Dec 1, 2010

Resolved: In the United States, juveniles charged with violent felonies ought to be treated as adults in the criminal justice system.

The NFL Lincoln Douglas debate resolution for January / February 2011 has been released:
Resolved: In the United States, juveniles charged with violent felonies ought to be treated as adults in the criminal justice system.
Definitions will be critical. In the United States, what currently defines juveniles and adults in the criminal justice system? How are they treated differently? (One massive point of controversy concerns the temporary nature of juvenile charges--they are essentially erased when the juvenile reaches the age of majority.) More important, why is the distinction drawn? What notions of proportionality and moral responsibility are involved? Furthermore, what constitutes a "violent felony?" What might make a violent crime a special case, worthy of adult-like treatment? And what does it mean to be "treated as an adult?" For instance, would that require juvenile violent felons to be housed in the same prison facilities as adults, or would it merely mean that the juveniles are charged and tried under the same criteria as adults, with a permanent criminal record (and public access to their criminal history; right now, juvenile criminals are not identified to the public).

Thinking about it further, there is a case to be made that the "treatment" does not extend past the arrest and trial phase--after all, they are juveniles that have been charged, not convicted. Hmm. Although the counterargument is probably that whatever distinguishes pre- and post-sentencing treatment for juveniles and adults is morally relevant to distinguish them in the first place.

This was my fourth-favorite resolution for this year, and although it tracks a little closely to the previous resolution, since it's focused on criminal justice, the topic is different enough to not feel stale. Plus, it'll be easy to research and fun to debate.

More links, analysis, and observations to come. As always, share your questions and ideas in the comments--they're what make this site so useful for so many!

P.S. Don't worry: the Nov./Dec. 2010 illegal drugs resolution post is still active, at least until January.

Added 12/2 / Clarified 12/31: The Federal Bureau of prisons defines "juvenile delinquent," which means a person who was charged as a juvenile (under 18); the upper age range for a juvenile delinquent is 21. Title 18 of US Code defines "juvenile." Could be a useful definition, especially to counter the "different states have different definitions" argument. The Supreme Court's ruling (and dissents) in Roper v. Simmons are also worth checking out.

Added 12/3: The Office of Juvenile Justice is a treasure trove of useful statistics.

Added 12/5: What are some of the risks of punishing juveniles like we punish adults? Also, how should we define "violent felonies?"

Added 12/9: Some scattered thoughts on the resolution.

Added 12/10: I cooked up a few resolutional analyses and observations for this resolution.

Added 12/15: What are some key features of the way juveniles are / may be treated in the criminal justice system? Also, here's a list of Value/Criterion pairs.

Added 12/20: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a useful intermediate-level introduction to moral justifications of punishment. (See also its article on legal punishment.)

Added 12/27: I answer a question about juvenile recidivism statistics.

Added 1/3: Guest-blogger Bri Castellini discusses the psychological implications of the Neg.

Added 1/9: Bri Castellini promotes Objectivism as a criterion, and generic case ideas for this resolution. I discuss matters of age and arbitrariness.

Added 1/19: I answer reader questions about punishing juveniles as adults.

Added 1/20: A quick thought about emotions and the law.

Added 1/24: Deconstructing the argument from brain-based differences.

Added 1/30: Due process rights for juveniles are considered.


Anonymous said...

I have a question, so I have found that a certain number of juviniles are in fact tried in adult court for violent felonies, while some aren't. What I am wondering is why some are and some aren't. The statistics I found weren't specific, so why are some kids tried in adult court and why are some tried in juvinile court?

Anonymous said...


good argument can be made from that for something like rule of law or equality. we must treat juveniles as juveniles, we cant bend the law.

as for why the difference occurs there can be many reasons.

1. Some argue that SOME juveniles possess adult mental capabilities. There really is no difference between a 16 year old kid and an 18 year old adult. However, there is a clear distinction between 5 year old and 18 year old.

2. Some argue that punishment and trial should be proportional to the crime committed.

C said...

All aff's imo, should have observations saying the res. is clearly specific to teenagers, age 14-17 for specifics. I dont think any aff wants to defend charging 6 year olds with violent crimes.

I'm not a huge fan of this topic because 100% of my arguments are ends-based; Affirming or negating causes this to happen. At first glance, this has very few ends based arguments, and is more about morality and theory of the action itself.

@ first anon. Some are put in juve and some aren't because state laws are different.

Jim Anderson said...

It should be noted that the decision to charge a juvenile (which is prior to the situation described by the resolution) is itself fraught with enough peril, both politically and strategically, that a prosecutor is going to do so in very, very few circumstances. Not only will a prosecutor who charges a child face a lot of flak from the community, but they'll face a daunting task of proving mens rea to a jury.

So it's not like affirming the resolution would automatically lead to a spate of 6-year-olds being charged with violent felonies.

D.Z. said...

wait... so the AFF has to argue ALL juveniles needs to be treated as adults in the criminal justice system?

Jim Anderson said...

Not all in some mathematical sense. The burden of the affirmative is to prove the resolution true "as a general principle," as the NFL LD rules state.

Anonymous said...

the aff can try to limit the resolution, but there probably isn't a definition that restricts juvenile to a certain age, nor an observation that would be fair (because it would contradict definition)

however, if the aff can offer statistics that show that more often than not, a certain age group commits felonies, then the aff will be able to deal with the resolution in a general sense, and essentially limit it.

Josh said...

So theoretically, if you were neg and your definition of juvenile was anyone under the age of 18, and the aff didn't oppose this, you could win based on the grounds of a 5 year old being tried as an adult as immoral or the opposite of what your value is.

Anonymous said...

would a good value for neg is morality and for neg conquestialism

Jim Anderson said...

Consequentialism is a form of morality; its outcome or goal is ends-based. You could link it to a value of morality, or you could decide which end / consequence is central--health, societal welfare, social justice, etc.--and make that your value.

James said...

So for aff would equality be a good value for this res?

Jim Anderson said...

Well, possibly. Equality of what, though? Of outcome? Of opportunity? Of rights?

James said...

Well I am a novice in this debate, but I would probably run equality of opportunity.

Anonymous said...

So, would there be any sense in arguing felonies at all for the aff.
And is it right for us to throw a 13 year old into a jail filled with 30 year olds?

Anonymous said...

So do you think that running retributivism or a retributive system for aff would work?

Jim Anderson said...

First Anonymous, I'm not sure what you mean by your first question. As to your second, more important, why wouldn't it be?

Second Anonymous, I think so. It would stand in stark contrast to the rehabilitative paradigm of the juvenile justice system. And remember, we're focused on juveniles charged with violent felonies, which means crimes that directly and physically harm persons--not just vandalism or theft.

Anonymous said...

help me with a value and criterian for this topic

Anonymous said...

what would be a good criterion and value fro neg???

Anonymous said...

