The Instigator
MTGandP
Pro (for)
Losing
10 Points
The Contender
heart_of_the_matter
Con (against)
Winning
37 Points

A just society ought not use the death penalty as a form of punishment.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/22/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 7,754 times Debate No: 9306
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (13)
Votes (9)

 

MTGandP

Pro

This is the round two debate of the Tournament of Champions. I thank my opponent for participating in this debate, the gracious judges for their time, and the host(s) of this tournament for creating a great forum for debate.

Although this is an LD resolution, it will be debated in a more loose format.

Definitions
Just: acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good.
Society: an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another. (Merriam-Webster)
Ought: Indicates moral obligation or duty.
Death penalty: the killing of a person by judicial process. (Wikipedia)

========

What is a Just Society?

A just society is not necessarily a society that is always morally right (otherwise there would be no need for punishment), but is instead a society that is committed to working towards moral uprightness. I contend that a society with the death penalty is not acting true to the commitment to justice.

========

Contention 1: The Right to Life

Every person has a fundamental right to life. When the government executes a convicted criminal, it is revoking a human being's right to life. Criminal or not, no one may justifiably revoke such a fundamental right as this. Because of this, I have never understood the death penalty; why is it that people have their right to life revoked simply because they commit a crime? This logic does not follow.

========

Contention 2: The Costs of the Death Penalty

The average cost of implementing the death penalty instead of a life sentence is about $100,000 (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...). This additional expense is unnecessary; in addition, I contend that it is unjust to force the taxpayers to pay this additional cost when life imprisonment is just as effective as the death penalty.

========

Contention 3: The Execution of Innocents

Usage of the death penalty runs the risk of executing innocents. 135 prisoners on death row were found to be innocent (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...). Courts generally do not continue to investigate cases in which the convicted criminal was already executed, so there is no telling how many innocent have been wrongly put to death. In 1987 a study by Professors Hugo Bedau and Michael Radelet found that at least 23 innocents had been wrongly executed (http://www.justicedenied.org...). This is too high a price to pay for a technique that is no more reliable than life imprisonment.

========

I thank my opponent for participating in this debate, and I eagerly await his response.
heart_of_the_matter

Con

I also thank the judges, the readers, and my opponent for this debate. I am excited to participate in this, my first time being in a debate tournament.I will now address the statements made by my opponent in his opening round and I will also introduce my own contentions within the framework of his numbered points (using letters) in order to make the debate easier to read and follow.

=======================================================================

What is a just society?
A just society is a society that administers justice.
If a society is merely "working towards" administering justice then it is only a "mostly just" society at best. It will not have reached the point of being a "just society". One is an idealistic point of view while the other is a realistic point of view.

=======================================================================

1. The Right to Life

A. While it is true that in America we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (property), these rights can certainly be withdrawn. In fact, in the legal system, that is the way that ALL punishments work! Rights ARE taken away: They either take away a person's life, liberty or property. Think for a moment about that. If a person is speeding, he is penalized with a fine (taking away his property). If a person commits a serious crime they will be thrown in jail (taking away his liberty). And ultimately, if a person commits the most abominable act and murders someone, then he is given the maximum penalty, capital punishment (taking away his life).

B. If a society does not kill the murderer they are in effect saying that the murderer's life is worth more than the victim's life. BUT People are granted EQUAL justice under the law. So how could one life be worth more than another person's life? the answer is that it couldn't. Therefore, for justice to be fulfilled exactly it must be "life for life". Which leads finally to the reality that if a society is to truly be just, then it must exercise justice by punishing those who deserve to be punished, and to the degree which they have offended and broken society's laws.

"First, there is equality before the law. This means that every man's case is tried by the same law governing any particular case. Practically, it means that there are no different laws for different classes and orders of men [as there were in ancient times]. The definition of premeditated murder is the same for the millionaire as for the tramp. a corollary of this is that no classes are created or recognized by law. Second, the Declaration refers to an equality of
rights....Each man is equally entitled to his life with every other man; each man has an equal title to God-given liberties along with every other. (Clarence Carson, The American Tradition [Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.:Foundation for Economic Education, 1970], pp.112-13.)

