The Instigator
lilianhunter
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
numberwang
Pro (for)
Winning
12 Points

Death Penalty should be abolished in the US

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
numberwang
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/2/2014 Category: People
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,068 times Debate No: 55945
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
Votes (3)

 

lilianhunter

Con

Overall I believe the death penalty should be legal for a variety of reasons.
A. People may be under the impression that the death penalty is racially bias. But according to the NAACP, 56% of all executions in the US since 1976 are white men and woman. The other 44% is a variety of other ethnicity's.
B. Many say that the death penalty is the reason for debt in the US but according to Edwin H. Sutherland, PhD, late President of the American Sociological Society, and Donald R. Cressey, PhD, late Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in the 1974 revised edition of their book titled Criminology, wrote:
"It is not cheaper to keep a criminal confined, because most of the time he will appeal just as much causing as many costs as a convict under death sentence. Being alive and having nothing better to do, he will spend his time in prison conceiving of ever-new habeas corpus petitions, which being unlimited, in effect cannot be rejected as res judicata. The cost is higher."
Edwin H. Sutherland, PhD, late President of the American Sociological Society, and Donald R. Cressey, PhD, late Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in the 1974 revised edition of their book titled Criminology, wrote:
"It is not cheaper to keep a criminal confined, because most of the time he will appeal just as much causing as many costs as a convict under death sentence. Being alive and having nothing better to do, he will spend his time in prison conceiving of ever-new habeas corpus petitions, which being unlimited, in effect cannot be rejected as res judicata. The cost is higher."
C. In addition to, many people say it goes against our 8th amendment. "Cruel and Unusual Punishment" This is not considered cruel.
According to http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org... none of the execution methods are cruel. There is no pain involved.
LETHAL INJECTION
Two needles (one is a back-up) are then inserted into usable veins, usually in the inmates arms. Long tubes connect the needle through a hole in a cement block wall to several intravenous drips. The first is a harmless saline solution that is started immediately. Then, at the warden's signal, a curtain is raised exposing the inmate to the witnesses in an adjoining room. Then, the inmate is injected with sodium thiopental - an anesthetic, which puts the inmate to sleep. Next flows pavulon or pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes the entire muscle system and stops the inmate's breathing. Finally, the flow of potassium chloride stops the heart.
ELECTROCUTION
At postmortem, the body is hot enough to blister if touched, and the autopsy is delayed while the internal organs cool. There are third degree burns with blackening where the electrodes met the skin of the scalp and legs. According to Robert H. Kirschner, the deputy chief medical examiner of Cook County, "The brain appears cooked in most cases." (Weisberg, 1991)
THE GAS CHAMBER
The gas chamber is no longer an option due to the horrific history of the cruel death of innocent members in Germany, and other countries.
FIRING SQUAD
The person shot loses consciousness when shock causes a fall in the supply of blood to the brain.
HANGING
Is now only used in Delaware and Washington, but the rope snaps the second vertebra
and "shuts off" the heart
SOURCES
R. Bohm, "Deathquest: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Capital Punishment in the United States," Anderson Publishing, 1999.
W. Ecenbarger, "Perfecting Death: When the state kills it must do so humanely. Is that possible?," The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, January 23, 1994.
"Executions - Preparing Staff for the Hard Task Ahead," The Corrections Professional, Vol. 1, February 16, 1996.
H. Hillman, "The Possible Pain Experienced During Executions by Different Methods," 22 Perception 745 (1992).
J. Weisberg, "This is Your Death," The New Republic, July 1, 1991.
numberwang

Pro

I will thank my opponent for this debate and I hope it is a good one!

I will divide my arguments into 3 main points, the first of which I think is critically important.

P1- Death Penalty doesn't deter crime


If the death penalty should remain in the US, then the death penalty should deter crime. That is the point, a punishment is a deterrent, and to justify keeping a deterrent (especially an unethical deterrent like killing people), it should work. However, the death penalty doesn't work as a deterrent in the US.

A study from 1990-2009 took homicide rates and compared the states who had abolished the death penalty with those who hadn't. The states without the penalty have far better homicide records. They have had lower per capita homicide rates consistently, at times having up to 46% less homicides. They have seen a growing gap in homicide rates, with non penalty states having less on average. A comparison with non-penalty states and neighboring penalty states also shows that the non-penalty states have lower homicide rates; the best example is Iowa/Missouri, with 2.5 and 8 homicides per capita respectively (guess which one has the death penalty?).