I want to touch lightly on Locke's Scoial Cotract in my cses, but first I need to fully nderstand it. Most of the explanations I'm finding are sort of convoluted. My main questions are, what is the main idea of the social contract, and what was Loke's idea of what happened when an individual broke the contract? I would really appreciate any help given!

Jim Anderson said...

To everyone asking about V/C pairs, they're coming this week.

Anonymous said...

If the affirmation were to argue that the resolution was specific to the "charging" process and not the actual punishment, and stated that all Americans(regardless of age) have the right to post bail, be tried before a jury and have a speedy trial, what arguments could the negation make in response, besides further resolutional analysis?

Jim Anderson said...

1. There's the response that the principle undergirding this would also undergird--and inevitably lead to --punishing juveniles as adults (forcing the Aff to address those impacts).

2. Or, barring that, that the reputation and safety of a juvenile merely *charged* with a violent felony would be at risk if made public.

3. There are also arguments to be made based on the principle of parents patriae (the State as parent); since juveniles who commit violent felonies are, more often than not, coming out of bad home lives, the State has the obligation to protect society, and them, by taking on a parental role. This, plus the perceived greater ability of juveniles to reform, justifies a rehabilitative, rather than punitive, approach.

Alex said...

So would equality of people ( treating everyone the same) be a good value. If so how would u counter this question, " Do children have the same knowledge of what is right or wrong as adult?" or something along those lines. Also how would you prove if they bring this up that 'one size fits all"

Jim Anderson said...

Alex, equality under the law, or equality of opportunity, probably is where it's at, with a value of justice.

The question isn't necessarily whether children have the same knowledge as adults--but whether juveniles meet a minimum threshold of moral understanding to know that their actions (especially when we're talking about violent felonies) are wrong, and have consequences. (And, of course, that's only one question out of many!)

If someone, in a round, offers "one size fits all" as a serious argument, which I really hope they don't, you can point out that, taken to its literal extreme, the principle might support the argument that all crimes should be punished in the same way, or that repeat offenders are no worse than first-timers, or that the criminally insane ought to be held fully culpable, and... yeah, it's a pretty terrible argument.

JJ said...

I have no idea how to deal with topics like this.
I've noticed there's two types of topics in LD:
1) the really broad ones that almost require a specific plan(the last two resolutions), and
2) more specific ones that allow more philosophical framework debates (like the economic sanctions one--there's not much that can be debated about ground or RAs. The facts are pretty set; all you have to do is justify them).
I know how to deal with the second type, but not the first. My region is used to more moderate LD, so anything policy related is frowned upon--which is why resolutions that require plan/contention debates tend to get muddled.
How do I prevent my round from turning into a muddled fact debate?

Anonymous said...

Two things.

1) So say that someone does write a case about how the time frame of this res. is only from arrest to conviction, what exactly does that entail? More specifically, how exactly are adults and juveniles treated differently from arrest to conviction?

2) What is a debater's favorite drink?
Topical Punch ^_^

Jim Anderson said...

JJ, good questions.
I think it's critical to hammer home the idea of "general principle." In fact, it seems that debaters are getting so muddled on the idea of what LD is, that we ought to employ the NFL's language as a resolutional analysis at the start of every Aff case.

For those who've forgotten it, it goes like this:

Each debater has the burden to prove his or her side of the resolution more valid as a general principle. No debater can realistically be expected to prove complete validity or invalidity of the resolution. The better debater is the one who, on the whole, proves his/her side of the resolution more valid as a general principle.

It helps steer arguments back toward matters of principle rather than practice. For instance, we don't have to get bogged down determining whether the line between juveniles and adults should be 16 or 17 or 18 or 16 and three months or... to the point of absurdity. The question of the general principle is whether we ought to make a distinction in the first place, and on what legal or moral or empirical grounds. (Critically, we don't have to defend the status quo. That's an important point that some debaters miss.)

There will always be "hard cases," tiny exceptions carved out under special circumstances, but they don't necessarily negate a general principle.

1. I deal with the time issue here. The short story: for juveniles charged as juveniles, it's about where/how they're stored (in juvie rather than jail), whether their records go public (they're private), whether they have a right to a speedy and public trial (they don't), whether they have a right to a jury trial (they don't).

2. Ouch.

Anonymous said...

well i think was a good help since im a novice in debate as well

Anonymous said...

On the link to the definition of Juvenile, there is a question of "Why can't federal juveniles be housed with adults?" I don't exactly understand the quote in the answer. Does it mean that under any circumstances, juveniles cannot be in the same BOF institution as an adult, even if they were to be "treated as an adult" as the resolution states?

MRS said...

I am an LD novice at this point, and i am not experienced in writing cases. Do you think going with the idea of a super predator for aff is good? you know, if they are doing______ at 14, what will they be doing later?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anderson-

going with your last comment on this post, with the bit about their trial and conviction at the end- do you think that as a ovice i could run an affirmative case with my value being right to a fair trial??

Jim Anderson said...

Second Anonymous, if juveniles were treated as adults,at least if this includes punishment, there wouldn't have to be any restrictions on whether they could be incarcerated with adults. The AFF in no way is limited by / to the present system.

MRS, well, that's a possibility, with two caveats: first, that as a general principle, all juveniles--not just "superpredators"--would fall under the resolution, so you couldn't focus exclusively on superpredators. Second, the threat of superpredators, a huge concern in the 90s, seems to have been overblown. But perhaps you have some good research backing up your ideas.

Third Anonymous, that would be fine--provided that you're ready to defend the other ways that juveniles would be treated as adults. I'd use a value of Justice and a criterion of Due Process, or Equal Treatment Under the Law, either of which would include the right to a jury trial.

In any case, the AFF must fully, sufficiently affirm.

ld novice said...

do you think safety is a good value for aff? I'm not sure what i would have for the criterion though..

Jim Anderson said...

Safety is decent, especially with a criterion of the Social Contract. Check out the V/C pairs page for more discussion.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking for the Neg running on the idea that treating juveniles as adults will be irresponsible and souport that claim with scientific evidence and reasons made by judges. Do you have any ideas on a value and a criterion for this approach?

Anonymous said...

would societal welfare as a value and government legitimacy as a criterion be alright? i thought i would go this route for my aff. Saying that we need to protect social welfare and the only way to do that is a have a legitimate government that protects us by putting criminals away.
I really appreciate your help thanks.

Jim Anderson said...

Well, in what way would it be "irresponsible" to treat juveniles as adults? With a little more specificity, I'll give you a much better answer.

Jim Anderson said...

Second Anonymous, you could go that route (with a nod to John Locke's view of punishment).

Or you could take a utilitarian approach to punishment--incarceration / incapacitation and deterrence, with rehabilitation as a bonus, since these lead to a lesser incidence of crime in society, improving societal welfare.

Anonymous said...