========================================================================

2. The Costs of the Death Penalty

A. What the "right" thing to do is not based on how much a thing costs. If we are to consider what is "just" (as is stated in the resolution) then the cost is not a factor. Sometimes, (and perhaps many times) it costs more to get things done ethically rather than compromising. For example, consider the quote "Millions for defense but not a cent for tribute". http://www.time.com...
This quote expresses the idea that it is not always the right thing to do to pay people off to make things easier for yourself. In this example giving in to extortion from the pirates in Barbary was not seen as the right thing to do, even though it would have been cheaper.

B. Life imprisonment is NOT as effective as capital punishment, but my opponent asserted that it is:

PRO (Round 1 Contention 2) "...when life imprisonment is just as effective as the death penalty."

I would point out that sometimes prisoners who have murdered others have be allowed out of prison on parole and they have killed again. Further, there will ALWAYS be a chance for the prisoner to escape. (it is a documented fact that escapes from prisons have happened). I will post one example here for a source but certainly many similar stories could be posted: "GRADY, Ark. (AP) Two convicted murderers put on guard uniforms and walked out of an Arkansas prison during a shift change, officials said Saturday as they searched for the men....Both men were serving life sentences without the possibility of parole at the prison about 60 miles southeast of Little Rock." http://www.cbsnews.com...

The only way to guarantee with certainty that the crime will not happen again is to enforce capital punishment. In a just society, one life taken by a murderer could perhaps be answered by one life being paid by the murderer BUT there is NO possible way that it could be "just" to let a murderer kill two or more people, because according to justice it could never be repaid. (Two or more lives will always be a larger total than one life- The one life the murderer can repay with). Also, a murderer would not even have to escape the prison in order to kill again, he could simply murder another prisoner in the prison, what more could be done to him as punishment if there was not capital punishment? He would already have received the maximum penalty allowed by law. In 2001 and 2002, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported last year, 129 inmates in state prisons and jails were victims of homicide.
http://www.boston.com...

======================================================================

3. Execution of Innocents

A. Capital PUNISHMENT deals with the punishment, not if someone is guilty or innocent. Trials are divided into 2 phases:
1. Determining guilt or innocence
2. Sentencing
Once the sentencing is taking place it has already been determined that the person is guilty. If there is ANYTHING that put the person's guilt in question BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT then the person should not be convicted. Therefore during the sentencing portion (where capital PUNISHMENT) falls, it has already been made clear that the person is guilty. Therefore, technically, capital PUNISHMENT does not deal with guilt or innocence, only the punishment phase of the legal system. If guilt is not clear then there are lesser charges which can be brought against the perpetrator such as murder in the second degree, or some offense that does not allow the death penalty

B. My opponent's study took place in 1987. Presumably, the cases which it examines were even older than that. But even in that world and time the citizens found it to be a just principle to have capital punishment, even though they didn't have forensics or modern science . In fact, capital punishment goes back to the beginning of time: Genesis 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
http://scriptures.lds.org...
However, in today's world, DNA and forensics evidence is being used, and the certainty of the guilt of the accused party has increased many fold.

=====================================================================

I thank the judges and the readers and my opponent and wish him good luck in the next round.
Debate Round No. 1
MTGandP

Pro

A society is not "acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good" unless there are no criminals. But since there clearly are criminals (hence the resolution), my explanation will be accepted. If this is to be a point of further contention, I ask that my opponent explain why idealism is in this case superior to realism, or if there is even a distinction.

========

1. The Right to Life

A. My opponent has not given reason why it is just to revoke fundamental rights, but has only committed the bandwagon fallacy (http://www.fallacyfiles.org...). To elaborate on my original point, I would argue that imprisonment, while unjust, is sometimes necessary for the protection of society. Life, being the most fundamental right, should not be revoked unless absolutely necessary for the wellbeing of society. Since life imprisonment still has the same effect on society as execution, I contend that a life sentence should always be administered instead of the death penalty.