An interesting example of a failure to deter crime is California, which saw an average increase in homicide of only 4.8% when there was no death penalty between 1968-91, while in 1952-67 saw an average increase in homicide of 10%. While the main cause of crime certainly wasn't the death penalty, the death penalty clearly wasn't doing anything to deter crime.

Another obvious example is that as a whole country, the US has a 4.8 per capita homicide rate, whilst North, West, and Southern Europe (these are actual divisions, Eastern Europe has 2 states with death penalty so they aren't counted here) have homicide rates between 1 and 1.5 per capita, and all states in these regions have abolished the death penalty.

And law enforcement officials do not believe that the death penalty is a good deterrent for criminals. When surveyed about detriments to law enforcement, only 2% believed that stifling the death penalty hurts law enforcement. A 1995 survey thought that only 1% thought that expanding the death penalty would reduce crime.

It seems fairly clear that the death penalty doesn't discourage crime, and since that is the objective of any punishment, it seems that the death penalty does not work as intended. When coupled with the other issues, there is a strong case for abolishing the death penalty.

http://bit.ly...
http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
http://nccadp.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...


P2- The state makes mistakes in many areas

In addition to not deterring crime, the death penalty If the state is to carry out the execution of anyone, then the state should be held to high expectations. In a situation where the life of the defendant is very literally at stake, the margin for error is 0, and if it can't be 0 then there shouldn't be a death penalty.

A 2008 study estimated that 4% of the total population of death row inmates (around 7000) would be exonerated if they received proper defense. They based their finding on the exoneration of 117 inmates over a period of 1974-2008, the resources applied to these appeals and the errors in convictions. The fact that 117 people were sentenced to death and later found to be innocent is scary enough, but the possibility of an additional 200 some innocent people being sentenced to death is scarier.

And there are a number of death sentences that were carried through despite serious doubt about the guilt of the executed. For example, Gary Graham was convicted for killing a robbery and murder outside of a supermarket, with testimony from only 1 eyewitness who claimed to have seen his face for a few seconds from 30-40 feet away. 2 other witnesses, store employees, said they had seen the killer and it was not Graham, but the defense lawyer never called these men as witnesses. Jurors interviewed later said they would not have convicted him had they heard all of the evidence. Graham was executed in 2000.

Leo Jones was convicted of murdering a police officer in Florida based on a confession he gave after hours of interrogation. Later, he claimed the confession was coerced. The officer who arrested him and the interrogator were later kicked off the force for ethical violations, and colleagues of the arresting officer said that he used torture. Witnesses also said that another man was the killer but Jones was executed in 1998.

Until the criminal justice system can near guarantee that death sentences will not be erroneously given or that innocent people will not be executed without an opportunity to rectify possible errors, the state should not give out the death penalty. All of these problems, all possibility for error and the killing of innocent people, is prevented by simply abolishing the death penalty, which doesn't deter crimes anyway.

Other issues come up in execution with the 8th amendment, which protects from "cruel and unusual punishment". Although executions are not necessarily cruel or unusual, there are often botched executions, especially with lethal injections (the main form of execution in the US), which make executions cruel. For example, a recent botched execution in OK of Clay Lockett, in which the victim (for lack of a better word) was knocked out by the first drug, ended up taking 40 minuets with Lockett mumbling, trying to get up, writing in pain and eventually dying of an unintended heart attack. That undeniably qualifies as cruel. If the state cannot administer capital punishment constitutionally there should be no capital punishment, period.

http://www.pnas.org...
http://onforb.es...
http://bit.ly...
http://on.wsj.com...

P3- It's expensive

Multiple studies done by various states have shown that the death penalty sentences are more expensive than life without parole sentences.

California did a study in 2008 that showed their current system of capital punishment cost $137 million a year. To reform the system so that it would avoid the type of errors mention in P2, the cost would be $237.2 million. Restricting the crimes that would qualify for the death penalty would result in a system that cost only $130 million. However, the cost of a life with no parole system with no death penalty would only cost $11.5 million a year. That is roughly a tenth of the cost of their current system. That's a lot of dough for a system which has convicted innocent people and does not deter crime.

A Maryland study, a state with 5 total executions, found that a case for the death penalty cost $3 million to taxpayers, $1.9 million more than non-death cases.

A Nevada study found that death penalty murder cases cost $229,800 for a public defender and $287,250 for appointed counsel. That turns out to be $170,000 and $212,000 more per case compared to non-death penalty murder cases.

