The Instigator
Pro (for)
4 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
8 Points

Rehabilitation is more important than punishment

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/4/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,707 times Debate No: 18176
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (3)




Rehabilitation is more important than rehabilitation.

Round 1 is just for acceptance.



Hi, i'm new here.
Debate Round No. 1


I want to welcome my opponent to and wish you the best of luck in this debate. This is a very important issue. Is rehabilitation more important or is punishment more important?

Contention 1: Deterrence

The argument from deterrence is often made that a threat of punishment is necessary to deter criminal activity. Here is the problem: The evidence indicates the exact opposite. Murder rates are far higher in the US states that execute murders than those that do not [1]. Regarding regular crimes, the "get tough" approach that began to be adopted in the 70's has seen prison population soar [2] [3].

One final note that the failure of prisons to deter crime, we only need to look at the extent of crime that goes on inside prison. Prison violence has never been higher [4]

Contention 2: Criminalisation

The penal systems that are in existence today place the vunerable drug addicts and desperate shoplifters amongst the sociopaths and "dregs" of society.

Whatever the specifics, what is known is that the most people who leave prison, end up going back in it again [5]. Research in the UK has found that "reoffending is higher amongst criminals who are locked up than do community sentences--with 74% of ex-inmates at one prison convicted again within a year." [6]

Contention 3: Economy

Community sentences and rehab are invariably far cheaper than prison sentences. To take two examples, here are costs in the UK [8] and in North Carolina [9] This is especially significant as these kind of programs have also been shown to be more effective at reducing recidivism than prison sentences.

Over to con. In order for my opponent to win this debate, my opponent must show that punishment is equal to or greater than rehabilitation.



Special thanks to feverish


Point of order: You do not generate the win condition of a debate, that is left to verisimilitude and those who created the least flaws and fallacies.

Rebuttal 1: Deterrence
- You argument starts with your main theory: "The evidence indicates the exact opposite." which ideally would be a conclusion from the evidence and thus come after it, this would follow scientific method, and this claim is not supported by the evidence.
- "Murder rates are far higher in the US states that execute murderers than those that do not" This is a cause an effect confusion fallacy. Does the execution cause high crime or does the high crime warrant the execution? You have yet to describe a method by which this would work. Most likely you would have to show statistics from before 1990 to compare, but this would also be of limited use.

Rebuttal 2: Criminalisation
- Your statement appears to say that we should essentially make the sentence more proportionate to the crime so that the more comparatively honest or vulnerable will not be forced into contact with the more hardened criminals. If you'll forgive my interpretation, that should mean that more hardened criminals receive harder sentences, the hardest of all would of course be the death sentence.
- You suggest that community sentences may stop re-offence. You may be correct, however this does detract from the fact that some people will inevitably earn themselves the death penalty, either by 3 strikes, or one heinous act.

Rebuttal 3: Economy
- "Community sentences and rehab are invariably far cheaper than prison sentences." You appear to be conducting a cost/benefit analysis of the two options. Again, you may be correct, if your sources were more reliable. However this is not simply a question of going for the cheapest option, for that would probably be gassing every criminal, similar to Hitlers Germany. Instead it is about a proportionate response, and that will be the line of my argument.
- You will forgive me if I point out that your argument no longer seems to be about execution, but is now the merits of community sentences.

[1] After analysis of the first time line in your source, I concluded:
- This is a second hand source, and thus its credibility is called into question.
- The murder rate is superfluously represented as a number per 100,000 and percentage in an attempt to conceal the real number of people dieing for some reason. This is particularly prominent for states which have a massive difference in population, such as Delaware's 864,764 scoring 4.3 and Texas's 23million scoring 5.6
- The source data is said to come from official sources, but it actually comes from, indicating it is actually a 3rd hand source.
- Kansas is missing from some of the 1990 statistics.
- 1996 saw the largest increase in difference, by roughly 17%, and this continued thereafter. A quick google search reveals that 1996 saw the bombing of the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. And this is a state which uses the death penalty. Indicating that this is a possible reason for the sudden increase in disparity.
- The total murder rate number for the death penalty states in 1996 is 7.72 but in 1990 it is 9.5. By 2009 it has dropped to 5.26, Indicating that the total has actually decreased significantly from that at the start in execution states, but not as quickly as that in non execution states, which causes the widening disparity. A possible reason for this is that incarceration has increased, as it is more lucrative to private prisons to keep them alive. I think your source [2], may attest to this, and it is credible because it comes from the beuro of justice statistics.
- Every state saw a decrease between 1990 and 2007, except Ohio which saw an increase.

[3], [4], The new york times and USA today, are not highly credible sources. It has issues with all of the CRAVEN criteria of credibility; Reputation, Ability to See, Vested Interest, Expertise, Neutrality. None of these news papers appear to offer the sources of their information for cross analysis (am I wrong?)
- In relation to source [2] It is possible for prison crime to be expected to increase along with increased number of those being incarcerated.