B. The topic sentence of this subcontention is a false assertion. Taking away the murderer's life because the murderer took away someone else's life will not help the murdered person in any way. As a great visionary once said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." My opponent is equivocating justice with revenge. Since Merriam-Webster defines justice as "the maintenance or administration of what is just", my opponent is claiming that murder is a morally upright response to murder. It may be state-sanctioned killing, but it is murder nonetheless.

Punishment in terms of revoking rights is not only immoral, but unhelpful. The role of prison is not to deter crime; there are much more effective ways of doing that, such as torturing criminals. But what prison truly excels at is separating criminals from the external community, thus protecting society. Punishment is not an effective deterrent to crime (http://www.slate.com...).

I do not see how the quote is relevant.

========

Contention 2: The Costs of the Death Penalty

A. In a direct sense, my opponent is correct. But indirectly, it is unjust to spend taxpayers' money on a punishment that has not been shown to have any advantages over a less expensive alternative.

B. I assert that life without parole is cheaper and more humane than the death penalty, so capital punishment is unnecessary. Furthermore, only about 0.5% of prisoners (and falling) escape, and even fewer escape from federal prisons -- out of 115,000 inmates, only one prisoner escaped from 1997 to 2001. (http://www.slate.com...) And either way, these are reparable flaws with the prison system and do not support use of capital punishment but instead vouch for improvements of the penitentiaries.

I fail to see how it is just to kill a murderer. Will it give the victim his life back? I think not. My opponent's primitive sense of justice is disheartening. Also, my opponent seems to never have heard of solitary confinement. This can be utilized for prisoners who are especially dangerous.

========

Contention 3: Execution of Innocents

A. No determination of guilt is infallible. Execution of an innocent is never acceptable.

B. These types of evidence are not flawless, and my opponent has given no citation as to their accuracy. There will always be innocents who end up being executed, no matter the system. The only way to solve this is to get rid of the death penalty entirely.
heart_of_the_matter

Con

I thank my opponent for his well thought out rebuttal.
===========================================

1. Rights
A. My opponent has crossed himself up here quite a bit in an attempt to have it both ways:

quote from PRO "I would argue that imprisonment, while unjust,..."

Stop for a moment here. Notice how my opponent is claiming that the laws that we have that make criminals go to jail are UNJUST, that somehow imprisoning someone who is violent (for example) is somehow unjust. How could that possibly be unjust? Answer = It isn't. It is needed for the safety of society, because other people also have rights, among which is the right to their own safety. That is just and fair.

Ok. Then RIGHT AFTER that my opponent says: quote from PRO "...is sometimes necessary for the protection of society."

So here my opponent is saying that it is just. I wanted to slow it down on those points to be sure that those things didn't get overlooked.

So to break it down: First my opponent says the law is bad "UNJUST" = PRO is saying it is BAD here.
Then my opponent says that the law is sometimes "...necessary for the safety of society" = PRO is saying it is GOOD here.
BAD /= GOOD. Therefore my opponent has committed a logical fallacy.

I believe my opponent only claims that particular situation is unjust is so that he can try to use it to make a point about how somehow taking away a murderer's life could be unjust, but it is perfectly clear in the first instance that it is completely just to imprison someone who is violent. They have violated the laws, and for the protection for the others in society the person must be imprisoned. So what HAS to happen is that the guilty party has to have their right to liberty REVOKED (IF we are truly dealing with JUSTICE).

B. Do not be deceived, because CON is simply sticking to the resolution, exactly as the resolution reads. The resolution is about how a "JUST" society should respond, not how a "MERCIFUL" society should respond.

The resolution states: "A JUST society ought not use the death penalty as a form of punishment."

Justice and Mercy are completely different virtues, do not be confused. Justice is about ENFORCING the law. MERCY is about IGNORING the law. Justice is raw and fair. Many people may not be accustomed to dealing with raw justice, but I hope no one is swayed by PRO trying to introduce "Mercy" into the resolution, because it isn't there.

Definition of mercy from dictionary.com:

3. the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, esp. to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.
http://dictionary.reference.com...