My evidence will prove that treating juveniles as adults will be irresponsible due to the fact that "juveniles are
more vulnerable or susceptible [than adults] to negative influences
and outside pressures, including peer pressure".Justice Anthony Kennedy

Jim Anderson said...

It seems that you're headed toward a value of Justice and a criterion of Correctly Assigning Moral Responsibility (itself based on Retributivism, since your thesis seems based on the idea that it's wrong to punish those who aren't fully responsible for their actions).

A question, though: why does it matter that juveniles are more susceptible to negative influences? Couldn't the same be true of some adults--say, those with low self-esteem? Why does that mean that juveniles should be dealt with in a different system, rather than on a case-by-case basis within the adult system?

Anonymous said...

What defintion of justice do you think will be best for my case. I see the thinking behind your question but thinking about it if an adult brain is well develope but the adult still has low self esteem wouldnt it be worst for juveniles who brain isnt as well develope to have low self esteem.
There is a reason why we dont treat adults who show childish behavior as juveniles and thats because their brain is well develope and they have a moral understanding of their actions.So stating that why should we treat juveniles whos brain is not well develope and dont have a moral understanding of their actions to be treated as adults.

Sara said...

if juvies are treated as adults, won't the jury be made up of juvies? b/c it's supposed to be peers, right? and if that is so, how does it help either side? b/c neg wouldn't say treat them as adults, and aff wouldn't say the juvies have limited mental capabilities. just wondering.

Jim Anderson said...

"Peer" means "person of the same legal status." Thus, if juveniles are tried as adults, they have the same legal status as adults, so their juries are made up of adults.

Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, for a definition of justice, probably nothing more complicated than "to each their due." Criminals are due punishment; the innocent aren't. Those who are less culpable deserve less punishment. Clear enough, and easily warranted.

Anonymous said...

Do you believe my way of approaching this case is a good approach?

Jim Anderson said...

It can work; it just needs a lot more specific warrants than the Kennedy quote and some brain-based research. It's obvious that juveniles are less competent than adults in some ways--but what isn't obvious is the bright line distinction, and at what point juveniles aren't competent enough. A relative distinction doesn't itself establish a baseline.

For instance, imagine a sign: "You must be X inches tall to ride this ride." That's an obvious baseline. Imagine a different sign: "You must be as tall as a middle schooler to ride this ride." How tall is that? And how do we know it's tall enough?

Anonymous said...

Alright I see. Now thinking about it i'm not sure if i want to keep going with this approach. If you were debating this what approach would you take. Thank you, you been alot of help.

Jim Anderson said...

Tough question. I would probably focus on the rehabilitative / educational aim of the legal system. It would tie together the moral responsibility point you've been making (which is quite important, and you should definitely keep pursuing it), along with other salient differences: that rehabilitative outcomes are much better for juveniles charged as juveniles, that juveniles shouldn't be kept in prisons with adults, and that juveniles (who, in the resolution, are charged with violent felonies, and not automatically guilty) in the separate system have sealed records, with their names kept out of the media spotlight in most cases, so their lives aren't prematurely ruined.

In all, the goal is to reduce crime and improve juveniles' life prospects through rehabilitation and education.

Anonymous said...

I'm writing my cases right now and I used your link for the definition of a juvenille according to BOP. The link says that juvenilles are under 21, but most of soceity believes them to be under 18. What do you think about this when bringing it up?

Jim Anderson said...

I see--it's a little confusing. A juvenile is someone under 18. A juvenile delinquent is someone who was convicted of a crime committed when under 18 (who was charged / tried as a juvenile); that person is considered a juvenile deliquent within the prison / legal system until they reach 21.

Jim Anderson said...

I've changed the post up above to (hopefully) reduce confusion.

LC said...

I've really enjoyed reading through your material and previous questions. However, this is where I am having a dilemma with this resolution. what it is going to come down to is that aff must show the correctional and safe aspect, and neg will focus more on moral and ethical standpoint, most often. So I'm just a little lost of really if there are any ways to have a unique approach?

Also, for aff, I really wanted to do safety and LSC in a sense that gov't should focus on the surrounding society as well, not just these juveniles and their moral compass. However, I also want to do justice and all the constitutional aspects (speedy trial, jury, etc.) along with if possible justice for the others in society? (thus encompassing safety for the public) however the I'm stuck with an effective VC that can cover this all. I'd appreciate any help!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,

i was wondering if you could help me with a subpoint for a contention i have: juveniles should be given appropriate punishment.

it would be a great help if you could help me out.

Anonymous said...

help me with my definitions please? thanks!

Jim Anderson said...

LC, good questions.

1. One way the Aff could go is to reject the therapeutic basis of juvenile justice, for several reasons. One, it infantilizes juveniles (remember that we're talking about juveniles that have been charged with violent felonies--serious crimes that, it would seem, require a level of mental and moral sophistication). Two, it reduces rights protections (denying due process, jury trials, etc.) Three, it turns the law into a parent, accelerating the disempowerment of actual parents, and increasing the paternalism that threatens to envelop us. Four, it removes moral clarity from the law, making it a matter of safeguarding the feelings of adolescents, rather than teaching them and punishing them along moral lines. Fifth, it discounts the suffering of victims of the violent felonies, since juveniles receive much lighter punishments, and decreases respect for the rule of law.

So I think there's a lot more for the Aff than just the correctional or safety aspects.

2. It seems, for your second question, that your value would be justice, defined in the sense of the balance between one's rights and duties. How do we balance them? Through the criterion of the social contract, which, in the United States, is expressed in the Constitution. The preamble sets out the purpose and duties of the government to protect its citizens; the Bill of Rights (in particular) prescribes its limits and, on the other side of the coin, establishes the rights of the citizens in its jurisdiction. (That it's based on Lockean principles, of course, is no accident.) So I think that you're well on your way with what you've got.

Anonymous 1, is that a point for Aff or Neg?

Anonymous 2, I'd be glad to--definitions of what?

Jim said...


This PDF document contains a plethora of important testimony covering the juvenile crime topic from several perspectives. This includes some excellent links. I'll caution you that some of the written testimony doesn't convert easily to a word document. In any event, it lends much credibility to both affirmatives and negatives. I particularly like the brain research criticism since I think it will be quite popular as a negative case.

Jim Anderson said...

Good suggestion, Jim. Here's the link to the PDF, for those interested.

Anonymous said...

Here's an interesting thought...
Couldn't the aff run a case saying why adults should be treated as juveniles are in the status quo? Wouldn't that make juveniles be treated as adults?

I'm probably not using that, but it might be interesting and catch people off guard.

Jim said...

The MacArthur foundation posted a very good analysis that represents some excellent evidence for the negative. The study was done in 2006. However, much of their analysis are claims.

Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, funny, I just recently had the same thought. Not sure whether judges would buy it, though--do we want adults to lose jury trials, have lighter sentences, keep their names out of the papers, etc?

