The Instigator
AndrewB686
Pro (for)
Winning
5 Points
The Contender
Alexandrethegreat
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Capital punishment is a flawed system

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
AndrewB686
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/24/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,611 times Debate No: 41141
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)

 

AndrewB686

Pro

-For this debate I would like to discuss the flawed nature of capital punishment.

-I will be arguing in favor eliminating this barbaric practice from society, as well as argue in favor of instituting a new, pragmatic form of discipline.

Capital punishment is defined as the death penalty for a crime
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

-First round is for acceptance and opening statements
-Second round is for arguments
-Third round is for rebuttals and closing arguments
-Final round is for conclusions and ending statements
Alexandrethegreat

Con

I will be arguing in favour of capital punishment and the benefits of capital punishment.

... by the hat do you mean by "flawed"? As in biased or corrupt?
Debate Round No. 1
AndrewB686

Pro

-I apologize for my ambiguity in defining flawed.

By flawed I am referring to it being the following:
-Ineffective financially and is a waste of time
-Fails to operate as a deterrent
-Results in the unnecessary deaths of innocent individuals
-Violates our right to not be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment

1) Ineffective financially and is a waste of time

-Capital punishment is an ineffective method of punishment. The expenses required by the court and the amount of money stemming from the taxpayer that is squandered is exponential. Life in prison without parole, while not ideal, is a more efficient and cost effective way of containing a criminal.
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"A new study of the cost of the death penalty in Colorado revealed that capital proceedings require six times more days in court and take much longer to resolve than life-without-parole (LWOP) cases. The study, published in the University of Denver Criminal Law Review, found that LWOP cases required an average of 24.5 days of in-court time, while the death-penalty cases required 147.6 days. The authors noted that selecting a jury in an LWOP case takes about a day and a half; in a capital case, jury selection averages 26 days. In measuring the comparative time it takes to go from charging a defendant to final sentencing, the study found that LWOP cases took an average of 526 days to complete; death cases took almost 4 calendar years longer--1,902 days. The study found that even when a death-penalty case ends in a plea agreement and a life sentence, the process takes a year and a half longer than an LWOP case with a trial.

(J. Marceau and H. Whitson, "The Cost of Colorado's Death Penalty," 3 Univ. of Denver Criminal Law Review 145 (2013)).

California

Assessment of Costs by Judge Arthur Alarcon and Prof. Paula Mitchell (2011, updated 2012)

The authors concluded that the cost of the death penalty in California has totaled over $4 billion since 1978:
"$1.94 billion--Pre-Trial and Trial Costs
"$925 million--Automatic Appeals and State Habeas Corpus Petitions
"$775 million--Federal Habeas Corpus Appeals
"$1 billion--Costs of Incarceration

The authors calculated that, if the Governor commuted the sentences of those remaining on death row to life without parole, it would result in an immediate savings of $170 million per year, with a savings of $5 billion over the next 20 years."

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...

2) Fails to operate as a deterrent

-One of the main arguments in favor of capital punishment is its supposed ability to deter future crime. This is not the case, and it can be shown statistically that states without the death penalty have lower homicide rates than those that possess the death penalty. Deterrence is not achieved by condemning one to death; the laborious and cumbersome system delays the process and proves ineffective in lowering crime.

"One argument in support of capital punishment is that the threat of death deters murder more effectively than prison. However, research indicates that the death penalty is no more effective as a deterrent to murder than the punishment of life in jail. States with the death penalty on average do not have lower rates of homicide than states without the penalty. The average murder rate per 100,00 people in 1999 among death penalty states was 5.5 and the average murder rate among non-death penalty states was 3.6 (US Dept. of Justice, 2001). A study examining executions in Texas between 1984 and 1997 found that the murder rate was steady and that there was no evidence of a deterrent effect. The number of executions was found to be unrelated to murder rates (Sorenson, Wrinkle, Brewer and Marquart, 1999). Furthermore, a survey of experts from the American Society of Criminology, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and the Law and Society Association shows that the overwhelming majority of these experts do not believe that the death penalty is a proven deterrent to homicide. Over 80% believe the existing research fails to support a deterrence justification for the death penalty. Similarly, over 75% of those polled do not believe that increasing the number of executions, or decreasing the time spent on death row before execution, would produce a general deterrent effect (Radelet and Akers, 1995). Additionally, Attorney General Janet Reno stated at a Justice Department news briefing, "I have inquired for most of my adult life about studies that might show that the death penalty is a deterrent. And I have not seen any research that would substantiate that point." (US Dept. of Justice, 2001)."