Here is Merriam-Webster's definition as well:

1 a : compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power; also : lenient or compassionate treatment b : imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

The Death Penalty is even used as THE example in the definition of MERCY. Too bad for PRO that the resolution deals with Justice instead.

Secondly, who said the law was supposed to benefit the murdered person? My opponent has simply implied that, because that also is not written in the resolution. If anything it is dealing more with society. And it is a benefit to the society if a convicted killer is prevented from ever murdering again with 100% certainty. Further, there is only ONE way to secure that outcome of perfect safety for others in the society. The people in the society deserve that protection. We all know what that one sure way is.
============================================

2. Costs

A. To quote PRO "...on a punishment that has not been shown to have any advantages over a less expensive alternative."

CON pointed out in Round 1 that there is a significant advantage to having capital punishment, and what advantage would that be? The obvious advantage of capital punishment over life imprisonment is that it is 100% effective at preventing any additional murders. If the murderer is allowed to live there will always be a chance for them to kill again. This is basically just extending my argument from last round since it was not rebutted.

B. To quote PRO "I assert that life without parole is cheaper and more humane than the death penalty,"

CON already pointed out last round that cost is irrelevant, and this was not disputed, extend my arguments.
CON also pointed out earlier in the round that "Mercy" is not the value we are arguing, but rather "Justice", so whether it is more humane or not (Mercy) is irrelevant and immaterial to the resolution. If "Mercy" was the value, CON could make a strong case that Capital Punishment is more merciful than life imprisonment, in fact this is actually why I am for capital punishment, but I will try to stay on topic here and stick to what the resolution actually states, and would invite my opponent to do likewise.

As far as solitary confinement being utilized for prisoners who are especially dangerous: why isn't it used today then for all convicted murderers?
The reason why is because prolonged solitary confinement is cruel and unusual punishment which is forbidden by the Constitution (8th Amendment). It is a type of torture. And if the convicted murderer was not kept in solitary confinement the ENTIRE time, then he would have an opportunity to murder again. That is why it doesn't work.

"the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture. The relevant treaty monitoring bodies -- the Human Rights Committee and the Committee against Torture -- have found that prolonged solitary confinement can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." - the USA has ratified this treaty.
http://www.amnestyusa.org...

"evidence overwhelmingly [indicates] that solitary confinement alone, even in the absence of physical brutality or unhygienic conditions, can produce emotional damage, decline in mental functioning and even the most extreme forms of psychopathology such as depersonalization, hallucinations and delusions". Ruling in a case involving prisoners held in strict isolation in Germany, the European Human Rights Commission (1978:97) similarly noted that
"isolation can be sufficient in itself to gravely impair physical and mental health".
www.solitaryconfinement.org/uploads/sourcebook_02.pdf
===========================================

3. Innocents

My opponent's 5 sentences from last round did not fully rebut my arguments, nor establish his own. In fact his own ideas can be applied just as easily to the case for CON. For example:

1. "No determination of guilt is infallible." --> No imprisonment system is infallible, there would always be a chance for a convicted murderer to murder again.
2. "Execution of an innocent is never acceptable." --> Murder of an innocent person in society by a previously convicted murderer is never acceptable.
3. "These types of evidence are not flawless, and my opponent has given no citation as to their accuracy." --> Prisons are not flawless and CON has pointed out some of their shortcomings.
4. "There will always be innocents who end up being executed, no matter the system." --> There will always be murderers with the chance to murder again, no matter the (prison) system.
5. "The only way to solve this is to get rid of the death penalty entirely." --> The only way to solve this is to implement capital punishment in every single case, in this way NO convicted murderer will EVER kill again.

A. We are actually dealing with the PUNISHMENT, and not about guilt or innocence in many cases. It is these cases that have not been addressed adequately by PRO. I would ask a cross examination type question of PRO: If we know they are guilty (confession etc.) then is capital punishment ok?