Anonymous said...

umm.. that point is for aff...
also, i was wondering...
i was searching for the LD format because im a newbie at lincoln douglas... but one website said that 1AC is 7 min long and 1NC is 8 min long... but i also searched on wiki answers and it said 6 min 3 min, 7 min and so on... which one is correct??

Jim said...

From my own perspective counterintuitive affirmatives need a lot of thought and planning. In addition, because they run contrary to much of literature it will be difficult if not impossible to find good warranted arguments. In my judgment it's not a good time tradeoff as far as research is concerned. Tricking the negative means you may also trick the judgment. Keep it simple and win with in depth argumentation.

Jim Anderson said...

Well, you'd have to define what "appropriate punishment" is, for a person charged with a violent felony, and why, currently, juveniles aren't getting it. I think I could probably help you more if I saw an outline of your entire case so far (including your framework). Feel free to email it my way.

Also, the times you want are 6-3-7-3-4-6-3.

303 said...

Hello, this blog has been extremely helpful.
However, after all my research I am still confused with a few aspects:
1st- with the current system, how are the juveniles sentences finished out after they hit adulthood. also some sources state that many juvies cant get life prison, but others do. do you have any clarification on this? also, would sources and cases where juvies do get life be advantageous as a counterargument for the aff?

on another note,
for the neg do you have any suggestion for other points rather than the brain development & immaturity (which I will use if needed, but am not too fond of), how it affects their future, etc.?
I'm just having trouble coming up with 2 solid contentions on the neg, that would be more impactful than the affs.
---sub question: how effective would an 8th ammendment, cruel & unusual punishment, point for the neg be?


shrimp said...

i debated someone today and i said something about how the adult system creates more recidivism and my opponent asked me if i had any statistics. i said no, and later, she used that against me in her rebuttal. what is the best thing to do in that kind of situation?

--thanks xD

Jim Dorsey said...

The 8th Amendment cruel and unusual punishment arguments are excellent on the neg and go with justice as a value.

If a crime is committed within the juvenile justice system then his/her records are expunged when they reach adulthood. On the other hand if a juvenile commits a crime and is charged as an adult and found guilty those records will never be expunged.

Recidivism is high for adult criminals and may be less for juveniles but juvenile recidivism rates are more difficult to find. Aff use retributive justice-which is punishment.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to know ur opinion on how to rebuttle if your negative value criterion is Rehabilitation but the aff has facts about how the juvenile justice system does not rehabilitate?

Jim Anderson said...

303, in most cases, when their sentence outstrips their age, juveniles are transferred into adult prisons once they reach the age of 21. And it's not life imprisonment per se that's problematic, but life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). Juveniles can receive LWOP, but only for homicide, or a worse crime. (Juveniles can't receive the death penalty.)

As far as the Neg goes, the harshness of potential punishment (alluded to above) is definitely a strong point. Should 13-year-olds be housed with 45-year-olds? And not only does this affect their future in a rehabilitative sense, but it dooms them, essentially, to a life with a reputation as a criminal, if not as a criminal outright. As Jim Dorsey points out below, "cruel and unusual punishment" is a definite Neg point--and the very substance of the Supreme court's rejection of LWOP and capital punishment for juveniles.

shrimp, the best thing is to have the evidence with you! Barring that, you could argue that it stands to reason, given the harshness of prison, being surrounded by career criminals, having to join a prison gang for protection, etc., that juveniles in an adult prison would be less likely to rehabilitate.

Anonymous, you don't have to aim for perfect rehabilitation--in human history, there has never been a system of criminal justice that rehabilitates all criminals--but for relatively effective rehabilitation. There's plenty of evidence that juvenile justice is better for rehabilitation. Not perfect, but significantly better.

Jim Dorsey said...

I would suggest looking for an amicus brief from organizations like the American Bar Association which is sympathetic to the cruel and unusual punishment argument. These briefs are not difficult to find, but understand there are briefs on both sides of the argument.

Anonymous said...

earlier you posted this:"The short story: for juveniles charged as juveniles, it's about where/how they're stored (in juvie rather than jail), whether their records go public (they're private), whether they have a right to a speedy and public trial (they don't), whether they have a right to a jury trial (they don't)." you replied to someone when they asked about writing a case based on the whole timeframe issue. If the timeframe observation was accepted in the round, which side does it advocate(aff or neg), I'm slightly confused on that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim, great blog. It's been loads of help to me over the last half year of my debate career. For this resolution I am completely stumped for value/criterion for the AFF side. Any ideas?

Jim Anderson said...

First Anonymous, it makes the Aff's ground smaller--not having to defend punishment, as it would be a moot point--so it helps the Aff.

Second Anonymous, check out this list, and you'll be able to ask more specific questions on that post.

Vishal said...

What exactly is the status quo regarding juveniles being put on trial as adults because it seems that some juveniles delinquents are put on trial as an adult and some aren't. thanx for all the help!

Jim Anderson said...

That's just it: some are, some aren't. It depends on the prosecutor's discretion, the juvenile's own wishes (juveniles can volunteer to be tried as adults), the political mood, etc. Recently, the number of juveniles tried as adults has increased.

However, the status quo, to a degree, is irrelevant. The Neg could advocate its ad hoc / mixed approach, or argue for all juveniles to be treated as juveniles; the point is that juveniles, in the Neg world, in general, would not be treated as adults in the U.S. justice system.

shrimp said...

i just wanted to let you know that this blog has helped me sooo much... thank you and please keep blogging!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

lder said...

hi jim,
would it be bad if you say that juveniles should not be held responsible because their brain is not fully developed yet???
(my criterion is moral responsibility.)

thank you

Jim Anderson said...

LDer, that's the argument the Supreme Court used to forbid giving juveniles the death penalty, and, later, life without the possibility of parole (except in homicide or equivalently horrible crimes).

For more on the moral responsibility/ brain-based argument, see here.

Jim Dorsey said...

I want to tell all those debaters who want to use brain theory on the negative that many of the authors don't believe it should be used to determine moral problems. Additionally, there is an excellent article in the New York Times by Rosen that goes into the scientific and moral reasons for not using brain research. One problem is with culpability because it seems to excuse behavior.

LDer said...

okay, thanks for you feedback
so as you know, my criterion for NEG is moral responsibility.
can you please edit and reply for the following?:

In order to uphold the value of Justice, I will now propose the criterion of Moral Responsibility. In order to be punished for a crime, the criminal must be morally responsible for it. However, because a juvenile is a juvenile, and their brain is not fully developed yet, we must treat these people as what they really are instead of locking them up in prisons with 30 year-old rapists.

Jim Anderson said...

I want to second Jim Dorsey's caveat up above. Juveniles may have a less developed brain, but that doesn't in itself establish a baseline for full legal and moral responsibility required to be treated as adults (which is what I've argued up above).