http://www.uvm.edu...
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"An early approach consisted of comparing homicide rates in states with and
without capital punishment, choosing groups of neighboring states as nearly
alike as possible in other respects. Such comparisons were made by Thorsten
Sellin for the years from 1920 to 1958.4 This method is a far cry from the
controlled experiment performed to test the Salk vaccine, since "other things
being equal" is never exactly true when comparing units as large and varied
as states. Still, if deterrence plays a significant role its effect should show up
as lower homicide rates in the death penalty states when compared to
similar, neighboring abolition states. Here are Sellin's conclusions:

The data examined reveal that

1. The level of the homicide death rates varies in different groups of states. It is lowest in the
New England areas and in the northern states of the middle west and lies somewhat higher in
Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.

2. Within each group of states having similar social and economic conditions and populations, it
is impossible to distinguish the abolition state from the others.

3. The trends of the homicide death rates of comparable states with or without the death penalty
are similar.

The inevitable conclusion is that executions have no discernible effect on homicide death rates
which, as we have seen, are regarded as adequate indicators of capital murder rates."

www.dartmouth.edu/~chance/teaching_aids/books_articles/JLpaper.pdf

3) Results in the unnecessary deaths of innocent individuals

-Countless examples exist in the archives of history in which innocent men and women have been executed unfairly. Men and women exonerated after their deaths, biased witnesses provide false accounts in order to appease some higher power, and discrimination against minorities or prejudice against those with past offenses.

"Unfortunately innocent people are often placed on death row. In a study of executions in 34 states between 1973 and 1995, Columbia University professor James Liebman found that: 'An astonishing 82 percent of death row inmates did not deserve to receive the death penalty. One in twenty death row inmates is later found not guilty.' Most death row inmates do not have the resources or time necessary to determine their innocence before it is too late."

http://madamenoire.com...
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Alabama: Daniel Wade Moore, acquitted in 2009 "When Moore was originally found guilty for murder and sexual assault of Karen Tipton in 2002 he was sentenced to death by the judge overruling the jury's original consensus. However, he was acquitted in 2009 when 256 pages of withheld evidence were finally revealed.

Texas: Anthony Graves, charges dismissed in 2010 " Graves was convicted in 1994 of assisting Robert Carter in multiple murders in 1992. There was no physical evidence linking Graves to the crimes, and his conviction relied on Carter's testimony that Graves was his accomplice, a claim Carter later recanted. In 2006 it was found that prosecuters elicited false statements and withheld testimony that could have influenced the jurors. A special prosecutor hired to re-examine the case said "we found not one piece of credible evidence that links Anthony Graves to the commission of this capital murder. He is an innocent man."

Florida: Seth Penalver, acquitted in 2012 " Penalver was arrested in 1994 for the brutal murder of three individuals. There was no physical evidence linking him to the murder; the only "evidence" police had was a poor-quality video in which the murderer's face could not be seen. He remained in custody until 2012 when the jury at his most recent trial acquitted him of all charges.

http://www.amnestyusa.org...

4) Violates our right to life and our right to not be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment

Cruel and Unusual Punishment:

Such punishment as would amount to torture or barbarity, any cruel and degrading punishment not known to the Common Law, or any fine, penalty, confinement, or treatment that is so disproportionate to the offense as to shock the moral sense of the community.

"The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment for federal crimes. The amendment states, "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted." The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars the states from inflicting such punishment for state crimes, and most state constitutions also prohibit the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment."

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com...

(I will explain in the next round why capital punishment is cruel and unusual punishment)

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

http://www.un.org...
Alexandrethegreat

Con

1) The death penalty gives prosecutors another bargaining chip in the plea bargain process, which is essential in cutting costs in an overcrowded court system. The number of criminal cases that are plea bargained (meaning the accused admits guilt in return for a lesser sentence or some other concession) can be as high as 80 or 90 percent of cases. With the time, cost, and personnel requirements of a criminal case, there really isn't much of a choice. The vast majority of people that are arraigned are in fact guilty of the crime they are accused. Even if you believe a defendant only deserves life in prison, without the threat of a death sentence, there may be no way to get him to plead guilty and accept the sentence. If a case goes to trial, in addition to the enormous cost, you run the chance that you may lose the case, meaning a violent criminal gets off cost free. The existence of the death penalty gives prosecutors much more flexibility and power to ensure just punishments.
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2) It creates another form of crime deterrent. Crime would run rampant as never before if there wasn't some way to deter people from committing the acts. Prison time is an effective deterrent, but with some people, more is needed. Prosecutors should have the option of using a variety of punishments in order to minimize crime.
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3) Justice is better served. The most fundamental principle of justice is that the punishment should fit the crime. When someone plans and brutally murders another person, doesn't it make sense that the punishment for the perpetrator also be death - i.e. an "eye for an eye" policy.
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4) Our justice system shows more sympathy for criminals than it does victims. It's time we put the emphasis of our criminal justice system back on protecting the victim rather than the accused. Remember, a person who's on death row has almost always committed crimes before this. A long line of victims have been waiting for justice. We need justice for current and past victims.
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I will explain in the next round why capital punishment is a cost-effective and fair punishment.