Thank You.
Debate Round No. 2
MTGandP

Pro

1. Rights

A. "Notice how my opponent is claiming that the laws that we have that make criminals go to jail are UNJUST, that somehow imprisoning someone who is violent (for example) is somehow unjust. How could that possibly be unjust? Answer = It isn't."
--My opponent is committing the fallacy of equivocation (http://www.fallacyfiles.org...). Although justice was well-defined at the beginning of the debate, I was using the word more casually. I meant that imprisonment is unjust to the prisoner. Overall it is less unjust than allowing the prisoner to run free, so it is a good policy, but rehabilitation -- if mastered -- would be a far more just technique. While we are talking about punishment, though, prison is far more just than the death penalty. Equating "unjust" with "bad" requires an unwarranted overgeneralization. More importantly, my opponent has failed to refute the main point that capital punishment is more unjust than life imprisonment.

"So what HAS to happen is that the guilty party has to have their right to liberty REVOKED (IF we are truly dealing with JUSTICE)."
I support rehabilitation, and would rather eliminate punishment entirely. But that aside, it is enough to simply reduce the right to liberty. It is not even entirely removed: prisoners have many freedoms. But the death penalty is the ultimate revocation. It is simply not necessary for the protection of society.

B. This is a completely irrelevant point. It only applies if the death penalty is shown to be more beneficial than life imprisonment, which it has not. It is morally upright or good to treat each citizen as well as possible; since imprisonment works at least as well as the death penalty, felons should be treated fairly and given imprisonment instead of execution.

"And it is a benefit to the society if a convicted killer is prevented from ever murdering again with 100% certainty."
True. But that extra fraction of a percentage of certainty that the death penalty holds over life imprisonment is not worth it. If a prisoner has a 0.5% chance of escaping and an even lower chance of killing someone, how is this not preferable choice to a 100% chance of killing a living human being with emotions and desires?

========

2. Costs

A. "The obvious advantage of capital punishment over life imprisonment is that it is 100% effective at preventing any additional murders."
This is a very small benefit which is outweighed by the problems and injustices caused by capital punishment.

B. "CON already pointed out last round that cost is irrelevant, and this was not disputed, extend my arguments."
It was refuted. See 2A in round 2.

I do not understand why my opponent has come back to mercy. I do not see its relevance. I see no arguments here, so I am unable to respond.

"As far as solitary confinement being utilized for prisoners who are especially dangerous: why isn't it used today then for all convicted murderers?"
I don't know. And this is not a legitimate argument.

I may as well drop the point about solitary confinement, since it was just an example of a way to isolate murderers, and isolating murderers only has a very small effect in terms of protecting others. My original point stands.

========

3. Innocents

My points, while short, still effectively refuted my opponent's arguments.

1. "No determination of guilt is infallible." --> "No imprisonment system is infallible, there would always be a chance for a convicted murderer to murder again." --> The imprisonment system has a 99.5% accuracy rate. The court system, at least when it comes to murder, has closer to a 90% accuracy rate (see previous rounds for data).
2. "Execution of an innocent is never acceptable." --> "Murder of an innocent person in society by a previously convicted murderer is never acceptable." --> This is an unreasonable perspective, since compromises must always be made. However, my opponent has illuminated the fact that my own perspective was unreasonable. Point 1, though, still stands. Furthermore, the killing of a person, even a felon, is not a justified response to a minute chance of that person killing someone else.
3. "These types of evidence are not flawless, and my opponent has given no citation as to their accuracy." --> "Prisons are not flawless and CON has pointed out some of their shortcomings." --> I have given a number as to the prison escape rates (0.5% and dropping) while my opponent has offered no citation.
4. "There will always be innocents who end up being executed, no matter the system." --> "There will always be murderers with the chance to murder again, no matter the (prison) system." --> As I have said, the prison system is much more secure than the justice system.
5. "The only way to solve this is to get rid of the death penalty entirely." --> "The only way to solve this is to implement capital punishment in every single case, in this way NO convicted murderer will EVER kill again." --> And just to be safe, we should execute every person who even has the chance of ever murdering someone.

"If we know they are guilty (confession etc.) then is capital punishment ok?"
No. See contentions one and two.

