Make your own free website on
Starr's Mill - Panther Debate Team
Aff Ideas
Home | The Brag Sheet | 2006-2007 Season Results | Panther Debate Schedule | Parent Information | Extemp and OO | Public Forum Debate | Lincoln Douglas Debate




                The affirmative seemingly have the kinder, gentler position in this debate.  In general, it would seem to be a good idea to stress the humanitarian nature of this position.  While the negative rants and raves about criminals getting what they deserve, the affirmative should plea to the rest of society to hold us to a higher standard.  Gandhi one said, If we took an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we would all be blind and toothless.  Within this quotation is the sentiment that retribution produces only more retribution.  If we dont take some initiative to break this cycle of violence, then we are just as much to blame as the criminals.  Values like COMMUNITY, SOCIAL WELFARE, and LIFE all seem to be good values to strive for on the affirmative.





                A lot of my focus on the above examples has dealt with the issue of the death penalty, and that wasnt by accident.  This resolution is inherently about the controversial issue of capital punishment.  I think the death penalty is an absolute area that must be discussed for a few reasons:


                1:  The death penalty is controversial and debatable.  Since the primary audience of this book is debaters, then this is a good thing.


                2:  The death penalty encompasses all the major tenets of the resolution since it is a part of the U.S. criminal justice system.


                3:  It is probably the clearest delineation of ground.  The reason this is is that the death penalty is the epitome of punishment and the absolute antithesis of rehabilitation.  This would side step the we should do both debate because it is impossible to rehabilitate a dead person.


                4:  There are many current events that are revolving around this issue.  The United States is coming under pressure to sign onto an international ban of death penalty.  A recent execution of a Mexican immigrant is straining U.S.-Mexico relations.  States are instituting moratoriums because of recent DNA evidence clearing some people on death row. 


                The debate that might take place within a round, I think, would be an easy one to understand, vote on, and, most importantly, reach depth of analysis on.


                A few things the affirmative needs to remember.  First, you cannot just proclaim that the death penalty is bad; you must also show why rehabilitation is feasible (see page 22-23).  This means that advocating life in prison is not the ground allotted to the affirmative.  Although, this is where the temporal definition of ought to value comes in handy (see above).  The affirmative could argue that the criminal justice system ought to attempt rehab first, and if that fails should then punish the criminal.  The negative would then have to explain why we shouldnt even attempt rehabilitation in the first place.


                There are arguments that the affirmative should be prepared for.  First is the claim that the death penalty deters other criminals.  This is a hotly contested issue.  Many studies show that the average state with the death penalty has a higher crime rate than those without the death penalty.  In fact, if you want to crunch the numbers yourself, any U.S. almanac should have statistics of which states have the death penalty and what their crime rates are.  This area of argumentation is in no way a slam-dunk for either side, the evidence is going to determine who wins.


                Second is that rehabilitation costs too much.  The people making this claim often do not take into consideration the cost of automatic appeals that occur with a capital punishment case.  These appeals usually span decades and soak up a lot of taxpayer money in legal fees.  The negative has the interesting option of claiming that the chances of recidivism tip the scales in their favor as well as the fact that punishment is still possible if rehab fails (if the affirmative wants to argue that area).  But this just means that the negative will have to win that rehabilitation doesnt work, and if the affirmative doesnt have cards showing how rehab does work, then I cant help you.  But the easiest argument to make is that the cost is worth it.  Even if the negative proves that rehab is more costly, simple make the claim that a persons life should never have a price tag attached to it.  The very idea is disgusting.


                Third, but most unlikely, is that brainwashing is worse than death.  I think this is a fascinating argument, as long as the value isnt LIFE.  What this argument needs, though, are specifics describing the methods of rehabilitation, like drug therapy for example.  It may be a difficult argument to sell, but an interesting one nonetheless.  To answer this back on the affirmative it is beneficial to fight back specifics with specifics.  Talk about group therapy, one-on-one sessions with a qualified psychologist, how electroshock is no longer used, etc.  Also the claim that death is much more permanent than rehabilitation, so even if there is damage done, at least there is a chance to fix that damage.  Once you are dead, those chances are gone.


                Some of these arguments already have evidence within this book.  Read the cards below and arrange them however you feel they would work best.  There are other arguments not covered in this book, I am going to leave those up to you because I feel that other areas should be discussed.




                This is a fun area to debate because you get to make fun of hippies.  Just kidding.  But the issue of how to deal with drug usage in the United States is becoming one of the most talked in the media.  The U.S. has been offering Colombia assistance to fight the production and export of cocaine in the form of three billion dollars, also known as Plan Colombia.  It is difficult to see where or how this plan has been effective.  Not only has production not slowed, but also usage in the U.S. hasnt shown any effect either. But attacking the supply of drugs is only one way to address this problem, finding an effective way to attack to demand of drugs will also have an effect.  This supply-side perspective is within the realm of this resolution.