Letter sent from President Abraham Lincoln to Henry L Pierce and others (6 April 1859):
"Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it."
Debate Round No. 2
AndrewB686

Pro

-Thank you to my opponent for his presentation.
-I will now form rebuttals to my opponent's arguments and further extrapolate on a couple of my points.

Contention 1:

-As I explained in the previous round, the costs of a trial in which the death penalty is the intended sentence greatly exceeds one in which life without parole is the intended sentence.

The authors concluded that the cost of the death penalty in California has totaled over $4 billion since 1978:
"$1.94 billion--Pre-Trial and Trial Costs
"$925 million--Automatic Appeals and State Habeas Corpus Petitions
"$775 million--Federal Habeas Corpus Appeals
"$1 billion--Costs of Incarceration

The authors calculated that, if the Governor commuted the sentences of those remaining on death row to life without parole, it would result in an immediate savings of $170 million per year, with a savings of $5 billion over the next 20 years."

-The death penalty is by no means financially efficient or cost effective. The expenditures of all the processes listed above are exponentially higher than they would be for a trial with a lesser sentence.

-Your use of words such as "just" and "flexibility" to describe the punishment and the prosecutors ability to achieve the desired sentence respectively are unsubstantiated claims. You provide no statistical data nor do you provide any empirical evidence to support your assertions.

Contention 2:

-Again, as I described in the previous round capital punishment does not serve as a deterrent. Crime would, by no means, run "rampant" as you said in your argument. I will provide more statistics that were not presented in the last round to further support my contention.

Year 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006

Murder Rate in Death Penalty States*
9.5| 9.94 | 9.51 | 9.69 | 9.23 | 8.59 | 7.72 | 7.09 | 6.51 | 5.86 | 5.70 | 5.82 | 5.82 | 5.91 | 5.71 | 5.87 | 5.9

Murder Rate in Non-death Penalty States
9.16| 9.27 | 8.63 | 8.81 | 7.88 | 6.78 | 5.37 | 5.00 | 4.61 | 4.59 | 4.25 | 4.25 | 4.27 | 4.10 | 4.02 | 4.03 | 4.22

Percent Difference
4% | 7% | 10% | 10% | 17% | 27% | 44% | 42% | 41% | 28% | 35% | 37% | 36% | 44% | 42% | 46% | 40%

http://www.deathpenalty.org...

-As this data shows, the death penalty does not serve as a deterrent. In contrast, states without the death penalty have lower murder rates than states that possess the death penalty.

Contention 3:

"Justice is better served"

-Why is this "eye for an eye" policy that pervades the minds of conservative fundamentalists morally acceptable?The "most fundamental principle of justice" should not be reciprocal punishment. By that logic a rapist should be raped in number the amount of victims that suffered under his brutality. If a man beats his wife, should he be beaten repeatedly by law enforcement?

-Punishment should operate to rehabilitate the criminal; it's not pragmatic to condemn a man to death for a crime when he could possibly be resurrected from the misery and contempt that surrounds him. This eye for an eye policy does nothing to benefit of society, instead it creates an expensive system that does no justice to the criminal. The victim should be honored and remembered by allowing the individual who victimized him to contribute positively to society.

Contention 4:

-I already expounded upon this in my previous rebuttal. My opinion and your opinion of justice differs greatly; justice should not be focused solely upon the victim, instead it should be counterbalanced by an attempt to rehabilitate the perpetrator. I do believe that justice needs to be served, but not in the manner in which you propose.

-Another thing I wish to point out, you make claims such as "Our justice system shows more sympathy for criminals than it does victims" and "a person who's on death row has almost always committed crimes before this." that are not supported by anything attestable to observation. Your claims are based off of opinion and personal belief rather than anything I can perceive to be true.

Why capital punishment is cruel and unusual punishment:

-The act of lethal injection is, in today's modern society, the most common form of execution.

"Lethal injection is now virtually the universal method of execution in the United States, with all of the 43 executions carried out during 2011 being by this method. Of the 1,279 executions in the USA to the end of 2011, 1,103 have been by lethal injection, including those of ten women.

http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org...

