caning for the same reasons that judges continue to hand down long prison sentences"

This is simply not true. Judges would have to violate the law by refusing to use the guidelines mandated by the new caning policy. I think after watching the caning video that judges on all sides of the political spectrum would be on board for the new policy. Not that their personal opinion matters in this regard. They're still obligated to follow the guidelines.

The hard on crime conservative judges won't see caning as a slap on the wrist(Again watch the video). While their liberal counterparts will see caning as the lesser of 2 evils which again is optional for the criminal while also being better for society as a whole in terms of recidivism rate, social considerations and cost to the public.

My opponent argues that society should have reduced incarceration rates and times. Even going as far as providing expert and peer reviewed studies to back up his opinion.

However when I give a suitable bipartisan alternative to this he argues that judges would simply refuse to follow the law in implementing this, which would require a judge to consider every criminal a grave an imminent threat to society.

This is absurd and it's very unlikely that those judges would be the norm should they even exist, which means my alternative is still better than anything he suggested.

"Who decides, the judge or the jury?"

This is rather obvious and I was tempted just to skip over it to save space. In jury trials the jury decides based on the standards I presented in round 1. In non jury trials the judge will decide.


Rhetoric- language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content. (Google definition)

All good debator's use rhetoric to win debates, but Thett is going overboard and is depending almost entirely on it and other persuasion techniques that actually have nothing to do with who made a more logical argument.

My opponents repeated statements along the lines of;

"You're voting con"

And several variations of this. It's a variation of argument ad populum or a propaganda technique known as bandwagoning. Bandwagoning basically assumes victory as it uses subtle social pressure to convince you to vote in his favor.

He also uses an informal type of rhetoric that politicians like to use that I call taking a stance without taking a stance. Thett opposes my argument in every possible way.

That states argues that my position is bad because it ends up causing increased prison sentences. This is a statement that is completely without foundation but it's also one in conflict with his other argument. His other argument against my position is that it let's criminals off easy (again refer to video).

What's your argument Thett? Is increased punishment for criminals caused by this a good reason to oppose this? Or, is decreased punishment for criminals a good reason to oppose this?

My opponent uses other rhetorical techniques such as referring to caning as a spanking, but those are relatively harmless. I really just take issue with the 2 I mentioned.


My plan is clearly superior to my opponent's here and is more cost effective as well as humane an also more effective at reducing crime rates as both me and my opponent's sources reveal. When judging this category the voters have to weight this in my advantage. As all my opponent's case does is mitigate my advantages, while the advantages still stay in place.


"Wylted then shoots himself in the foot. In his attempt to show how bad the prison system is, he mentions that there's significant evidence to suggest that keeping people under house arrest using electronic monitoring reduces recidivism. Let's do that instead of doing caning and hoping it works."

We can't and for the same reasons you mentioned in round 2 under the section titled MORAL ABOMINATION. Unlike caning, this is a slap on the wrist.

In this section as in most me and my opponent are using the same rhetorical device of agreeing with a lot of each other's premises. Unfortunately for him the premises do more to support my case than his. We saw under cost that his case doesn't save as much money as mine.

In this section he argues that his case seperates small time criminals from big time criminals and stops them from getting worse. Sense I agree with him about legalizing drugs my case actually keeps more small time criminals from mingling with the worst of the lot and is more effective.

His whole case is built around mitigating the premises of my case, but that's all they do mitigate. My case still provides bigger benefits than his.

I think my opponent made a huge error in accepting my premises and trying to find a more reasonable approach, and that's because my approach is tailor made to address those problems, while his is just made from some preset political ideology (libertarianism not that ther is anything wrong with that).


"It is indeed unfortunate that some children have to suffer because of their parents actions, but this is no reason to let their parents off without punishment."

This statement is absurd. Caning is punishment. As far as everything else is concerned my opponents proposed change to the status quo only mitigates the benefits my case has in ending the punishment of these children, families and communities that took no part in this crime.



"Wylted shows a video of a person being caned and says it's really painful. First of all, there's no way that caning petty criminals in such a way that all of the skin on their buttocks is removed would be allowed under the 8th amendment"

Honestly the entire reason why I proposed to make this voluntary was to get around the 8th amendment issues. Also saying this is cruel and unusual while saying you'd prefer it to life in prison is an oxymoron. If the status quo is allowed under the 8th amendment and you'd prefer caning to it, than I'd say that caning is less "cruel and unusual" than the status quo.