                Drug offenders in the U.S. are, by and large, sent to prison and are expected to recover from their effects on their own.  In fact, the largest population of criminals is sent to prison for non-violent drug offenses.  It seems strange that punishment would be the mode of thought to deal with drugs considering that the reason they are illegal in the first place is to protect us from the devastation of their addictive qualities.  If drugs are really so addictive, then why wouldnt our criminal justice system look for a way to treat the addiction instead of punishing someone whose only crime was committed on themselves?


                This is where the idea of rehabilitation clinics for non-violent drug offenders comes in.  There are many examples and studies of the positive effects that rehabilitation has on drug addiction.  The effectiveness surpasses prisons (which isnt difficult to do).  The reason for this is that there is a significant drug culture within prisons.  It is close to impossible to kick a habit when there is ample supply and there is even more pressure in buy drugs in prison than out. 


                Additionally, rehabilitation has proven to be less costly.  Examples of these clinics are found in the state of Nevada.  Nevada has reported greater effectiveness in the form of decreased recidivism and decreased cost due to the fact that less security measures are needed in a facility that houses only non-violent criminals.  All that is needed is to combine all of this information into supporting arguments in the case.


                In particular, I think that the value of justice with the criterion of constitutionality would benefit this position most.  Make the argument that prison-time for a non-violent offense is unjust under the cruel and unusual punishment protection found within.  The appropriate, and justified action to take when someone is convicted of such a crime would be to offer rehabilitation, not just to Charlie Sheen, but to everyone.




                This terms meaning was clarified in the movie The Shawshank Redemption.  Red, Morgan Freedmans character, explained that this meant when someone who had been in prison for so long that they had no ability to reestablish themselves in society.  A memorable quote from that movie is after Red is released; he says I cant even take a piss without asking permission.  Prison is a hard lifestyle to get used to.  It may be even more difficult to get used to society outside of prison.


                This position may sound general, and it is.  But there is certainly evidence out there to be found regarding the validity of this statement.  Institutionalization may be the leading cause of recidivism.  If a criminal knows that they can survive better inside prison than outside. 


                Rehabilitation, on the other hand, attempts to equip people with the tools and abilities to make it in the outside world.  This rehabilitation may take the form of job training, drug addiction treatment, psychological therapy, or a variety of others.  The goal of rehab is to have the person eventually leave and be successful after leaving.  I think the biggest difference between rehab and punishment is that if a person undergoes rehabilitation and fails, it is the states fault, but if a person is punished and they fail, it is the persons fault.  This approach to the criminal justice system just sounds more humane and could pull on those vital heartstrings of the judge.


                The responses from the negative may surround the argument that the criminal knew that they were committing a crime and did so through their own free will (the value of AUTONOMY or RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE might be good to attach to the top of case).  To say that they are the victims is 1) a disgusting disregard for the victim and the victims family (should there be a victim).  And 2) an unhealthy approach by saying that a person had no power over their decisions.  This is disempowering to that individual and others as well as inherently irresponsible. 




                This final area that I will discuss is outlined extensively in the AFFIRMATIVE CASE EVEIDENCE area of this book.  It deals with the focus of rehabilitation, rather than punishment of juvenile criminals.  This area is a significant one for a variety of reasons. 


                First is quantitatively.  This significance in and of itself can be seen in a few of ways.  First are just the shear numbers.  While I have read articles describing a recent downward trend as far as juvenile crime is concerned, those statistics are usually taken on a national level that disregard local fluctuations of crime data.  Also, even if the crime rate amongst juveniles is pointing downward now, it is still up compared to a few decades ago.  Meaning that it may just be a quiet moment in juvenile crime rates, making it a perfect time to change our focus to something more effective.  Finally, regardless of whether or not juvenile crime is going up or down, there is quantitatively enough of this crime to threaten every school that our children go to, which makes it significant enough to support the resolution in-and-of itself.


                Second is qualitatively.  Here it could be easily argued that juveniles are committing more and more heinous crimes against society.  One case that springs to mind is the story about two high school kids who killed their mother then chopped off her hands, feet and head in order to conceal her identity.  This was all in emulation of a recent Sopranos episode that did the same.  And ever since the Columbine tragedy, their have been reports to copy-cat shootings at high schools, middle schools and elementary schools all across the country.  Stories like this, even twenty years ago, were virtually non-existent. 


                But I think the best story to tell about the significance of this area of argumentation is the fact that juveniles are more likely to respond to influences that other, older people.  People under eighteen years of age are much less set in their ways and are, therefore, more open to change when it comes to their behaviors.  This means that the time to attempt rehabilitation is as early as possible.  This is an excellent way to integrate the temporal perspective of valuing one thing over another.  Remember, the temporal perspective says that a way to value one thing above something else is to engage it before something else. 


                In the context of this area of debate, the affirmative could say something like Because we value rehabilitation above punishment, we believe that a persons first encounter with the criminal justice system ought to be handled with rehabilitation in mind.  Therefore, we support the juvenile criminal justice system be one that supplies the tools for rehabilitation. 


This is an excellent answer back to those debaters on the negative who claim that focusing on one area of the debate is not sufficient to prove the resolution true.  In all honesty, this case accounts for all of the criminal justice system, it just asks us to value rehab above punishment by providing rehab earlier in the life of a person.

Enter supporting content here