The NFL LD resolution for January / February 2011 offers all kinds of interesting possibilities, since it considers potential distinctions between adults and juveniles in the U.S. criminal justice system.
Below is a list to get you started in your analysis. In the comments, suggest your own, or critique these offerings. Remember two things: that the resolution concerns those charged with violent felonies, and that we're dealing with serious crimes, not minor offenses, which may affect arguments about the ability of juveniles to be rehabilitated.
V: Justice (defined as "to each their due," or a similar concept)
Trending AFF. If the aim of the criminal justice system is to punish the guilty, then we must determine the proper punishment for guilty parties. Retribution (or its philosophy, retributivism) offers a moral justification for punishment, as well as a limit: proportionality, based on the principle that the punishment must fit the crime. The Aff argument, in a nutshell, is that adult crimes (violent felonies) deserve adult punishments. For one view of retributivism, see here.
V: Societal Welfare or Justice
Trending NEG. If the purpose of the justice system is to rehabilitate criminals, then perhaps the juvenile justice system offers better prospects for young offenders. This, of course, presumes that the juvenile justice system is founded on the principles of rehabilitation--which, historically, it is.
V: Societal Welfare
Utilitarianism is quite possibly the closest allied moral framework with democracy. After all, if the goal is the greatest good for the greatest number, what better way, societally, to achieve this than through democratic means? If the ultimate aim of a democratic society is its own well-being, then utilitarianism offers a way to determine whether treating juveniles as adults in the criminal justice system either adds to or detracts from overall happiness. More specifically, the utilitarian theory of criminal justice is based on the beneficial outcomes of punishment: preventing future crimes through deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation. However, in the wider context of utilitarianism, punishment is counterproductive if its costs outweigh the benefits. Any statistical argument about rehabilitative outcomes or deterrence is most likely utilitarian in nature. The weakness of utilitarianism, of course, is that it offers no internal constraints on punishment.
C: Rawls' first principle of justice (or, more generally, the Rawlsian social contract)
C: Equal protection of the laws
Trending AFF. Juveniles charged as juveniles may not have all the rights and protections of adults (most notably, the lack of a jury trial). Is this just?
V: Justice (defined in terms of morality)
C: The Categorical Imperative
Trending AFF. According to Kant, moral actions are good in and of themselves. Furthermore, Kantian theory applies to all rational agents--criminals and law enforcers alike. Those who punish criminals are bound by moral obligation to punish them to the fullest. This argument, of course, hinges on whether juveniles are fully rational agents. Oh, and warning: many people misunderstand Kant and the Categorical Imperative, so make sure you do the research first.
C: Governmental Legitimacy / the Social Contract
Trending AFF. A government that oversteps its bounds with unjust laws--even those that are initiated through democratic processes--has violated the Social Contract, which is a rough approach to balancing rights claims as a precursor to the formation of a State. Any State that, through some loss of sovereignty, can or will no longer enforce the law, has violated the Contract, and is no longer legitimate. If juveniles aren't fully punished for committing violent felonies, perhaps the State has not fulfilled its obligation to protect the public and enforce the law. Furthermore, if juveniles' privacy is protected in the juvenile justice system, the public won't/can't know about potential felons in its midst.
V: Individual Rights
C: Reducing state power
Similar to the argument above: we live in an age of ever-expanding state power. The justice system in the United States is a well-oiled machine, grinding individuals to powder. Does treating juveniles like adults give the state more power? Or less?
Trending NEG. In the United States, the Constitution, as the supreme law of the land, is the ultimate standard of justice. Is treating juveniles like adults Constitutional? At least in one respect, no: juveniles aren't to be given life without parole or a death sentence. But what about otherwise? Is it cruel and unusual punishment to throw a juvenile in adult prison? Or, on the other side, do juveniles deserve a "speedy and public trial," which isn't guaranteed in the juvenile justice system?
C: Virtue Ethics
Trending NEG. Why not? By the doctrine of parens patriae, the State may intervene when juveniles run afoul of the law, and their parents are nowhere in sight, morally speaking. What if the role of juvenile justice is not to punish, or even rehabilitate, so much as to educate in virtuous conduct?
C: Moral Responsibility / mens rea
Trending NEG. To be punished for a crime, a criminal must be morally responsible for it. Are juveniles charged with violent felonies as morally responsible as adults?
V: The Future
Trending NEG. Juvenile Justice preserves optimism in two ways: one, it retains hope that juveniles can be reformed, preserving their potential future (with the possibility that past crimes can be "wiped out" when the offender is old enough, with no permanent criminal record dogging the offender for the rest of his or her life. Two, it prevents juveniles merely charged with violent felonies from having their reputation destroyed by a sensationalistic media.
V: Societal Welfare
C: Communitarianism / Education
Trending NEG. "It takes a village to raise a child." The community has an interest in ensuring that children grow up well and whole. The juvenile justice system seems predicated on this concept, which requires a decidedly more active approach by the State in educating and enculturating youth. Seen in this way, the juvenile justice system is an extension of the education system (or a parody of it, in a more cynical view, or indistinguishable from it, in the most cynical view).
C: Jury Trials
Trending AFF. The jury is a foundation of criminal justice in a democratic republic. By denying juveniles jury trials, we not only fail to educate them about the values of the community (since criminals are punished not only by officials of the State, but by the people themselves), but prohibit the community from having its proper role in weighing the facts and determining guilt. Community standards evolve over time, and there is no more efficient way to adjust to evolving standards than direct community input in the application of justice.