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Binghamton Speech & Debate

Proposition: Hunter Atherton (Winston Churchill High School) vs. Opposition: Richard Chen (Cornell University)

Judge: Michael Schatz (University of Pennsylvania)

Resolution: This house believes that prisons should be abolished

  • Hunter Atherton
    Hunter Atherton

    Richard Chen
    Richard Chen
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    Speech Details

    Click on the other tabs to watch watch that speech.

    Posted at April 20, 2015 06:09:09PM EST by Hunter Atherton



    I will be adding my whole case for ease of clarity and understanding.
    Prisons are not the only way to deal with things. We must slowly phase it out and create a new social standard of justice using restitution instead of incarceration.

    This house affirms the abolition of prisons.

    Prisons are not a set in stone way for the world to abide by. The world must adapt to changing social conditions in order to best provide and deal with infractions to the set standard of rules.
    (FROM Abolish Prisons no date)
    Prisons used for punishment are a relatively new phenomenon, dating back less than 150 years. Mass incarceration in the U.S. is an even newer phenomenon dating back less than 30 years.
    Jails used for temporary confinement existed back to the start of history, but confinement as punishment were recent inventions developed as a more humane alternative to public ridicule, banishment or execution. Increasingly, especially since the 1970s, social and individual problems are less likely to be dealt with on the community level and are instead criminalized.
    Incarceration rates were stable in the United States from the 1930s to the 1970s at around 110 per 100,000. Since 1970, they have risen to about 700 per 100,000. The growth appears to have stabilized but is far above the rest of the world with only one close rival: Russia.
    When societies evolve, they change their means of social control. Not so long ago, it became unacceptable for society to put its citizens in stocks, or publicly dunk them in water, brand them or to burn them alive. Confinement as a form of punishment was an evolved step, and now it is time to move on to more evolved methods of dealing with social problems before we normalize not only incarceration but obscenely high levels of incarceration.
    I don't dispute that bad acts happen and that society needs to reduce bad acts. But we need to do so in a way that makes bad acts less -- not more -- likely to occur. The current reliance on incarceration is not reducing crime and the pain we inflict on our own citizens [we] threatens to erase any moral authority we wish to give our laws.
    I can hear the sputtering of thousands of my readers. "But what about bad people who can't be helped?" I'm not sure such people exist, because no one has ever seriously tried rehabilitation. But even my critics admit that such people are a small minority, so I am willing to compromise with critics and propose a more reasonable slogan than "Abolish Prisons."

    Abolish prison as we know it and adopt a new social construct that works better with our progressing society.
    (FROM Abolish Prisons no date)
    [Heres the plan.] Divert addicts to drug treatment not prison. Deal with people who are not immediately dangerous in their communities and offer meaningful treatment to those who are incarcerated. Invest in future positive acts instead of in past bad acts. Offer education and job training to all people who need it inside and outside of prison.
    Many European countries have incarceration rates under 100 per 100,000. In Japan, the rate is 40 per 100,000. Norway even has a short waiting list to get into prison. It's not true that these countries have less crime, they merely have a different response to crime.
    The United States should follow the lead of other countries with more reasonable incarceration rates. We should drop our incarceration rate to match that of Japan. The U.S. can use those 40 cells per 100,000 residents however it wishes: lots of short sentences or a few long ones. By the time we reach an incarceration rate of 40 per 100,000, I argue that prison won't be the same thing anymore.
    The experience may teach this country that incarceration is not the only answer to crime. And in the process I expect we will find that incarceration is not necessary for anyone.