========

Conclusion

I have shown that the death penalty has minimal benefit, and comes at great cost. It is unjust to society and unjust to the individual to continue using capital punishment. Resolution affirmed. Vote Pro.

I thank my opponent for participating, and I thank the judges for reading and reviewing this debate.
heart_of_the_matter

Con

I thank the readers and the judges and also my opponent, and I have appreciated this opportunity to debate with him.

1. Rights

I acknowledge the explanation by PRO - that it was supposed to be from the prisoner's point of view. Well, that is sort of obvious, because of course, in the prisoner's eyes it isn't going to be good for him to lose his freedom. But from society's point of view it is VERY JUST to throw him in prison.

My opponent still could not seem to bring himself to state that throwing a criminal in prison is a "just" thing to do. PRO clearly did not show why it was NOT "just" regarding a criminal being thrown in jail (whereby his right to liberty was taken from him). This makes it clear that rights can be revoked through the law as penalties... to be meted out upon the guilty to the extent that they have offended. This is what a JUST society does. It matters not whether the right to be taken away is property, or liberty, or life. These are within the scope of authority of the law and are justifiable.

In response to quote by PRO: "...my opponent has failed to refute the main point that capital punishment is more unjust than life imprisonment."

--> I would say rather that PRO has failed to show why life imprisonment is more just than capital punishment. It is not CON's burden to show that anything needs to be changed. The status quo already allows the death penalty, and the burden of proof is on the instigator to show some reason why that policy should be changed. PRO has not met that burden, while in the meantime, CON has shown that capital punishment is completely just, making it certain that this point is rebutted completely.
=====================================================================

2. Costs

A. I am glad my opponent finally (grudgingly) acknowledged that there was a benefit in having capital punishment.

"This is a very small benefit which is outweighed ..."

--> Well, any family member who has had someone murdered by a convicted murderer who was out on parole for some reason wishes they had that "VERY SMALL" benefit so that their loved one was still alive:

Also the actual dollar costs are disputable, for example, in this realistic scenario, capital punishment is much cheaper:

Cost of Life Without Parole: Cases
Equivalent To Death Penalty Cases
$34,200/year (1) for 50 years (2), at
a 2% (3) annual cost increase, plus
$75,000 (4) for trial & appeals = $3.01 million

Cost of Death Penalty Cases
$60,000/year (1) for 6 years (5), at
a 2% (3) annual cost increase, plus
$1.5 million (4) for trial & appeals
= $1.88 million

http://www.prodeathpenalty.com... (1/2 way down page)

But why should money even be a factor at all when considering that people's lives hang in the balance? This contention itself is a minor point if it is a point at all. If there is even ONE life saved because a convicted murderer was given the death penalty rather than allowed to murder again then I would say that the small difference in cost was worth it (if it even would have cost more in the first place, which is disputable). What is important is that a just society chooses to do what is RIGHT regardless of the cost!
======================================================================

3. Innocents

Well....Cutting right to the heart of the matter here:

1. "No determination of guilt is infallible." --> "No imprisonment system is infallible, there would always be a chance for a convicted murderer to murder again." -->The imprisonment system has a 99.5% accuracy rate. The court system, at least when it comes to murder, has closer to a 90% accuracy rate (see previous rounds for data)."

-->In reviewing the sources from PRO it has been found that the source DPIC used by PRO in Round 1 is a questionable source:

Opponents claim that 69 "innocent" death row inmates have been released since 1973. ("Innocence and the Death Penalty", Death Penalty Information Center, July, 1997). Just a casual review, using the DPIC's own case descriptions, reveals that of 39 cases reviewed (Sec. A, B, & C, pg. 12-21), that the DPIC offers no evidence of innocence in 29, or 78%, of those cases. Incredibly, the DPIC reviews "Recent Cases of Possible Mistaken Executions" (p 23-24), wherein
they list the cases of Roger Keith Coleman, Leonel Herrera, and Jesse Jacobs - 3 cases which helped solidify the anti-death penalty movements penchant for lack of full disclosure and/or fraud. For the fourth case, therein, that of Coleman Wayne Gray, the DPIC makes no effort to claim innocence.