LDer, your last line is more than a little inflammatory, but you've set up a decent line of argument.

V: Justice
Warrant for justice (defined as "to each their due," in a retributive sense)
C: Moral Responsibility
Warrant (i.e., why criminals must be responsible in order to be punished; also, what it means to have a moral responsibility to be just.)

C1: Juveniles are not fully morally responsible, and thus do not deserve adult punishments

C2: Punishing juveniles as adults is itself morally irresponsible

Anonymous said...

Hi jim,
thanks again for your wonderful feedback. thanks for the suggestions for the contentions but i already have them. 1) juv. biologically immature to be tried as adults 2) adults sytem is bad a) adult system decreases safety and increases costs b)adults system does not prevent crime
do you think these points are okay??? please let me know
thank youu, this blog is soo helpful

brandon said...

hi jim,
Ive read where federalism on the aff will be a huge issue. How exactly would that operate in an affirmative?? It sounds mighty interesting.

Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, I was trying to show you how to tie all your contentions into one criterion, pointing toward one value. (In my style of LD, that's how it's set up: all your contentions must link back to your value via your criterion.)

Your "decreases safety / increases costs" would fit as a subpoint under my C2, while your (b) subpoint seems more defensive / a block against an Aff arguing for deterrence.

In other words, I think my version is more coherent. I can't readily determine a way to shoehorn your contentions into an overall framework. (Other commentators are encouraged to jump in here, if you see something I don't.)

Brandon, well, is the Affirmative going to argue for a federally-based definition of "juvenile" or "criminal justice system" or "violent felonies?" If so, they risk collapsing the important distinctions hammered out by various states (as is their prerogative in our republic). Otherwise, if they accept the multifaceted system set up across the states, they risk defending different approaches (which may seem arbitrary). It's a difficult decision either way, although I'm not sure how "big" it's going to be from round to round. Guess we'll find out this weekend.

Jack said...

is a class E felony a violent felony?

Jim Anderson said...

I'm not sure if it has to be, but it certainly can be (such as robbery, battery with serious bodily harm, etc.). Usually felonies are divided into classes based on the length / severity of punishment; in some jurisdictions a Class E felony merits up to 15 years incarceration.

Lyssa said...

I'd like to start by saying I've been regularly following your blog, and it's been immensly helpful for a novice debator. However, I'd really love to hear your opinion on my cases for this round, as I really need to beat a fellow team-mate. Long story short, he's a jerk.

Anyways, for my neg, I'm running with a fluffy little case of compassion and understanding, that these are kids, we can't treat them like they're not, and we really need to understand the situation they come from. I'll be using a good deal of Hobbes's State of Nature arguement, saying that the point of the juvenile justice system isn't and shouldn't be based on retribution; rather, it should be set up to teach these kids, most of which came from bad homes, the morals that society expects them to uphold. It would point out that the affirmative does not just have to prove this for rape and murders, but also for robbery and assault. I also plan on bringing up the point that in many states, children over the age of x (Here it's thirteen) can be charged as adults for worthy crimes anyways, and we shouldn't sentence these kids who might have a chance as adults and give them all a record because of those few.

The Aff is a bit less solid, going on the idea of realism, that whether or not they're kids, they still performed these crimes and should be realistically held responsible for them. I also plan on pointing out that we're not locking them up forever; they'd get a normal, adult sentence, be it six months or two years. Not to mention we'd also only implement these for violent crimes, crimes where someone is hurt or could have been hurt. We're not locking up juveniles who go and shop lift or buy alcohol. We'd only be trying them for adult crimes that deserve adult punishments. The 'what about the seven-year old' arguement is easily defeated, as realistically, it would take a really gutsy lawyer with a really string case to even try to convict a seven year old, and this leaves the system open to convict those who really did do the horrible stuff.

Any thoughts you can spare would be greatly appreciated.

Jim Anderson said...


Interesting thoughts; I'd like to see how you use Hobbes in your Neg. I have a few questions about your case ideas.
Regarding the Neg:

1. Why should we value moral education over punishment, especially concerning the rights of victims of violent felonies? Isn't punishment itself instructive--especially to others, as a deterrent? With a rehabilitative focus, do juvenile violent felons take the justice system seriously?
2. Regarding your point about the status quo, isn't the point of the resolution, on the Neg, that those violent felons currently charged as adults ought not be?

For the Aff:

Does the Affirmative have to accept the possibility of punishments like Life Without Parole and the Death Penalty for juveniles? If not, why not?

Lyssa said...


1.)How would locking up kids with those who violate social rules teach them the values they need in life? Juveniles in the Justice system are still punished; even with all of the programs designed to teach youth, Juvie is no walk in the park. It's still hard beds, bad food, and a cut off from family and the rest of the world. I would say that victims who want to see these children hurt should know they stil ARE going to prison, and that they should remember compassion, and take heart in the fact that according to the Mayo Clinic, forgiveness leads to less stress and hostility, improved mental healt, and lower blood pressure. As for whether or not kids take the juvenile justice system seriously, I would like to show that since 2005, 5,200 youth in the Juvnile justice System in Stockton, California, have recieved high school or college degrees while in the Juvnile Justice system. I should think that they're taking their reformation seriously.

2.) I was under the impresion that the neg was arguing for maintenance of the current system. That does certainly throw a wrench into the arguement, doesn't it? I'lll have to ponder that arguement, then.

1.) Most definitely. In order for an adult to earn the death penalty, they have to commit murder in the first degree (in most states). Murder in the first degree entails premeditation, and in several states the addition of aggrivating factors, like poisoning, or "Heinous, cruel, or depraved manner of committing offense."

If there is a kid out there who knowingly planned to kill and killed another person, where the evidence backed this up, where a jury of peers found him guilty, and where a judge decided to give this sentence, realistically, do you think this kid is going to change? With all of the checks and balances in the court system, with the ability to appeal to higher courts, whatever punishment is given out is surely deserved.

Okay, how'd I do? And thanks so much, again.

Jim Anderson said...

Lyssa, I'd say you're doing pretty well.

Regarding your last claim: granted that murder is a terrible crime, but since you're arguing not on retributive terms, but on rehabilitative terms, why would a batterer, rapist, or pyromaniac be more rehabilitatable than a murderer? (Empirical evidence would help.)

(Incidentally, the Lionel Tate case is a good example of how this debate plays out in the real world.)

Chris T said...

Do you know of some good evidence for the aff case?

Spencer said...

Ok, I'm writing a neg case first. I thought about doing something completely different and not mainstream (casewise) for a change. For this topic I've decided to use justice as a value (criterion yet to be determined) and have the crux of my case be focused on "the theory of criminal justice." Basically, there are 5 pillars to the theory (which our justice system is based upon) each of which gives a basis for treatment of criminals -- basically, why should criminals go to jail.
1. Deterrent Theory
2. Retributive Theory
3. Reformative Theory
4. Expiatory Theory
5. Preventive Theory
because the theory has no specific limitations towards age, i will assume, as if it were an observation, that it is talking specifically about adults and treat it in my case that way. I will go on to explain how each of these pillars is unjust in the treatment of juveniles; therefore, we must not treat them as adults.