-The excruciating pain and untested nature of the new cocktails most assuredly qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment. The torment and agony that these individuals are subjected to should be abolished in order to remain in accordance with the 8th amendment.

"The executioner, usually a person injecting the drugs manually (lethal injection machines are no longer in widespread use due to the possibility of mechanical failure), injects three drugs in sequence:

1. 1.5g Pentothol (sodium thiopental), which is intended to induce a coma.
2.100mg Pavulon (pancuronium bromide), which causes paralysis.
3.100 mEq potassium chloride, which stops the heart."

"Pentothol does not always induce a coma, leaving the disturbing possibility that at least some prisoners killed by lethal injection may experience extreme pain due to the administration of potassium chloride--without any means of expressing that pain, thanks to the paralysis brought about by the Pavulon. For this reason, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hill v. Crosby (2006) that death row prisoners may challenge lethal injection procedures under the Eighth Amendment."

http://civilliberty.about.com...

"Lethal injection can cause excruciating pain. Since the first lethal injection on December 7, 1982, over 1,000 prisoners in the USA have been executed by this method and it has all but replaced other methods of execution.

In the USA, a number of lethal injection executions have been botched. Some executions have lasted between 20 minutes to over an hour and prisoners have been seen gasping for air, grimacing and convulsing during executions. Autopsies have shown severe, foot long chemical burns to the skin and needles have been found in soft tissue."

http://www.amnestyusa.org...

-Lethal injection also requires the attendance of medical professionals. This requirement directly violates the long-established Hippocratic Oath that has served as a model of medical practice for ages.

"Lethal injection was designed to prevent many of the disturbing images associated with other forms of execution. However, lethal injection increases the risk that medical personnel will be involved in killing for the state, in breach of long-standing principles of medical ethics.

Virtually all codes of professional ethics which consider the death penalty oppose health professional participation. Despite this, health professionals are required by law in many death penalty states to assist executions and in some cases have carried out the killings."

http://www.amnestyusa.org...

-Justice should be served in the form of containment and attempted rehabilitation. The possibility of transforming a vile, culpable criminal into a productive member of society triumphs over death for mere "retribution" or "deterrence". I realize the possibility for failure exists; however, life within the confines of a prison, with the potential to never see the outside world again, serves a more humane and just form of punishment.

http://deathpenalty.procon.org...

-The following presents a proposed plan that effectively conveys my beliefs regarding the treatment of criminals.

National Research Has Identified Several Best Practices for Inmate Rehabilitation:

Correctional agencies should assess inmates" needs using validated risk and needs assessment instruments:

Correctional agencies should assess inmates" criminogenic needs using validated risk and needs assessment instruments. This assessment should identify inmates who have a high risk to recidivate and each offender"s rehabilitative needs so that an agency can direct its resources to offenders with the highest risk.

Correctional agencies should focus programs on inmate attributes directly related to criminal behavior:

Rehabilitative services should target offender attributes that are directly related to criminal behavior, such as substance abuse, criminal thinking, and lack of education.

Correctional agencies should develop individualized release plans to facilitate offender reentry into society:

Correctional agencies should develop individualized release plans that identify the basic support services the inmate needs after release, such as housing and transportation, and provide strategies for accessing these services.

Correctional agencies should evaluate rehabilitative programs and provider performance:

Correctional agencies should collect inmate-specific data on program participation and use this information to measure and regularly report on program performance, including program completion rates, intermediate outcomes (e.g., earning a general education development diploma), long-term outcomes (e.g., recidivism rate, employment success), and cost-effectiveness. Agencies should also hold providers of rehabilitative programs accountable for client outcomes and regularly report provider performance to the state legislatures.

Source: OPPAGA analysis of national research focusing on correctional rehabilitative program practice.

-Thank you to my opponent for taking the time to participate in this debate and I look forward to hearing your rebuttals.

-Best of luck

-AndrewB686
Alexandrethegreat

Con

Alexandrethegreat forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
AndrewB686

Pro

-Because my opponent presented no rebuttals to any of my arguments concerning the subject, I will assume he has forfeited the entire debate. It is a shame my opponent conceded. I will extend all of my arguments due to my opponent's failure to present any new information.

-To all the voters out there, vote pro.
Alexandrethegreat

Con

Alexandrethegreat forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by dtaylor971 3 years ago
dtaylor971
AndrewB686AlexandrethegreatTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Due to forfeit, con wins.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
AndrewB686AlexandrethegreatTied
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.