Federal cases involving the penalty cost on average $620,000, 8 times more than non death penalty cases. Additionally, when defendants spend less than $320,000 on defense, they are guilty 44% of the time, whereas if they spend more they are only guilty 19% of the time. Underrepresented people are more likely to be found guilty because of cost rather than actual guilt.

These are only a few of very numerous examples, which I can get into later but I am near the character limit. The point is that death penalty cases cost more to the states than non-death penalty cases, and we have already established that the death penalty do not have a deterring effect (P1) and there is error in the system when there should absolutely not be (P2). Is it really worth the extra cost? I think not.

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
http://www.ccfaj.org...
Debate Round No. 1
lilianhunter

Con

To start off, I will discuss the history of the death penalty. The first established death penalty laws date as far back as the Eighteenth Century B.C. in the code of King Hammaurabi of Babylon, which codified the death penalty for 25 different crimes. Death sentences were carried out by such means as crucifixion, boiling, beheading, burning alive, and impalement, etc.

In the 10th century A.D., hanging became the peculiar method of execution in Britain. In the following century, William the Conqueror would not allow persons to be hanged or otherwise executed for any crime, except in times of war. This trend would not last, for in the Sixteenth Century, under the reign of Henry VIII, as many as 72,000 people are estimated to have been executed. Britain influenced America's use of the death penalty more than any other country. The first recorded execution in the new colonies was that of Captain George Kendall in the Jamestown colony of Virginia in 1608. Kendall was executed for being a spy for Spain.

Today, the death penalty continues to be an issue of controversy, but the number of people that are for the death penalty continues to grow. An example of this is the law that passed in 1994. As part of an omnibus crime bill, the federal death penalty was expanded to some 60 different offenses. Among the federal crimes for which people in any state or territory of the U.S. can receive a death sentence are murder of certain government officials, kidnapping resulting in death, murder for hire, fatal drive-by shootings, sexual abuse crimes resulting in death, car jacking resulting in death, and certain crimes not resulting in death, including the running of a large-scale drug enterprise. This is not cruel nor unusual.
numberwang

Pro

I don't think I have anything to say to that. My opponent presents a history of the death penalty. That is fantastic, but it is totally irrelevant.

P1-Not an effective deterrent

My opponent offers 0 evidence to contradict anything claimed about the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of the death penalty. If the death penalty is not effective, it should not remain legal.

P2-Mistakes

My opponent has failed to address anything about the mistakes made in sentencing and conviction of death penalty cases, or the instances of mistakes in actual the actual executions. If the death penalty cannot be administered constitutionally, and the law cannot be applied fairly without error, the death penalty should not remain law.

P3-Cost

My opponent didn't respond to any of the multiple studies about the expensiveness of the death penalty, or the fact that other means are cheaper. If the death penalty is not deterring crime, and many mistakes are made, then there should be no money wastefully spent on the death penalty because other means are cheaper.


Barring any response to these points, I think the votes will have to go my way. The death penalty is not effective, it is not applied correctly, and it is not cheap. For these reasons it should be repealed.
Debate Round No. 2
lilianhunter

Con

"Not an effective deterrent"
According to
http://www.prodeathpenalty.com...
Yes, it is an effective deterrent.
It speaks for itself.
"Mistakes"
Yes there has been mistakes of accusing an innocent person and imprisoning them, and maybe a few executions but is that the death penalty's fault? No. It is simply the fault of the judicial system.
At least 4 percent of all people who receive the death penalty are innocent, if a new study is right.
http://www.forbes.com...
This is not dated studies. This is since mankind, or however long they can trace back the death penalty for.
And also, digging deeper in to that study I found that most of that 3/4 of that percentage gets pulled from death row due to proof of innocence before execution.
Bedau, Hugo. The death Penalty in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Print.
"Cost"
According to Charles M. Harris, JD, Senior Judge of the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Florida, published the following in an opinion piece for The Gainesville Sun, on Apr. 18, 2012, available at gainesville.com:
"Death by execution is excessively expensive. Most people who support the death penalty believe it is more cost effective than life in prison. Perhaps at one time, when executions were swift and sure, this may have been the case. It is not now. Most people knowledgeable about the subject will agree that the delay now built into the system, more trial preparation, much longer time to get to trial, much longer jury selections and trials, much more complicated and far more frequent appeals, and continuous motions, have increased the cost of capital punishment so that it is now many times the cost of keeping a prisoner in prison for life."
And
Eight members of the 23-member California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice study titled "Report and Recommendations on the Administration of the Death Penalty in California," signed a June 30, 2008 supplement indicating their personal objections to the death penalty. Those eight members were Diane Bellas, JD, Alameda County Public Defender; Rabbi Allen I. Freehling, Executive Director at the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission; Michael Hersek, JD, California State Public Defender; Bill Ong Hing, JD Professor at UC Davis School of Law; Michael P. Judge, JD, Los Angeles County Public Defender; Michael Laurence, JD, Executive Director of the Habeas Corpus Resource Center; John Moulds, JD, US Magistrate Judge of the US District Court " Eastern District of California; and Douglas Ring, Businessman Founder of The Ring Group. The supplement stated in part:
"The resources that go into a death penalty case are enormous. The pursuit of execution adds millions at each phase of the process, from trial, to appeal, and habeas proceedings. For example, a death penalty trial costs counties at least $1.1 million more than a conventional murder trial. The state spends at least an additional $117 million a year on capital punishment, about half of it on prison expenses that exceed the usual costs of housing inmates and the rest on arguing and judging death penalty appeals.