I have two questions -- what should i make my criterion? - What are your thoughts? i'm interested to see if this case is, if at all, valid.

Jim Dorsey said...

Restorative justice works well on the negative. Criterion "a second chance" or "rehabilitation yields desired outcomes of juvenile justice system." Jim Anderson provide all the pairings for you. Search them out. Your neg looks much too broad. Instead of breath argumentation you should be looking towards depth

mr debater said...

I really like this blog, thanks so much for creating it! I always come here before researching and it has always helped.

I have a couple questions that I hoped you could help me with:

I recently wrote an aff case with ought=expectation, but I don't know how to defend it from theory. Do you have any suggestions?

As for normal cases, are there any aff case ideas out? Both are easily refuted, or at least that's what I've seen so far. I can't think of anything else.

Finally, is it possible to counter the "juveniles are treated badly in prison" argument without a definition of charged? That's the only response I've seen and it doesn't work that well.

Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

I love this blog.

i have question (i am new to LD)
If i am AFF
can i narrow the scope of the argument to only juveniles who had mens rea , and say i am not arguing for the imprisonment of 6 year olds who accidentally killed or hurt somebody

Jim Anderson said...

That's reasonable; it's very, very rare for anyone under 10 to be prosecuted for a violent felony. In some states, children under 10 are presumed incapable of committing a crime. Also, empirically, I've heard statistics that over 90% of juvenile offenders are in the range of ages from 16-18.

PBS has a great breakdown of different state laws regarding this matter.

Jim Anderson said...

mr debater,

Regarding your first question about "ought = expectation," that's a little unusual; in LD, usually "ought" is either defined as moral obligation or as desirability.

"Ought" as "expectation" means something like "Looking at those clouds, it ought to rain today." There's no sense of obligation--clouds, at least from this person's perspective--aren't moral agents, or agents of any kind--and there's no desirability (because I want to play outside, and rain will spoil my plans, or because I want it to snow instead).

How would you plan to use "ought = expectation?"

I'm not exactly sure what your second question is asking. Have you looked at the V/C pairs post (and the many comments) for Aff ideas?

Lastly, there are a couple ways to respond to "juveniles are treated poorly in prison."

1. The Aff isn't defending the status quo (obviously, in a sense, because the status quo separates juveniles and adults in many if not most cases), and so the Aff could argue that prison reform is a possibility on both sides of the resolution.

2. The Aff can also argue that juveniles charged with violent felonies and convicted by a jury deserve the punishment that adults receive, no matter how it may offend the sympathies of those who are bystanders. The jury is given a weighty moral decision, seldom taken lightly, regarding a young person's future. If they (unanimously) vote for punishment (and all this after a prosecuting attorney has made the decision to charge the juvenile with the violent felony on the basis of compelling evidence), then it's likely that the felon--again, the convicted felon, since we're talking punishment--deserves the sanction.

A retributive framework is probably essential to this approach. It makes punishment a moral matter. (Victim's rights are another way to address the Aff.)

mr debater said...

ah, thanks. As for the reform refutation, would I have to include that in the aff advocacy?

As for ought=expectation case, I saw on the VBI resources page, and apparently a debater Ben Holguin wrote such a case, and went up to quarters of TOC with it, so I wrote a similar case:

huge framework that says morality is too hard to define, its exclusive, etc. Then I define ought as expectation, then the contention becomes fairly easy to argue.
Which is why I think it might be a huge target for theory. Do you have any suggestions for arguing theory? I'm pretty new to it; I've only been in 2 theory rounds.

I know it's a curveball and that ought is normally morality or desirability, and I'm only going to run it in front of a VERY flow judge.

On my second question, I meant to ask if there were any non-stock case positions since due process rights cases are too easy to refute. I've written a racism case, but I can't think of much else.

Thanks so much!

Jim Anderson said...

The likely "theory" response is probably to point out that LD is supposed to be a debate about values, and if you're turning into a debate about fact, that completely shifts the research burden (to one of trend-spotting) and needlessly (and perhaps impossibly) muddies the debate (because trends are notoriously unpredictable).

Another way to look at it: on some level, that society is or isn't treating juveniles as adults isn't as important as what we ought (there's that word again) to do about it.

I would love to have seen exactly how Holguin defeated his opponents with that case. It sounds really interesting.

For some other Aff positions... a five-minute brainstorm begins... now:

* Environmentalism. (Separate systems = waste of resources, critical in these days of global warming.)
* Adults should be treated as leniently (and/or denied the same due process protections) as juveniles. Why not? The American justice system incarcerates and overcharges the heck out of adults as it is. We need to dismantle the carceral state.
* Adolescence is a myth, a social construction foisted on us by progressive (read: woolly-headed) educators.
* Juvenile justice is a form of therapy via the courts, a category error at best, a moral travesty at worst, watering down the moral authority of the justice system.
* Juvenile justice ignores victims rights.
* Juvenile justice "otherizes" adolescents, denying them moral equality.
* Adult / juvenile is an oppressive, probably patriarchal binary.

Anonymous said...

That's reasonable; it's very, very rare for anyone under 10 to be prosecuted for a violent felony. In some states, children under 10 are presumed incapable of committing a crime. Also, empirically, I've heard statistics that over 90% of juvenile offenders are in the range of ages from 16-18.

Can the affirmative really make this claim? And if so, are they studies to support it?

Anonymous said...

Hey Jim,

To start off, I want to thank your blog because it's been and still is, and undoubtedly will be extremely helpful. I just finished my cases, and I've been having some doubts due to the extremity of the subjectiveness in this resolution.

If you're not completely clogged up with the above and below comments, may you please look at them?

trish said...

I have a few questions:

1. People keep making it a point to say refuting the due process ideas on the affirmative is simple. How exactly would this be refuted?

2. Is it possible to make the point on the affirmative that juveniles commit more crimes because they believe the penalty is not significant?

3. how does the affirmative refute the point that juveniles are not morally culpable?

Thank you so much for all of your help :)

Jim Anderson said...

First Anonymous, I've heard that in seemingly every other Aff case this weekend (at Federal Way High School in lovely Federal Way, Washington). The PBS link above goes into some of the state-by-state details, while the 90% stat is a compilation of DOJ statistics.

Second Anonymous, it's a long weekend, so there's an above-average chance that I'll have at least time to give them a cursory examination. Feel free.


(1.) There are several responses to the Due Process arg.