Also this concept of justice is being served with the action of the caning. Also I can't find anything wrong with caning a murderer and letting him go if he is unlikely to reoffend.

Maybe I'm dense but if the punishment is there and the offender isn't likely to murder again I can't see the benefit of killing him. Is it just to satisfy this outdated eye for an eye philosophy? Or, is it something worse? Justice is being served by caning, so is this just some primal vengeful lust for blood, that needs satisfying? Feel free to answer that with some sort of appeal to emotion.

He was punished for his crime and learned his lesson. What else does society want?


"For one, he suggests with eagerness that since we now have caning as a punishment juries would be okay with discarding the ancient, sacred, and immutable legal principle that the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order for juries to convict."

I kinda knew this could easily been misconstrued as something other than what I intended. The term reasonable doubt is kinda fuzzy it's self. We all instinctively know it's easier for a jury to find reasonable doubt in a murder case than any other type of case. This means that jurors are essentially expanding their definition of the word reasonable to avoid the massive guilt that would come with wrongfully sending somebody away for life.

I was essentially saying that it would be reasonable to believe that jurors would have a more consistent view (and therefore more fair view) of reasonable doubt. In certain cases where the jury has expanded their definition of reasonable doubt, it might be reasonable to expect that with caning on the table they'll be more inclined to give a consistent and fair verdict, and criminals who otherwise would have gotten away with murder are now punished.


Thett has merely mitigated the positive effects of caning with his counter plan. Caning would be a huge improvement under the status quo and works better than his plan alone if implemented along side it. Con has also given an inconsistent and incoherent attack on caning calling it too brutal when it benefits his case to do so and mocking it as a spanking or slap on the wrist when that's convenient to his case.

Thank you Thett for participating in this debate and thanks to the readers and voters for taking the time to read it.


=Aff case=

This debate breaks down really, really simply.

You vote Con because Pro provides no coherent explanation of how caning is actually going to be implemented until the last round and his plan fails to actually gain him any advantage. Let's look at the flaws I pointed out in round three, and how they still apply. First, Wylted tries to get around the fact that no judge is going to award the sentence of caning to an inmate for the same reason that other politicians are afraid of being seen as soft on crime--the moment someone they cane instead of imprison hurts someone, political opponents will seize upon it and attack them, slapping them with a very potent label that has meant political death to many a politician.

Wylted says that judges will have to follow guidelines to determine if criminals are "grave or imminent"--first of all, who writes these guidelines? The people who write the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate[1]--every politician involved will ensure that the people appointed write guidelines to let as few people be caned as possible, lest the voters rage over crime come down on them. Secondly, Wylted is pretty inconsistent here. The judge is allowed to use "common sense"--literally the Judge's personal opinion-- along with "raw data", but still has to follow mandated guidelines without the autonomy to reject caning as a punishment. All this while somehow keeping the human element in while also disallowing the judge from having any personal opinion but also allowing the use of what Wylted terms "common sense"? It simply makes no sense--contrary to my opponents accusations of rhetoric, I just genuinely have absolutely no clue what he's arguing here and what kind of system we're supposed to be working with. No rational voter in the real world would vote for a plan that they didn't understand, and neither should the voters here.

Moreover, even if you buy his argument and grant him the impact of caning actually becoming a widespread punishment you still vote Con because, as I pointed out, letting off murderers and rapists--even if they pose no threat to society-- with a spanking is a moral abomination. Prefer my analysis of the multipronged purpose of the criminal justice system to both deter crime and to punish lawbreakers.

