Debate Info

Rehabilitation Punishment
Debate Score:6
Total Votes:6
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Argument Ratio

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 Rehabilitation (2)
 Punishment (2)

Debate Creator

flewk(1192) pic

What should be the purpose of the criminal justice system?

Another option? Both? 


Side Score: 4


Side Score: 2
3 points

Neither choice is the primary responsibility of a criminal justice system as a whole. The first area of the system is used to capture criminals. The second area is to administer justice to criminals and victims. The incarnation area of the system provides both punishment and rehabilitation opportunity

Side: Rehabilitation
flewk(1192) Disputed
1 point

Catching criminals is only the police part of law enforcement, not the primary responsibility. What about the prosecutors, judges, trials, and prisons?

The primary responsibility is probably enforcing the laws of society, hence the name. I am asking what should be the purpose of those laws?

What is this justice that you speak of administering?

Side: Punishment
1 point

Ideally the criminal justice system would be focused on rehabilitation and compensation. If we could rehabilitate a person in an instant, it wouldn't be sufficient. People need to be compensated for the injury against them, be it loss or damage. The tricky part is understanding what compensation is just compensation and what is simply retributive punishment. How would we determine just compensation for the loss of life of a loved one?

Side: Rehabilitation
1 point

I was actually just thinking about this the other day after listening to a podcast.

I think the focus of the criminal justice system right now is blameworthiness. The goal who is to find the person responsible for the crime, or in other words who to blame, and punish them with a justified penalty.

Blameworthiness seems to work, so that's all fine and dandy, we will just keep catching criminals, BUT what happens when that person was not in their "right mind" when committing the crime? Well, it turns out that with modern brain imaging you can see tumours in people brains, tumours that can sometimes cause irrational and irregular thoughts, which then cause irrational and irregular behaviours. In court, if you have a tumour in your brain that caused you to be out of your "right mind" while committing the crime, you can use that brain image of your tumour as a biological mitigator, completely removing the blame from the person to the tumour.

Think about that for a second. The only thing special about a tumour is its visibility; the fact that we can see a tumour with our modern brain imaging is what makes it special. What happens next? At the current rate of technological advancement in brain imaging techniques, in about 5-10 years we will be using xMRI scanners instead of fMRI scanners and we will be able to detect abnormalities at the neuronal level. There will be new psychological disorders of the neurocircuitry and we would be able to use those as biological mitigators in court as well.

The point is, we can't continue with this focus of blameworthiness because it will be too difficult to decide whether it was an abnormality in the brain that caused the crime or the person using the brain, for lack of an easier description.

I think the purpose of the judicial system is going to shift from blamworthiness to detecting the chance of future recidivism. We will eventually be able to detect, with significant accuracy, the likelihood that someone will committ a crime again. Those people who are the most likely to reoffend will need help, perhaps sessions of cognitive behaviour therapy to help change their brain chemistry, or maybe a microsurgery to rewire a few neural connections that shouldn't be there (we don't have this technology yet but I'm just speculating).

It's amazing how scientific discoveries can change how we conduct our human affairs.

Side: Punishment
flewk(1192) Clarified
1 point

Before we reach this point, we will probably have identified a few "criminal" genes. What about preventative measures that remove those genes from the gene pool?

Side: Rehabilitation
FatherGing(9) Clarified
1 point

I don't think it will be as simple as locating "criminal genes" because there are way too many other variables involved leading up to the criminal behaviour itself, but I do believe that the focus will shift from finding who is to blame after the crime to who is most likely to committ the crime in the first place.

As it stands, there are people in law enforcement who's job is to determine a criminal's likelihood of future recitivism. These people have had 35+ years experience in law enforcement and they are deemed to be the best at predicting this kind of behaviour. Right now these people are only about 50% accurate in their guess on whether the criminal will you may as well flip a coin. However, there is a new questionnaire that has been developed that is about 70% accurate in its predictions. This means that with a few well worded questions we can get to a point more significant than chance in determining future behaviour. When technology improves we will be able to see that an overdevelopment or underdevelopment of certain areas of the brain are perhaps more predictive, and once that number reaches 90...maybe 95% accuracy what then?

Are we going to live in a world where we are punishing criminals before they even commit a crime?

I think your idea of preventative measures will have to come into play here. If whatever causes criminal behaviour, whether it be the lack of self control or the desire to cause harm, is detectible then how do we get rid of it if we know it's there?

What kind of preventative measures would be appropriate? Do you think that the new punishment for a crime committed would be to turn that person into a non-criminal through brain surgery or something? What would that look like?

Side: Rehabilitation