The costs mount because death penalty trials and appeals take far longer than others, involve more lawyers, investigators and expert witnesses, and displace other cases from courtrooms. In contrast, adopting a maximum penalty of life without possibility of parole (for which there is growing sentiment) would incur only a fraction of the death penalty costs, including prison expenses."
http://deathpenalty.procon.org...
numberwang

Pro

My opponent is hardly making any arguments, and at this point he is restating facts.

P1-Deterrence


My opponent posted a graph. You may or may not have looked at the graph because he did not really talk about what it was or what it meant. So I guess I will explain.

The graph showed that, around the same time that the number of homicides decreased, the number of executions started to increase. However, this implied causation where there is only correlation, and this doesn't do anything to dispute my evidence.

My evidence showed that states with no death penalty have less homicide than states who do. The gap has grown for a while and it has been consistent. Yes, the entire country has seen a decrease in overall homicide. But states with no death penalty have had consistently less homicide overall, and they had a difference in the decrease and they had a faster decrease and have lower death homicide rates! My opponent has not disputed this. Why would states with no penalty have lower homicide rates across the board consistently for a long period of time of the death penalty was the deterrent that is keeping people from murder? That wouldn't happen if the penalty was a deterrent, it can be concluded that it isn't a deterrent.

P2-Mistakes

My opponent gives one of the sources I gave to prove there are mistakes. He admits there are mistakes. He doesn't even attempt to justify these mistakes and doesn't give any reason as to why there should be a system which sentences innocent people to death in the United States.

P3-Cost

My opponent is very correct, the death penalty costs lots and lots of money. Is the death penalty worth lots and lots of money? No, because it is a far from perfect system and it does not deter crime effectively effectively. My opponent even makes the point for me that life-imprisonment costs a fraction of what the death penalty does.


I hardly know what we are debating, my opponent has conceded 2 of 3 points of my argument. His contention on P1 is explained by the overall drop in homicides in the US, and it his assertion is shown wrong when you look at individual state's homicide rates and compare death penalty states and non-penalty states, where non-penalty states outperform penalty states.

I think that votes must go pro's way, con is hardly making a case at all.
Debate Round No. 3
lilianhunter

Con

lilianhunter forfeited this round.
numberwang

Pro

In addition to failing to address most of my points my opponent has forfeited another round, so I'll just carry all of my points from the last round forward. And in case he doesn't come back, vote pro (after round 5)!
Debate Round No. 4
lilianhunter

Con

lilianhunter forfeited this round.
numberwang

Pro

Con ff'ed and failed to address pretty much all of my points. I have shown that the death penalty is not a deterrent, we have agreed that it often is given to innocent people (too often for it to be legal anyway) and we have agreed that it is more expensive than life sentencing. Is a penalty which does not deter crime worth the extra cost in the lives of innocent people and taxpayer money? I think not.

Vote Pro!
Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by lilianhunter 2 years ago
lilianhunter
Margolis, Eric S. "Stalin is the Century's Bloodiest Figure." The People's Voice. 21 Jan. 2008. 26 May 2009 .

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. "Death Row USA" October 1, 2013
Posted by numberwang 2 years ago
numberwang
17 characters remaining, not too shabby.
Posted by thett3 2 years ago
thett3
I'll devils advocate Aff
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 2 years ago
Blade-of-Truth
lilianhunternumberwangTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by Raymond_Reddington 2 years ago
Raymond_Reddington
lilianhunternumberwangTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit
Vote Placed by Cold-Mind 2 years ago
Cold-Mind
lilianhunternumberwangTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: As pro said in round 5.