Wylted tries to dismiss my argument that the Supreme Court would characterize the type of caning he brought up in round three as cruel and unusual by calling it an oxymoron because I would choose it over life imprisonment. First, remember that he's advocating this penalty for mostly non violent drug offenders and public order offenders like prostitutes--there's no way SCOTUS would okay a vicious beating in these cases when they're too squeamish to allow the state to painlessly put to death a vicious child rapist. Secondly, he doesn't understand what the Supreme Court looks at when it evaluates what is Cruel and Unusual punishment--The American Bar Association[2] explains that SCOTUS looks at what it terms "evolving standards of decency" to as it's eight amendment litmus test. This is why the Supreme Court upheld the execution of juveniles as constitutional in 1989, only to strike it down in 2005, because in that period 6 states had abolished the death penalty for juveniles by nearly unanimous votes--hence showing how standards of decency had evolved during the period. Considering that the last flogging in the United States was over 60 years ago[3], SCOTUS could easily reject the practice of judicial corporal punishment based on the fact that standards of decency have already evolved way past it. SCOTUS would be far more likely to reject the caning option if it's as painful my opponent advocates, and politicians would never allow it. The only form of caning possible in the United States would be of a much milder variety.

Remember also that Wylted did not dispute my analysis in the last round that he can't win because he never gave us any evidence that caning would be any better than imprisonment. There are countries which use caning--he should've shown how great caning works for them. He didn't, so you can't rush into a huge change in the system based off no evidence whatsoever.

Pro argues that my counterplan of using electronic monitoring as it's a "slap on the hand" but it could be used in certain cases where the criminals are deemed not a danger to society but we still want to properly punish them by keeping them in confinement. Kind of like the exact thing my opponent is advocating, except that there's actual evidence suggesting that EMT reduces recidivism, and absolutely nothing to suggest that caning does. If you buy all of my opponents arguments, you still vote Con because we should have the same system except confine people to house arrest using EMT because, like Wylted pointed out, it works better than prison. He's given us no reason to think that caning would work better than prison.

And indeed, as I've argued before recidivism would go absolutely through the roof if criminals were given the option of a caning which we know due to political realities would not be very brutal at all.

Pro concedes that by separating the small fry from the hardened criminals now that I've reduced the prison population by a fifth I solve most of the impact of teaching criminals to be better criminals. His only argument is that I'm only mitigating his impacts, except my case solves for his harms while having unique benefits of its own that far outweigh which I'll talk about when we get to my case.

Pros argument about social considerations is bunk--remember, I solve *more* social problems by ending the drug war than he does by reducing the prison population because my impacts effect places far outside the United States. Affirming is continuing the drug war that's cost over 100,000 lives in Mexico alone--it's hard to vote Pro here when he's addressing the symptom rather than the disease that's destroying poor communities all around the globe. I solve for this.

Wylted's case hinges on the fact that he's reducing the prison population a lot but, like I've shown, he probably won't reduce it all that much more than me. Like I argued, it's incredibly unlikely that juries or judges will *ever* let any violent criminals get off with caning so the only people it's possible will get it are non violent criminals. The problem for Wylted here is that he argued that we should look at the statistics and the statistics show that the biggest subset of non violent offenders besides drug offenders (who are covered under my case) are property offenders who, according to his own evidence, have a huge recidivism rate. Public order offenders account for virtually all of the others and they generally don't get large sentences so he isn't saving much money at all. Compare these minuscule, unquanitifed cost savings to the $46.7 billion in revenue I bring in.

=Neg case=

Punishment theory/Death penalty

Wylted's argument here consists of seriously advocating letting a murderer or a rapist go with a mere spanking which makes a mockery of punishment--the reason that societies always implement some kind of criminal justice system is because they believe that certain individuals *deserve* punishment. Wylted tries to argue this is some outdated "eye for an eye" type idea, but I don't think it's a stretch at all to say that the entire purpose of prosecuting lawbreakers is because we, as a society, have come to the conclusion that these individuals are worthy of retribution. Indeed, Wylted describes this contention as some kind of appeal to emotion, but he seriously underestimates the necessity of punishment in a society. As the great sociologist Robert Nisbet explains, with murder[4]: "The impact goes far beyond the victim; it goes to family and kindred, indeed to the entire village or town. Tensions compounded of fear, dread, pity, anger, desire for revenge mount quickly and steadily among the inhabitants. A life has been foully taken, a sacred value violated. The tensions become higher as the search takes places, still higher when the murderer is captured and found guilty. Only with his just punishment do the tensions within the locality subside."

Indeed, I think it's safe to assume that under Wylted's plan, most murderers given a prison sentence would get off with a spanking. This is a slap in the face to the victims family and their community, as well as an invitation for more people to commit murder when they see the penalty is so light. Remember the justice system has the twin goals of reducing crime and gaining justice. Wylted's plan fails on both sides.