1. Argue that going to trial, an adversarial approach, etc. is too stressful, too public (and reputation / life-ruining), too complicated for a juvenile to understand.
2. Point out that SCOTUS has ruled that juveniles deserve most due process protections; some of the lack of protections are flaws in the system, not in the idea of treating juveniles diferently.
3. Due process rights, ultimately, are less important than more basic rights (life, liberty, etc.) of the victims, society as a whole, etc.
4. Full due process would further clog up the court system; if anything, we need more juvenile-friendly diversion / community based responses in *adult* courts!
5. Juveniles are denied other civil rights for similar reasons of comprehension, risk-assessment, etc.

(2.) It's possible. I've heard some (older) research that supports that thesis, comparing outcomes in states that changed their penalty structures to be harsher or more lenient, with corresponding decreases or increases in juvenile crime. I don't have it on hand, but I know it's out there.

(3.) By pointing out that, as a general principle, most 16+ juveniles (see above) fully understand right and wrong, and can predict the consequences of their actions, and, by pointing out, as I've argued elsewhere, that much of the neurological research in this regard shows only a relative distinction, and not whether juveniles are, in fact, incapable.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,
In general in LD, neither side has to defend the status quo, correct? I'm asking because specifically in this topic it seems as if neg could dodge attacks from aff saying that a neg world denies juveniles rights (i.e. trial by jury) by saying, i'll build a juvenile court system that DOES give them rights. basically by negating are you defending the juvenile court system that exists, or can you find one sole difference in the court systems that ought to be upheld (i.e. having separate prisons for adults/teenagers) and make all else equal?

happywappy8 said...

ok so i was thinking for my value i do morality and im not so sure what i would put for my criteria for my aff case i was thinking of bringing up alex and derek king who at the time were 12 and 13 they were brotehrs and they were both tried for as adults for there fathers murder. would that be ok to bring up

Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, well… the resolution does say "in the United States," which seems to warrant at least some level of commitment to the unique features of the U.S. justice system. That doesn't equate to the status quo directly, but there has to be some kind of salient difference for the Neg to be able to defend any kind of ground. If you're only choosing one feature, don't be surprised if your opponent claims that you're insufficiently / conditionally affirming.

Exactly which features of the justice system are inherent to the treatment of juveniles and/or adults… that's the tricky part.

happy, see the V/C list linked above. Morality is an okay value, but it can sometimes be tough to defend against claims of vagueness or cultural relativism (i.e., that morality is defined differently by different people in different times and places, so we need a better value like justice, which can be linked to objective legal principles / texts).

happywappy8 said...

Thank you im thinking of doing my value on morality i have a feeling with the way im writing out my debate its going to work i just dont know a criterion to link it with. im talking about how kids/ teens know what there doing at the time they do there acts nad im going to give example i have my three area of analysis
PLease help or any ideas and Thank you

Anonymous said...

I believe that juveniles should be charged as adults ONLY in extreme cases. The age at which an adolescent becomes an adult is when he or she can correctly make decisions that effect their lives. Apparently adolescents are not mature enough to make right decisions, therefore, adolescents should be tried as adults in only morally corrupt crimes (such as murder) where even an immature adolescent could tell the difference between right and wrong. Therefore, I believe that crimes should be tried differently depending on age and degree of crime. This suggests that children can be tried as both adults and adolescents. If there is no age restriction on trials, then there should not be an age restriction on anything else, when proper judgement is needed. For example, if people believe that children demonstrate proper judgement and maturity enough to be tried as adults, then they also have the proper judgement necessary to drive, drink, and smoke.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else feel the affirmative should be given an extra 15 seconds to read this ridiculously long and wordy tongue-twisting resolution?

Anonymous said...


Would you consider it possible for a Negative to run a case saying juveniles ought to be treated MORE harshly than adults? Give examples on how the current system is weak, too soft on crime, etc. Seems like an easy way to steal all of the affirmative's offensive, and top it as well.

Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, you can, and in fact I've half-jokingly suggested it (half-jokingly because it'd be a really tough sell).

The problem you'd run into: why shouldn't all felons--and not just juveniles--be treated more harshly, which would be an affirmation of the resolution?

Anonymous said...

True, although that's assuming you interpret the resolution as treating juveniles the same as we treat adults -- meaning a change for one is a change for all. However, couldn't you interpret it as asking if we should treat juveniles AS adults are currently treated? Meaning, asking if the standards that adults are currently held to are just for juveniles to be held to? So maybe neg could claim that yes, we shouldn't hold ANYONE to these standards, but the resolution is asking if they're fair for juveniles, and since they're part of "anyone", we shouldn't. Does that make sense..? Seems like a lot hinges on the interpretation of the resolution.

Lyssa said...

The Computer has so kindly decided to start working again.

Anyways, I still can't figure out how the Negative would argue against 16-year old homicidal maniac. The BAR association has some interesting statistics that might be twisted. Could you argue that the affirmative cannot simply target this small percentage of offenders, provided there's statistics about how small that percentage is?

Anonymous said...

How does one go to define treated? And Sources?

Jim Anderson said...

Lyssa, the burden for either side is to prove the resolution true or false "as a general principle." (In fact, the NFL rules of LD even state, "No debater can realistically be expected to prove complete validity or invalidity of the resolution.")

A general principle can admit a few extreme exceptions.

Anonymous said...

I had a technicallity isue with the wording of the resolution. I cannot find a definition of "Charged" that includes punishment, but could i say the same thing thru and observation?? If so, how?

Anonymous said...

What percentage of juveniles charged with a crime actually go to jail? If it is high percentage, would I be able to make the observation that since a majority of the juveniles charged with a crime, that in the debate, we can talk/refer to the actual punishment in jail?

Jim Anderson said...

First Anonymous, focus on the phrase "the criminal justice system," which includes both courts and prisons. And, as the person below you points out, if most juveniles end up being convicted, punishment seems to be too likely to leave out of the discussion.

Second Anonymous, I don't know about the stats for juveniles, but for adults charged, the conviction rate is over 90%. The stats for juveniles are tough to compare because of the existence of the dual systems.

Anonymous said...

But there is that one Washington stat which had the recidivism rate at 77%. Would it be wise to back that up with a stat on the juvenile recidism rate in all of USA?

Jim Anderson said...

The recidivism rate is the rate at which juveniles (or other criminals) reoffend after they've been imprisoned and released; it doesn't let us know what percentage of juveniles (out of those charged) end up punished.

That is, presuming you're the same anonymous commentator as the one above, and that I'm understanding you correctly.

Anonymous said...

Do juveniles charged as adults get longer sentences?

Jim Anderson said...

Yes and no. See here.

Anonymous said...

So according to that last link, the juvenile recidivism rate is actually higher in criminal courts? Also, how do you find these sites? I can never find these by myself!

Anonymous said...

"Juveniles tried as adults were more likely to be incarcerated, and incarcerated for longer than those who remained in the juvenile system." ["The Transfer of Juveniles to Criminal Court: Does It Make a Difference?", Donna M. Bishop and others, Crime and Delinquency, vol. 42 (1996)]

Jim Anderson said...

