Dec 12, 2010

sample resolutional analyses for the juvenile justice resolution

Below are some sample Resolutional Analyses and Observations written for the January / February juvenile justice resolution.

Each has its strategic advantages and counterarguments. I'll add any that I think of along the way. Feel free to suggest your own (or critique these) in the comments.

Added: Where useful, I've marked which ones match particular sides of the argument.

RA #1 (Aff)
Since acquitted juvenile defendants are no longer charged with violent felonies, and since we cannot presume the guilt of juveniles that are merely charged with violent felonies, the timeframe of the resolution extends only from charging to conviction. Potential punishment is excluded from the discussion.

RA #2
Since this is value debate, the Aff has no burden to implement a plan, and the Negative has no burden to uphold the status quo.

RA #3 (Aff)
Since the burden of the Aff is to prove the resolution true as a general principle, the Aff need not precisely delineate every single way that juveniles ought to be treated as adults in the criminal justice system.

RA #4 (Aff)
Since the burden of the Aff is to prove the resolution true as a general principle, the Aff need not argue that juveniles charged with violent felonies be treated as adults in every single case, or in every single way. Rather, the Aff must show that juveniles charged with violent felonies be treated as adults in the majority (or preponderance) of cases, and in the majority of ways.

RA #5 (Aff)
Since the resolution says "juveniles charged with violent felonies," and the prepositional phrase employs a plural noun, we concern ourselves only with juveniles charged with more than one violent felony.

RA #6
Since the resolution concerns the United States criminal justice system, and since the terms "juvenile" and "violent felony" are clearly defined in U.S. Code, and for the sake of clarity and fairness to both sides, we should use federal definitions of both terms (linked above).

Observation #1 (Aff)
It is important to remember that a juvenile charged with a violent felony has not been convicted of the crime.

Observation #2
Regardless of any other considerations, any arguments that do not meet Constitutional muster can be rejected out-of-hand.

Observation #3 (Aff)
Any bright-line distinction between juveniles and adults based solely on age is completely arbitrary.

Observation #4
The legal process is inherently political.

46 comments:

bariemissile said...

on RA #5:
Why is it that we are only talking about juveniles who have committed more than one violent felony? Because it seems to me like it's saying that juveniles(plural) charged with felonies(plural) just to make the sentence agree in number. But if you changed it to singular, then it would read juvenile charged with violent felony. So I guess my real question is why are we excluding juveniles charged with a single felony, as this is what most topic literature concerns.

Riley Frost said...

On RA#5...

Wat?

That's probably the most stupid analysis I've seen on the resolution, not to mention it's downright abusive.

Sure, felonies is plural. But so is Juveniles. Since they're both plural, neither of them are in the context of a singular case. If the resolution read, "A juvenile charged with violent felonies..." Then yes, it would warrant an outlook of multiple felonies per juvenile. But it doesn't read like that, so it doesn't warrant it.

In short: Stick with one felony per juvenile.

Anonymous said...

I agree, "felonies" is also pluralized to indicate that there can be more than one type of violent felony, there are simply to many ways to interpret syntax to non-arbitrarily presume one as "correct."

Jim Anderson said...

Whew. If no one had called out #5, I'd have been worried. (I don't know if it's "abusive," but it certainly exploits a grammatical ambiguity in the service of games-playing.)

Micheal Du said...

can you post like helpful sites with evidence about this topic and some v and vc pairs? Thanks in advance

Anonymous said...

on RA #1: Are you suggesting we simply charge them and keep the debate COMPLETELY to charging them? Ignoring ALL impacts?

Jim Anderson said...

Not at all. The timespan would run from when the juvenile is charged until conviction or exculpation (at which point the juvenile is no longer "charged," but "convicted" or "found not guilty").

The impacts would be at least twofold:

1. A jury trial, with all the attendant due process protections (remember, not all defendants are guilty!).

2. A speedy and public trial. Juveniles are guaranteed neither, and the community is often barred from knowing the identities of dangerous juveniles in their midst.

Anonymous said...

On Jim Anderson's response to RA#1:
Are you saying that juveniles are not given the full protections of the law in trials? That it would actually be better to be charged as an adult?
Also, I don't see how the conviction of juveniles is out of the timespan of the debate. That seems like focusing on some narrow language in the resolution, namely, that it says "charged." Can't we assume it means those who are convicted, too?

Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, yes, that's what I'm saying. A jury is meant to act as a check on government power. If someone is denied a jury trial because of their age, and is tried and sentenced by an agent of the state, you can argue that they haven't received due process.