    The government needs to adjust its policies to be able to accommodate and encourage the reintroduction back into society of criminals as the alternative to incarceration.
    (FROM Instead of Prisons 1976)
    The present criminal (in)justice systems care little about the wrongdoer's need or the victim's loss. The abolitionist response seeks to restore both the lawbreaker and the victim to full humanity, to lives of dignity and integrity in a caring community.
    The community we hope to build is one that assures us our basic needs and inwardly binds us in responsibility for each other. The commission of crimes by individuals from all strata of society, and the almost total disregard for the victims of crime is a reflection of the breakdown of communitythe lack of rootedness in the idea of community.
    Abolishing the punishment of prison is a fundamental step in abolishing the present punitive criminal (in)justice systems. [32] Helping both wrongdoer and wronged to resolve their differences thru mediation, restitution and other reconciliatory practices, are alternatives we can build into the new system of justice.
    Restitution offers the broadest range of possibilities on which to base a new system of justice. Restitution as we define it requires the wrongdoer to restore the victim to his/her situation before the criminal act occurred. But what is referred to as "creative restitution" can go far beyond that temporary response. It is described as a life-long voluntary task that requires "a situation be left better than before the offense was committed ... beyond what any law or court requires, beyond what friends and family expect, beyond what a victim asks, beyond what conscience or super-ego demands . . . only a 'second mile' is restitution in its broadest meaning of a complete restoration of good will and harmony." [33]
    Do the conditions for a new reconciliatory system exist in our fragmented, technological and competitive society? The potential is there, the yearning for true community is consistent with ideals common to our culture. The Christian principle of loving kindness toward every neighbor, including the wrongdoer; the Jewish principle of chesed or steadfast love binding the total community; the Golden Rule of universal benevolenceall are cherished ethics. But they are more than abstract ideals to which abolitionists aspire. They are ideals to be made operational in our programs and strategies to abolish prisons.

    Studies conclude that restitution is a valid alternative to incarceration and can be implemented slowly with incarceration in order to phase it out quickly.
    (FROM Instead of Prisons 1976)
    It is difficult if not impossible to attain these conditions within the criminal (in)justice systems. Thus, current restitution programs for those already imprisoned fall far short of the ideal. But since a growing number of prisoners regard restitution as an opportunity for "a way out of the joint," it should be seriously examined as a decarcerating mechanism.
    Many reformers see parole/restitution programs as a first step. They look forward to fuller utilization of the concept when citizens and systems gradually become educated to the use of restitutive alternatives.
    As it presently operates, restitution involves triple jeopardy: the wrong is paid for by serving time, by fulfilling "treatment" requirements and by paying money. No doubt, some intended lessons are learned, some new insights occur to both victim and victimizer-hut these beneficial side effects are coincidental.
    Data indicating how many prisoners would be willing to make restitution is limited. A study of 88 prisoners in Florida in 1962 was limited to those who had committed major violent crimes. [25] Of those convicted of aggravated assault, 54.5 percent indicated willingness to make restitution; theft with violence, 55.4 percent; and criminal homicide, 94.7 percent. Many of those convicted of criminal homicide were on death row, so they might have felt drawn to restitution due to the proximity of death. On the other hand, many of those convicted of assault and theft indicated that they felt they were already paying for their wrongdoing by imprisonment.
    Minnesota, Georgia, Oregon, Massachusetts and Iowa are experimenting with restitution programs inside their criminal (in)justice systems. The idea is beginning to grow as a "correctional" concept and the restitution programs do not seem to lack candidates.
    For the above reasons, this house should abolish prisons.

    Posted at April 21, 2015 09:53:07PM EST by Richard Chen



    Recidivism Stat:

    Posted at April 22, 2015 07:07:11PM EST by Hunter Atherton



    None available for this speech.

    Posted at April 23, 2015 08:19:19PM EST by Richard Chen



    None available for this speech.

    Posted at April 24, 2015 08:43:29PM EST by Hunter Atherton



    None available for this speech.


    This match has been completed. Show the Decision.

    Submitted at April 26, 2015 06:38:20PM EST by Michael Schatz

    Category Hunter Atherton Richard Chen
    Use of evidence: 3.4 4.3
    Delivery skill: 4.2 4.6
    Coherence of arguments: 3.4 3.7
    Responsiveness to opponent: 3 3.7
    Identification of key points: 3.4 3.8
    Comments: I felt that you had some very good arguments and you developed them well. With that said, I think you could have done a better job answering some of his rebuttals. Good arguments and very systematic delivery. You did a good job.

    The decision is for the Opposition: Richard Chen

    Reason for Decision:

    The proposition did not address the opposition's argument that she had used unfair methods in developing her arguments (e.g. depending too heavily on block quotes). The opposition also sucessfuly argued that it was possible to use the prison system as a means to rehabilitate criminals. The proposition did not satisfactorily explain why rehabilitation would be better without prison. Both did very well, but the burden was on the proposition to explain why prison's should be abolished. I wasn't completely convinced.

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