The source does not appear to say anywhere:
"reoffending is higher amongst criminals who are locked up than do community sentences--with 74% of ex-inmates at one prison convicted again within a year."
[5] There is no citation to source [10] within the second paragraph.
[6] This source is subject to the same flaws as both [3] and [4], except the government statistics which it supposedly links to are also missing.

Hypothesis A: Punishment
In order to continue I must clarify the meaning of punishment. I will not go into legal terms as these are inherently biased and an appeal to authority.

The original term penalty stems from the Latin poena, meaning pain. That which must be paid as part of the punishment.
Thus, all punishments have an element of pain in them. This pain creates a sort of Pavlovian conditioning, reinforcing certain societal rules and standards, and this is what imprisonment hopes to achieve as part of rehabilitation.
It is very much like using the stick instead of the carrot, and hoping that the animal in question considers the absence of the stick, or the restriction of the carrot to be a driving force to change their behaviour. Humans are more complex and adaptable creatures than this hypothesizes suggests. But without this poena, it is hard to imagine how else they can be held accountable.

Hypothesis B: Control
They are also capable of self control. When someone fails to control themselves, or simply chooses not to, because it will result in a bigger reward, they should be punished. Many of those on death row have claimed either insanity or biological abnormalities such as a large adrenal gland, which make them violent and cause their loss of control. But ultimately the first diagnosis should have been from them, and if they could not help themselves then they should have found someone who could. The fact that they did not do this or chose not to results means that through inaction they chose a path which would lead them to conflict with the law. In essence the law provides a pseudo self control for those it deems as having none. Although weather it is correct or simply making a power play is another matter.

Hypothesis C: Evolution
As creatures evolve to fit their surroundings it is somewhat inevitable that there will be a human well adapted to criminal behaviour, the abnormally sized adrenal gland might be a symptom of this. So it is by punishment, that the dominant society regulates this evolution, so as to not end up with a situation where humans are predated by these others. They do this by limiting their economic activities, their ability to find suitable mates, and to generally remove them from vulnerable communities. They attempt to guarantee that action be met with consequences. In evolution, the fittest survives. A part of this process means it is necessary for some to die to prevent mutation, or at least to control their adaptation, making sure it is the most beneficial. It may transpire that these adaptations are viewed as positive. As for the question as to whom would be best positioned to judge this, the answer would most likely be Scientists, rather than the law or government.
Debate Round No. 2


Greatly apologize, but I have some unexpected chemistry work, math work, essays and school work that prevent me from debates. I apologize to my opponent and urge a CON vote.


Well it is a shame I'd have like to argued it.

I think my next point may have been shoring up the evolutionary argument with more evidence, and challenging you on the concept that you believe rehabilitation is better not for good reasons, such as; it best fits every situation (which it doesn't) but because YOU personally prefer it as an option for yourself, and believe that what you prefer should be made the standard for everyone. It is a bias, in favour of your own survival, I'll leave you with this quote:

"I feel for instance I have the right to do anything I please, but, if I do something that you don't like, I think you have the right to KILL ME, and where are you gonna find a better deal than that?" – George Carlin

But, perhaps we can have a different debate some other time.
Debate Round No. 3


Agreed. VOTE CON


Macroscope forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by tishe 7 years ago
What does that mean? Seriously, what?? I am new here. I am a newbie. Still,what does that mean? I am not even that stupid.
Posted by kohai 7 years ago
I am willing to consider the possibility, though it isnhighly unlikely for the Mosaic authorship
Posted by Winged 7 years ago
If you are not willing to at least consider the ideas and words of men who have spent their entire lives researching and studying the Bible to reach their conclusions, then you are stupid, as well as the reason that the horrors of history sadly repeat themselves. You refuse to learn the lessons of history and rather would prefer doing all you can to twist and alter it, until it matches your lifestyle.

I understand your personal grudge against the Bible, seeing as you are a homosexual (i am not insulting, or inciting you, this is inferred from your profile). But your personal grudge doesn't change it.

Don't let the opinions of others be your facts.
Posted by Winged 7 years ago
He dictated most of the books to another who wrote them. It is probable that this person simply gave the small account of his death so as to prevent a sudden unexpected end to the book.
Posted by Man-is-good 7 years ago
I suppose Moses wrote the part about himself dying...
Posted by kohai 7 years ago
Doesn't matter what those brainless men wrote.
Posted by Winged 7 years ago
No. I cannot argue this point better than a select few Bible commentators and could at best simply restate their arguements, you simply need to read what they wrote.

Matthew Henry
Albert Barnes
Adam Clarke
Robert Scofield
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by imabench 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: The Con broguth up how there are only correlations between states with the death penalty and muder rated, not a cause-effect relationship. Also Pro forfeited but he did have many sources so i gave him that
Vote Placed by DanT 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con won do to forfeit. But Pro had the better case.
Vote Placed by thett3 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: f