You can extend my death penalty impacts from the second round--the debate is very confusing because Wylted never made a coherent plan, but basically the point is that even if you buy his case and grant him the caning option to murderers usage of the death penalty would absolutely skyrocket. He never argued against the harms of this.

Wylted argues once again that it would be good to allow juries to convict when the prosecution failed to prove its case because the penalty is so light. Not only is this a tacit concession that his penalty is ridiculously light, but it's unfair to convict someone when the evidence isn't there just to be safe.


Wylted doesn't argue against either of these in his last round and he never argued against their positive impacts. They are dropped and therefore conceded. You have better evidence to suggest that legalizing drugs and treating inmates humanely and having them pay back their victims helps society more than caning, so my plan is to be preferred.

The resolution is negated.


4. Nisbet, Robert. "Crime and Punishment." Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary. Cambridge: Harvard U, 1982. Print.

Debate Round No. 4
132 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Wylted 3 years ago
I'm going to go ahead and try to win that one.
Posted by Jellon 3 years ago
If you lose your debate to me quickly, I might have enough elo to vote for you on this one. ;)
I wanted to vote for you on this one...
Posted by Wylted 3 years ago
Thanks for the advice.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
I'd agree with that assessment, Wylted. Time allocation (or in this case space allocation) is a difficult thing to manage when there's a lot of arguments on the table, and spotting which arguments is the most important and therefore require the most time can be difficult, even in retrospect. I still haven't mastered it, and what's worse for me, the two styles of debate I know best conflict heavily on how one should spend their time (line by line vs. biggest arguments only). I still fall back into old habits, though it's easier on here to pick and choose.

I'm glad you appreciate my RFD, and it seems that the main takeaway should be stylistic, for both of you. However, in both cases, I think you shouldn't take it too harshly. Thett, if you're going to run the stranger arguments, go full bore on that. Really take the time to explain them and make them huge sticking points in the debate. The weird stuff can be some of the best. And Wylted, I'd say if you're going to run such a controversial case, don't try to hedge by putting the decision for implementation in someone else's hands. Make it clear who's getting it, and that they'll have no choice. It gives your opponent obvious disads, but that makes preparation easier for you, not to mention it makes your link story so much more solid. Sometimes, it's best to go balls out on a res like this. You may not change a lot of minds, but you can win hearts.
Posted by Wylted 3 years ago
I did make that argument. I think I devoted a sentence to it. I know it's better in the form of rhetoric to spend more time on the point, but I just feel once it's said I can move on and the judges will catch it.

Whiteflame did actually catch it but I guess didn't count it because I bring it up an don't elaborate on it. I think My problem is trying to cover every single angle which means I'm not giving the best arguments the time and attention they need.

Not that I disagree with any RFD, but I think his actually shows me where to improve as far as style and that's what the other's are missing.
Posted by thett3 3 years ago

Whiteflame pointed out the response you could've made against the drug argument which was that it isn't mutually exclusive with your plan. I had a few responses prepped out in case you made this argument, but I don't think I would've been able to overcome it.

I kinda regret making weird arguments in this debate. I should've focused on the stock arguments to be expected like justice, cruel and unusual punishment, that sort of thing. I wanted to keep the debate interesting and, as a result, almost lost by making really weird arguments.
Posted by thett3 3 years ago
Thank you fort hat RFD, Whiteflame. Consider my hat officially tipped
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
(Pt. 1)


Though this debate involved a lot of good arguments, confusion reigns at the end. Much as I feel both debaters establish solid cases from the outset, I think that further rounds manage to confuse each debater's cases to the point that rebuttals become uncertain things with odd effects on the impact level.

Probably the biggest issue is the uncertainty on the plans presented by both debaters " yes, this isn't just Wylted's problem, though he certainly starts it.

Pro needs to start the debate off by making it very, very clear what his case is and how this system would function. I personally wouldn't have had a problem with that explanation coming in R1, appearing alongside the definitions. A policy change like this requires a substantial amount of explanation. Specifically, I need to see the following:

1. Who is given the choice of implementation?
2. Under what circumstances are they allowed to do this?
3. What new legal doctrine would be put in place to ensure that it's implemented?
4. Would anyone currently imprisoned be allowed to commute their sentences using caning?
5. How would the severity of the caning be monitored?
6. Would that severity be increased for different infractions?