On the other hand,

"A 1996 Texas study found that juveniles sentenced in adult court did receive longer terms than they would have received in juvenile court. However, for all offenses except rape, the average prison time actually served was only about 27 percent of the sentence imposed, in some cases shorter than the possible sentence length in a juvenile facility."

[Eric J. Fritsch, Tory J. Caeti, and Craig Hemmens, "Spare the Needle But Not the Punishment: The Incarceration of Waived Youth in Texas Prisons," Crime and Delinquency, vol. 42 (1996), p. 593.]

Anonymous said...

That is from your link isn't it? which stat can I use? or are both eligible to be used?

Jim Anderson said...

Yeah, it's from the link (which also cites the study you--presuming that was you, O Ye Anonymous Commentators Who Confuse All of Us--mentioned.

Both studies are over 14 years old, so it would be best to find more recent statistics.

However, they're not directly contradictory. The one I mentioned says that sentences are sometimes shorter, while the Bishop evidence could be talking about an average.

In either case, it's worth finding the original studies, either on JSTOR or ProQuest or in a college library.

Still Anonymous said...

Gracias Sensei Anderson.

Anonymous said...

I was debating a round this weekend and an opponent tried to pull the fact that silence is not compliance is this true or false thanks

Anonymous said...

Would Justice/Moral Obligation for Aff and Societal Welfare/Rehabilitation for Neg. be good pairs?

Jim Anderson said...

First Anonymous, what was the context of their argument? On the surface, it would seem your opponent is correct: silence comes for many reasons, including anger, fear, reproach, confusion...

Second Anonymous, Societal Welfare / Rehab works for Neg; as for Justice / Moral Obligation, how are they linked?

Anonymous said...

the context of the silence is not compliance argument was when my opponent dropped a contention and i attempted to cross apply the drop thinking that this drop infers agreement as i had been told by other debaters. She refuted saying they could not be cross applied or flowed over because silence is not compliance

Jim Anderson said...

Oh, I see. Well, she may be right in other contexts, but in debate, there's this thing called the "burden of rejoinder." If you address one of her arguments, and she fails to rebuild it (i.e., drops it), you have every right to claim it as a point won for your side.

Anonymous said...

i have do this for my speech and debate group at my school. unfortunately this is my first case and although i have a general idea of what to do i cannot come up with any contentions other than:
1. Somebody who has lost the innocence that comes with a juvenile should not be considered a juvenile.
can this be supported?

Taylor said...

sooo..AFF is saying what?
NEG is saying what? i get the just of it all, i'm just having a hard time justifying each side..

Ketchupeyes said...

Hey, I was considering running that juveniles be tried more harshly than adults(doubt that's grammatically correct) on neg. Any ideas?

mrdebater said...

Do you have any ideas for curveball cases for either side? I'm tired of running the same stock cases and hearing the same stock refutations.

Any kritik ideas, unique positions, or anything that's just plain wierd?


Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, for the Aff, look into the matter of due process (linked above).

Taylor, well... the Aff is saying that juveniles ought to have the same rights / process (and potentially, punishment) as adults, while the Neg is defending different systems / approaches for juveniles and adults (in the way that we have juvenile courts and prisons). The reasons for both positions are manifold and are described above.

Ketchupeyes, I'd recommend against. You can make the argument that we need to "teach kids a lesson" or somesuch, but you'll have a hard time convincing a judge of the validity of this approach. The cultural presumption in favor of lighter treatment for juveniles is just too strong.

mrdebater, Foucault had a lot to say about the criminal / penal system that is applicable to this resolution. Also, read up on critiques of "therapeutic justice," if you haven't already. On the Aff, why not run an economic or environmentally-based argument that consolidating systems preserves scarce resources, and that environmental impacts outweigh justice considerations? And if anyone else has better ideas (or things you've heard), now's a good time to pipe up. For me, coffee hasn't quite kicked in.

Ketchupeyes said...

Hey, thank you so much for your help in the past, I just have a few more questions.
I'm considering and abolition aff; the two separate systems are harmful and we should just combine them to form "The Justice System". My teammates and I have only come up with defensive arguments but not many offensive arguments other than those pertaining to due process. Any ides?

Jim Anderson said...

There are extensive arguments to be made in favor of due process protections, so I wouldn't worry if that's mostly what you focus on.

The trick will be proving the unique harms of a combined system--otherwise, the Neg can advocate for reforms within the present system, and you'll lack comparative advantage.

mrdebater said...

I wrote a Multi-Systemic Therapy counterplan, but I dont' know how to make it competitive. I ran it in a practice round and my teammate said it's non-competitive since MST can be given to adults.

Is there a grammatical interpretation of the resolution I could use to make it competitive?

Thanks for you help!

mrdebater said...

ketchupeyes - I have a case about that. Read the Janet Ainsworth article "Youth Justice in a Unified Court: Response to Critics of Juvenile Court Abolition"

Ainsworth talks about arbitrariness in two systems so your v+vc could be something like minimizing arbitrariness.

Jim Anderson said...

mrdebater, MST works with families and schools, providing holistic treatment. Since juveniles are different from adults in other legal ways--for instance, they're (mostly) bound to their parents, and must attend school--I would doubt that MST is possible for adults.

There's also deterrence: it doesn't work for juveniles, who can't appreciate long-term consequences, but it does for adults. Changing the adult system to MST would likely destroy the deterrent value of punishment.

mrdebater said...

Thanks a bunch!

Also, what do you think of a Mexico case? It's technically called the United States of Mexico so it's textual.

I did a little background research and negating seems better.

I could say the Mexican CJS is much worse than the American CJS so it's more important to talk about it, and debating about only ourselves is egocentric so its bad to always discuss ourselves.

What do you think about this case?

Thank you!

Jim Anderson said...

You can try it, but a judge that thinks you're just angling for a cheap win is going to vote it down pretty quickly.

The Aff can respond in three ways:

1. That you're being abusive.
2. That the plain meaning is obviously The United States of America.
3. That you're factually incorrect; the official name of Mexico is the "United Mexican States" when written in English.

mrdebater said...

That helps a lot!

Hmmm... I think I can handle all but the last one. I'll definitely run it only in front of a tolerant judge.

I don't know about the third response. Gramatically, I might be able to pull it off but I'm not sure.

Thanks for your help (Glad I didn't start casewriting before considering the case)

Sierra said...

On the negative side, if making the observation that neg only has to prove that there are instances in which juveniles ought to be tried as juveniles,doesn't the arguement that because juveniles brains are undeveloped so they shouldn't be tried as adults fall? My thinking behind this is if you argue that there are instances in which juveniles are competent enought to be held accountable for their actions then you can no longer argue that juveniles in general are not aware of the effects of their actions.

saunee said...

What are some of the best questions to ask during cross x for both sides?