Wonho Rhee Jan./Feb.

2011 LD Affirmative Case Opening: “Crime and punishment grow out of one stem.” Because I agree with this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, a former American essayist and poet, I affirm the resolution that in the United States, juveniles charged with violent felonies ought to be treated as adults in the criminal justice system. Definitions: I will first define some key terms in the resolution. juvenile—a person who has not attained his eighteenth birthday (U.S. Code, February 2010) violent felony—any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year… that (i) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another; or (ii) is burglary, arson, or extortion, involves use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another (U.S. Code, 1984) adult—a person who has attained the age of legal majority (18 years for most purposes) (Collins English Dictionary, 2009) Value: My position upholds the value of justice. Justice is giving each his due. A society ought to be just so that individuals will be encouraged to follow the rules of society knowing that they will be treated fairly and that their actions will have their due consequences. To maintain an orderly society, juveniles charged with violent felonies must be appropriately treated in a just way for their actions. Criterion: If one is blameworthy for a crime, he is said to be culpable. In the U.S., culpability has two requirements: actus reus, Latin for “guilty action,” and mens rea, Latin for “guilty mind.” It is clear on either side of the resolution that a violent felony is a guilty action, an actus reus, so that requirement is met. Therefore, the value of justice will be analyzed by the criterion of mens rea culpability. In other words, the affirmative seeks to establish that juveniles that have committed violent felonies have guilty minds, mens rea, when doing so, making them fully culpable and deserving of adult court justice. Contentions: My first contention is that juveniles are responsible for violent felonies that they commit. I cite James C. Backstrom, a County Attorney from Minnesota, from 2008, “While…some youths lack the reasoning ability to fully appreciate the consequences of their actions, it does not mean they should not be held accountable for their crimes. The vast majority of teenagers understand the difference between right and wrong and know it is wrong to torture or kill someone. This is why our laws rightly allow adult prosecution for these and other violent crimes.” Now consider how the term “violent felony” was defined earlier; it entails a crime punishable by over a year of incarceration that threatens or uses physical force and can involve damage to property. The overwhelming majority of juvenile teenagers surely understand that these actions are wrong, and know that there are legal consequences for them. Furthermore, these actions take a degree of careful thought. To steal, burn, murder, or rape, some sort of equipment, premeditation, or skilled execution is usually involved. For someone to think through these steps and then

Wonho Rhee do them while knowing the whole time that the action is illegal and looked down upon in society surely makes them responsible for their action. The logical conclusion is that such juveniles have a mens rea, a guilty mind for their violent felonies. They have met the criterion of mens rea culpability and therefore have committed an injustice. By justly treating them as adults, they should be sentenced as adults would be if convicted. If mitigating factors prove to take away some of their responsibility, then the degree of punishment can be lessened just as it would with adults. But it is incorrect to argue that their brains are too underdeveloped for them to be culpable for their immoral felonies; killing someone takes much more planning and malevolent intention than stealing a piece of gum from a store. In his dissent in Roper, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia quoted from an earlier decision in which the court wrote that it was, “absurd to think that one must be mature enough to drive carefully, to drink responsibly, or to vote intelligently, in order to be mature enough to understand that murdering another human being is profoundly wrong, and to conform one’s conduct to that most minimal of all civilized standards.” My second contention is that juvenile court punishments are not adequate. Subpoint a: Juvenile court punishments are not strong enough. Consider what The Florida Times Union, a newspaper, said in 2007. “One of the greatest obstacles to reversing violent crime across the state is fixing a broken juvenile justice system, which doesn't have enough consequences for repeat offenders, law enforcement officials said Monday…At the meeting, Orlando Police Chief Michael McCoy said juveniles are committing more crimes because they don't face appropriate punishment.” It can be concluded that juvenile felons feel a sense of impunity that eggs them on to commit more crimes. This leads me to my next subpoint. Subpoint b: Criminal court punishments deter violent felonies. According to The Wayne Law Review, 2008, “The goal of treating a juvenile as an adult is that he or she will be punished more significantly, presumably with a prison sentence, than if retained in the juvenile court.” These stronger punishments work to deter violent felonies, as evidence suggests. From The Penn State Law Review, 2006, one researcher found that for every juvenile delinquent incarcerated, there was a reduction of between 49 to 66% violent crimes per year. Clearly, harsher punishments do work to stop juvenile felons because of the scare factor. Subpoint c: Some juvenile felons are beyond correction. Thus far, I have presented evidence and logic showing why adult courts are a better alternative to juvenile courts for dealing out punishments to deter. But we must also always remember that not all juvenile delinquents are amenable. That is, they’re not sufficiently willing to change and be influenced by rehabilitative or incarcerating efforts. I refer mostly to older teenagers, who are hardened enough in their identity so that no amount of attempted reform will work. Violent felonies require a punishment of over one year in prison; a juvenile who has committed such an atrocious act could quite possibly be beyond correction. The worst of the worst do deserve adult punishment. As my first contention stated, such juveniles have a mens rea, a guilty mind when committing crimes. The most just way to account for their grossly unjust actions is by treating them as culpable as adults in the criminal justice system.

Wonho Rhee Conclusion: To summarize, the affirmative achieves the value of justice by meeting the criterion of mens rea culpability based on two contentions: 1—Juveniles are responsible for violent felonies that they commit. 2—Juvenile court punishments are not adequate. I therefore urge an affirmative ballot. I now stand open for cross-examination.

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