There are more questions, but these are among the most pertinent. Some of these questions were answered as the debate went on, but only one or two got full answers in R2 (or, at least, answers that weren't disputed directly). In each case, even all the way to the end of the debate, I'm not quite sure I have a solid answer to any of these questions. The vagueness of the case makes it a moving target, and makes it problematic to respond.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
(Pt. 2)

Con needs to limit his counterplan (CP), not to mention be very careful with his choices here. The "legalize drugs" CP is not mutually exclusive, something Pro pointed out (albeit without the rhetoric or full explanation of what that means). Essentially, a CP would need to be something that cannot be implemented at the same time as the plan. I find this to be a reasonable thing to use to ameliorate the harms presented by Pro in R2, as well as solve for other harms, but I don't see a reason why they cannot be implemented together. However, as Pro is not clear on why it matters that they can be implemented together, I do take it into some consideration.

The problem is that I then see a number of other CPs. I see this "repay their debt" CP, which is never really fleshed out until R3 anyway, and still lacks some explanation by the end of the debate. I see the Norway approach, but it's never specified what the change in emphasis would alter in terms of actual policy, and Con even admits in R3 that this is just a change in philosophy. Then, in R3, I see yet another CP regarding house arrests. All of these CPs come off as flippant, presented just to show that there are alternate routes to solving some of the same problems. Many of these even seem to conflict in some ways. Maybe the point was to present several distinct CPs to show that caning is far from the only solution to the problems Pro presented, but all it ends up doing is confounding Con's case to the point that I'm not sure what his advocacy is by the end of the debate. Maybe it's just my debate background talking, but when I see a CP, I like to see that CP become their advocacy, and not just act as something to show that alternatives exist.

So both sides really needed to shore up their advocacies here. A bit of clarity in the cases implemented this debate would have gone a long way.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
(Pt. 3)

I'm going to go through each of the arguments given by each side and evaluate how they stand by the end of the debate, and then weigh the resulting impacts against each other.

Pro's arguments:

Probably the biggest problem I have with Pro's case is that all of its impacts are based in negating the harms of the current system. It's a negative case, one without any positive impacts that stand alone. I'm surprised you didn't extoll the graces of corporal punishment, which seemed like the most obvious source of impacts here. Especially when Con spends a good deal of time on justice, and both of you focus so heavily on recidivism, it seemed like an easy source of arguments. Lacking that, your case depends entirely on the elimination, or at least a substantial amelioration, of harms in status quo. So it's not surprising that Con spends much of his time attacking your links, but I'll get into that as I go through it.

Costs: Pro gives me enough analysis to know that incarceration costs are high. The question then becomes, how much are these costs reduced by implementing a system of corporal punishment as an alternative? On this, there's some uncertainty. This point could have been garnered securely if caning had replaced the majority of incarcerations, but I'm given little reason to believe that's the case. It solely replaces instances of incarceration for criminals who committed crimes for which there is a limited likelihood of recidivism. This will come into play later to a larger extent, but I get very little idea of how many incarcerations are likely to be shifted to canings. Con gives me a lot of analysis as to why the shift is likely to be slow and minimal based off of political reasoning and the wishes of the victims' families as well. As such, I believe that the number of canings will be relatively small, and thus that the cost savings aren't nearly going to be $74 billion a year.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 3 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments.
Vote Placed by iamanatheistandthisiswhy 3 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: The winner in this debate is in my opinion clearly Pro. The reason I believe this is that both Pros and Cons argument for a better prison system rely on SCOTUS changing major laws i.e. caning versus drug legalization. However, Con never truly proved that drugs will bring down crime rates except for users incarceration, but instead had to rely on pointing out the fact that in Mexico it will result in less violence. Firstly, that was not supported by any evidence and secondly this a debate about the USA not Mexico. I also found Cons constant tall tales that Pro was misrepresenting the proposition fallacious as it was not in the least. The proposition was well worded and Pro pointed this out multiple times. Honestly at times when reading Cons arguments I was wondering if we were reading the same arguments by Pro. For these reasons I vote Pro.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 3 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by YYW 3 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Comments.