Regarding the second point, the resolution says "charged" for a reason. Sussing out that reason--and assuming *nothing*--is one of the most important preliminary steps in a debate. It's not just a language game; it's a matter of determining the proper Aff and Neg ground. Including conviction in the debate could make a huge difference, as I show above. It gives the Neg much more ground on which to attack the Aff.

Anonymous said...

What is the federal defintion for a juvenile?

Jim Anderson said...

Good question. It's found at this link. I'll add it above, too.

Jim Anderson said...

Although it's important to note that there are exceptions--the minimum age for treatment as an adult, in the federal system, can be 13, 15, or 16 rather than 18, depending on circumstances or prior criminal history. See here for the legal language.

Anonymous said...

What could be a potential counterargument to RA #1?

Jim Anderson said...

There's an in principle argument (that the same principle that justifies treating *charged* juveniles as adults is the same principle that justifies treating *convicted* juveniles as adults), which is related to the slippery slope argument that the former will inevitably lead to the latter.

Also, the phrase "in the criminal justice system" means that the focus is on juveniles still in the justice system. Juveniles charged and later convicted are still covered by that phrase; juveniles charged and then released are covered only up until their release.

Anonymous said...

Hey! So, I was perusing the internet in search of information on repeat juvenile offenders, since the resolutional analysis I am probably going to use is basically the same thing as your fifth. I figured that since 'juveniles who commit a violent felony' is also grammatically correct, whoever wrote the topic intended for 'juveniles who commit violent felonies' to be plural. So I am wondering, do you happen to have any research that could help me make a case to back up the analysis? Thanks!

Jim Anderson said...

I think bariemissile, up above, has the best response to #5.

I disagree with the counter-example of "juveniles who commit a violent felony;" although it's informally acceptable, in formal English, it would refer to a group of juveniles who together commit a single collective felony (for instance, a gang assaulting an individual). The more I think about it, the more tenuous a plural reading of "violent felonies" seems to me. I wouldn't use that argument, since it could seem like a desperation move to many judges.

Also, be very careful: it's "juveniles charged. with violent felonies." Don't presume that they're convicted.

Anonymous said...

On observation #3:
Could you explain why any argument based solely on age is arbitrary? Because isn't age the distinction between the adult and the juvenile, not to mention the amount of brain development?

Jim Anderson said...

I'm not sure if Observation #3 is really necessary, or what it might be used for, other than to pre-empt lazy arguments or definitions based solely on age distinctions (i.e., that 18-year-olds have certain rights that 17-year-olds don't, without arguing *why* this is the case).

That the use of mere age to draw distinctions is arbitrary is, I think, pretty obvious. The drinking age used to be 18, and now it's 21. The voting age is 18, but could just as easily be 17. The driving age in many states is 16--or even 15, with a permit. The smoking age is usually 18. The age of majority in the justice system is 18, although there are plenty of exceptions.

Regarding the brain-based argument, there's plenty of evidence that the "higher functions" of the brain aren't fully developed at least until the mid-20s. Should we broaden the definition of "juveniles" to include 21- or 22-year olds?

Sierra said...

On RA #6, I found the definition for violent felonies very helpful, but the link to the definition for juveniles is broken. Could you tell me where to find that definition? Thank you!

Jim Anderson said...

Sierra, try refreshing this page (CMD+R on a Mac; F5 on a PC). The link works for me, both on Safari and on Chrome. If you still have trouble, let me know.

Sierra said...

Thank you, it works now!

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about how you can justify RA #1. Sure, they don't have to be convicted, but if they are then the jail time is a part of their experience with the criminal justice system. I see it as 'If they're innocent, then it's a non-issue, if they are guilty, then that is an important part of the CJ system.

Jim Anderson said...

That's definitely one way to respond to the RA, and it makes good sense. However, there's still plenty of ground for the Aff and Neg if the RA is accepted; notably, whether juveniles deserve the privacy usually afforded to them (keeping their names out of the public eye), whether they deserve a jury trial, and whether they deserve full due process rights, among other things.

Similarly, even if punishment were included, there's no reason that juvenile offenders would have to be housed with older offenders in order to be considered "treated as adults." There's a lot of latitude within the adult criminal justice system (diversions, house arrest, minimum security prisons, community service, etc.), and no reason to assume that juveniles' age couldn't be a mitigating factor in sentencing.

Anonymous said...

So are you saying that a juvenile being charged as an adult will never be placed in an adult facility? what about during the trial, i mean they have to be kept from just running away somehow. would they be kept in an adult facility for that time or would they be kept in one for juveniles, or would they be kept in a jail or jail-like facility at all? in most cases, that is.