Furthermore, the DPIC and most opponents fail to review that the role of clemency and appeals in such cases is to judge the merits of death row inmates claims regarding innocence and/or additional trial error. Indeed, the release of those 69 inmates proves that such procedures worked precisely, and often generously, as intended. Also contrary to opponents claims, clemency is used generously to grant mercy to death row murderers and to spare inmates whose guilt has come into question. In fact, 135 death row inmates have been spared by clemency or commutation from 1973-95 (ibid.). This represents 43% of the total of those executed during that time - a remarkable record of consideration and mercy.

http://www.prodeathpenalty.com... (under letter A. 3rd and 4th para.)

PROs other source (in Round 2) admitted that in 1998 there were 6,530 prisoners in the USA who had escaped from state penitentiaries in that year. Since that was the year chosen by PRO it was probably a "good year" for keeping prisoners in, the number could very well be much higher if other years were examined.

In my opinion (and hopefully the readers and judges opinion as well) that is too many convicted criminals that have been allowed to escape. The simple fact of the matter is (quoting myself) "there would always be a chance for a convicted murderer to murder again."

2. "...my opponent has illuminated the fact that my own perspective was unreasonable. Point 1, though, still stands. Furthermore, the killing of a person, even a felon, is not a justified response to a minute chance of that person killing someone else.
--> actually that is an EXACTLY JUSTIFIED response to a murderer, it is the taking of a "life for a life" this is the DEFINITION of justice.

3. "I have given a number as to the prison escape rates (0.5% and dropping) while my opponent has offered no citation."

--> CON will now add in some other statistics for comparison:

"Of the roughly 52,000 state prison inmates serving time for murder in 1984, an estimated 810 had previously been convicted of murder and had killed 821 persons following their previous murder convictions. Executing each of these inmates would have saved 821 lives." (41, 1 Stanford Law Review, 11/88, pg. 153) Using a 75% murder clearance rate, it is most probable that the actual number of lives saved would have been 1026, or fifty times the number legally
executed that year. This suggests that some 10,000 persons have been murdered, since 1971, by those who had previously committed additional murders (JFA). See B.5.
http://www.prodeathpenalty.com...

5. "And just to be safe, we should execute every person who even has the chance of ever murdering someone."
--> a key distinction needs to be made here, don't execute EVERYONE!, only the CONVICTED MURDERERS!!! because they have proven themselves willing to murder, and able to murder, AND they are guilty of already murdering an innocent victim.
=================================================================

I congratulate my opponent on putting up a formidable defense of the resolution. I would, however, have to conclude that the resolution has been negated. I will now leave the matter in the hands of the judges and those who read it to see if they agree, and I would urge a vote for CON.
Debate Round No. 3
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by daniel_t 6 years ago
daniel_t
The principle contention seems to have come down to which is more economical, both in terms of monetary cost, and cost in innocents' lives between life in prison for the offender or death row.

* Both sides argued that their position was less expensive and provided sources, but Con did a better job of summarizing his source than Pro.

* Both sides argued that their position would cost fewer innocent lives, but their arguments and citations seemed inconclusive on this point.

Other contentions all revolved around assertions by each side without anything to back them up.
* Pro's assertion that the right to life trumps the death penalty was successfully countered by Con's assertion that all punishment by its nature restricts our so called inalienable rights.
* Con's assertion that a "life for a life" is just only works in select cases where someone killed only one person, but didn't explain what this means when one person kills many, and doesn't justify people who are on death row for offenses other than murder.

In summary, Con did a better job of arguing the cost issue, and the "right to life" issue, but lost on the "life for a life" issue. Overall arguments to Con.

Pro accused Con of several fallacies, but none of them seemed to apply. Meanwhile Con insisted that "the burden of proof is on the instigator to show some reason why that policy should be changed." Con's assertion here is silly, because the death penalty is far from universal.

In summary, I give conduct a tie.
Posted by Lifeisgood 7 years ago
Lifeisgood
I'm back. Here is an explanation for you, MTGandP.