Jim Anderson said...

It's hard to say, since it would depend so much on the severity of the crime in question, and the flight risk of the defendant, which are similar standards applied to adults given or denied the possibility of bail. Juveniles, in most cases, have fewer resources than adults, and may represent less of a flight risk (in general).

At worst, being held in jail is a shorter-term proposition than incarceration in prison.

Anonymous said...

Jim, I don't really understand why you emphasize the difference b/w charge and convict like ur post here: Also, be very careful: it's "juveniles charged. with violent felonies." Don't presume that they're convicted.
Also, you're saying that if juveniles are convicted and treated as adults they don't have to be incarcerated with them? is there any evidence on that?

Anonymous said...

do all of these trend either neg or aff, is so can you please indicate it thanks so much that would be much clearer.

Jim Anderson said...

First Anonymous, what I'm arguing is that conviction is outside the scope of the debate, which is a way for the Aff to limit the ground it has to defend.

Second Anonymous, can do.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
What does "desert" mean in terms of using it as a criterion?

Jim Anderson said...

"Desert" is the idea that justice means getting what one deserves. See here for a critical analysis.

The Anarchist said...

Hey, can i argue (on the neg) that by affirming we are saying that juveniles charged with violent felonies are adults, so if they are convicted they still have to be treated as adults which means they can't be sent to a juvenile detention facility?

Jim Anderson said...

You certainly can; emphasize the phrase "in the criminal justice system," ensuring that you define it so it includes incarceration.

Anonymous said...

on RA #5:
how you interpret the multiple aspect of "felonies" could also be an abusive/non-abusive argument, i.e. multiple times/multiple types

In this view, I don't think the grammar argument is abusive; the INTERPRETATION of the argument may be though..

feel free to correct me, Jim.
and thanks for all the work that you do. helps my brain stop wandering

Anonymous said...

Is there any way to combat RA #2?

Jim Anderson said...

Well, any tournament following the NFL's standards will rule out the mandatory use of plans (and traditional judges will absolutely rule them out).

The second part is a little more debatable, since the resolution also includes the phrase "in the U.S. justice system," which, in some interpretations, means we're supposed to be talking about the current system. Since the current system treats juveniles differently (with some exceptions), the Aff can argue that the Neg is supposed to defend the status quo.

The obvious Neg rejoinder is that the word "ought" makes it a matter of what is morally desirable, going to the principles of the matter, rather than defending all the major aspects of the present system.

Anonymous said...

Yeah that really scares me, because I base a majority of my AFF case on problems with the Juvenile system, (i.e. due process) and I don't want the Neg to wipe out half my case with that.

Jim Anderson said...

Well, full due process is an inherent procedural difference between the juvenile system and the adult system. The idea is that a jury trial is too stressful, too public, and too potentially prejudiced for a juvenile facing serious charges. So it's not the same type of distinction as whether prison is empirically harsher for juveniles than adults.

So I think you're on safe ground, especially with your own observation that would argue as such.

Nicholas said...

Why would the political nature of courts be important?

BTW If you want to to know where that Riley bro lives let me know.

Jim Anderson said...

Well, it could come into play in a case based on the social contract. If the law is shaped by politics, and juveniles are kept out of the political process, they're punished by the very legal system that disenfranchises them. (It also may serve as a block to anyone running a Platonic or otherwise ideal conception of the law / the rule of law.)

Anonymous said...

on RA #1:
But those juveniles who would go to prison would have been charged at some point, and would therefore be treated as adults in the "criminal justice system" which certainly includes actual imprisonment.

Anonymous said...

what is the difference between a resolutional analysis and an observation?

Jim Anderson said...

Observations are pre-case arguments of any kind (including definitions, in some people's view); resolutional analyses are pre-case arguments that are specific to interpreting the resolution and dividing up ground based on the interpretation.

Anonymous said...

For RA#1
My case is focused on rehabilitation over punishment for neg! what do i do??

Jim Anderson said...

Argue that we can't ignore the outcome for those charged and convicted (simply because the vast majority people charged in the CJS are eventually convicted), and because the phrase "criminal justice system" includes police, courts, and prisons. Punishment is an integral part of the discussion.

Anonymous said...

I don't really get how this is a value debate. Can you give further explanations for RA #2?

Jim Anderson said...

It's a value debate because--for a little while longer, anyway--that's what Lincoln-Douglas debate is supposed to be. A debate about values, where we don't discuss plans and policies to implement them, but why we ought to do the things we ought. Right and wrong. Legality and morality. Justice and the social contract.