Basically, all people in society wish to be happy, so there is a mutual unspoken agreement that they will not violate one another's 'rights', or what they hold most dearly. Now, when someone comes along and does violate these rights (commits a crime), he forfeits his own.

This is the basis of punishment. Punishment also serves the purpose of replicating the natural occurrence of 'consequences' (such as, when you play with fire, you get burnt). The offender and all those around him learn that that action is bad, and to be avoided.

Now, the degree in which an offender forfeits his rights, logically speaking, should be reciprocal to the degree in which he violates the other person's rights. Thus your justification for the death penalty.

My problem with the death penalty arises from the still real possibility of someone who is innocent being mistakenly killed.

Hope that does it.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
Asserting a right to life and then calling upon the assertion is not a good line of argument. There is no consensus on such a right existing, so it needs to be argued that there ought to be such a right. I think just asserting it is not prima facia, so it doesn't even need to be refuted. The weakest part of the debate for both sides was lack of references. Pro could cite countries that have no death penalty to support a claim that a right ought to be established. Con could cite that there seem to be no claimed instances of wrongful convictions since the mid-90s and that life imprisonment gives a free pass to murder inmates and guards, with cases cited. Well argued by both sides overall.
Posted by Lifeisgood 7 years ago
Lifeisgood
"Lifeisgood, I do not see what is hard to understand about that. I don't have the burden of proof here. If you don't get it, then explain to me why those who have committed a crime deserve to have their rights revoked."

Sorry. I was just shocked by how different your beliefs are than mine.

Darn it. I don't have time to respond at this moment. Too much going on. Tomorrow.

I'll be back...
Posted by MTGandP 7 years ago
MTGandP
Lifeisgood, I do not see what is hard to understand about that. I don't have the burden of proof here. If you don't get it, then explain to me why those who have committed a crime deserve to have their rights revoked.
Posted by Lifeisgood 7 years ago
Lifeisgood
"I have never understood the death penalty; why is it that people have their right to life revoked simply because they commit a crime? This logic does not follow."

Huh?
Posted by MTGandP 7 years ago
MTGandP
That's some really good feedback. Regarding the definition, I thought it was unreasonable to assume that a society ALWAYS acts in accordance with what is morally upright, so I thought it would be more applicable if defined somewhat differently.
Posted by jurist24 7 years ago
jurist24
This bothers me: "To elaborate on my original point, I would argue that imprisonment, while unjust, is sometimes necessary for the protection of society. Life, being the most fundamental right, should not be revoked unless absolutely necessary for the wellbeing of society." (PRO, R2.)

^-- This is a contention, and essentially the whole debate topic stated in a different way. It is not an argument. There is no logical analysis here. Simply stating your position is not an effective way to win debates.

The most troublesome facet of this debate was the lack of discussion about what is "just", "right", "moral", etc., in a society. Of all the great texts published on this topic, we the readers were offered NOTHING constructive or philosophical. Instead we were given quotes from biased nonprofits, fallacyfiles, and some news outlets. This is disappointing.

Further, why all the argument about tangential issues? For example, the issue about the possibility of executing an innocent is not properly suited for this debate. That should be explored in a debate about whether juries are appropriate in a just society because it is the jury that hands down the verdict. (Or, substitute 'jury' for the criminal law decision making body of your choice.)

PRO: Really?
"Just: acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good
Society: an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another"
BUT THEN, you define "just society" as "not necessarily a society that is always morally right (otherwise there would be no need for punishment), but is instead a society that is committed to working towards moral uprightness."
Aren't these 2 definitions incompatible? Why did you even bother giving the first definition if you were just going to give your own opinion with regard to the definition of a just society?
Posted by jurist24 7 years ago
jurist24
There are a lot of things about this debate that bother me so far. I hope they get addressed or corrected soon.
Posted by heart_of_the_matter 7 years ago
heart_of_the_matter
Ok I emailed Lwerd with the URL. This should be an interesting debate for me because I believe in the death penalty, but not for the reasons of justice or for vengeance, but rather for the reason of mercy. But I think the case for justice is pretty strong too, especially for debating purposes, so I'll see what I can do with it!
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