The Instigator
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The Contender
Pro (for)
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Death Penalty

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/30/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,134 times Debate No: 33113
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




There are many reasons why we should abolish the death penalty. It is expensive, cruel, flawed, and not doing anyone any favors. Skeptical? Maybe the following facts will change your mind!

1. It's expensive. As of April 30th, 2013, the US National Debt is over 16 trillion dollars. We can't afford to add to this tremendous amount! In California ALONE, over $4 BILLION dollars were spent on capital punishment ITSELF since 1978. And $184 million has been additionally spent EVERY YEAR in California on the capital trials, security on death row, and legal representation. In Maryland, taxpayers have spent AT LEAST $186 million on the death penalty since 1978.

2. It's inhumane. Many execution methods are cruel. Take the gas chamber, for example. "At first there is evidence of extreme horror, pain, and strangling. Their eyes pop. The skin turns purple and the victim begins to drool." says Clifton Duffy, former Penitentiary warden of San Quenton, California. Hanging is also an unacceptable means of capital punishment. According to "Executions- Preparing Staff for the Hard Time Ahead" and J. Weisburg, author of "This is Your Death," execution by hanging is rarely instantaneous, and that " If the inmate has strong neck muscles, is very light, if the 'drop' is too short, or the noose has been wrongly positioned, the fracture-dislocation is not rapid and death results from slow asphyxiation. If this occurs the face becomes engorged, the tongue protrudes, the eyes pop, the body defecates, and violent movements of the limbs occur." The firing squad is no better. The shooter is supposed to aim for the inmate's heart for a more human means of killing, but if they miss, the inmate slowly bleeds to death. Lethal Injection may sound like a good option, then, if a death without pain is best, but it's risky. The chemical that kills the inmate is supposed to be injected into a working vein so the death is painless, but sometimes, the needle is mistakenly injected into their muscle. This causes an extremely painful death. These methods of executions clearly show that execution is torturous and inhumane.

3. Many executed people are actually innocent. According to Columbia University professor James Liebman, 5% of inmates executed are later found to be innocent. 5%! This is similar to 1 student in every classroom at an elementary school being killed. 1 in 20 people are killed, sometimes torturously, for only seeming guilty. This is NOT in any means acceptable.

4. It's not justice. Many families of murder victims are against the death penalty. One is Aba Gayle, whose teenage daughter Catherine Blout was murdered by Douglas Mickey. Says Gayle, "I did not want state-sanctioned murder to tarnish the life of my beautiful child." Another is Vicki Schieber, whose daughter was murdered in Pennsylvania in 1998, who disagrees with the death penalty, saying "The system is just too painful." Many families of murder victims agree that the money annually wasted on the death penalty could be used to help counsel and support survivors.

The death penalty is wrong on many counts, such as its over the top pricing, its cruelty, its murdering of innocent people, and its inability to serve justice.

If two wrongs don't make a right, why do we murder murderers? Why do we kill to show that killing is wrong?


Today I will be arguing against the allegation that the death penalty ought be abolished in the United States.

Now, when a person kills another, they obviously cannot live in our society ever again. We can all agree on that. At this point we have to choose one of two options: To sentence them to life in prison, or to sentence them to death. So when we have another option at hand, why are we so keen to kill them? Because of a point my opposition mentioned, it's too expensive. Now while some would have you believe that the death penalty is an expensive process. In context, next to life in prison, the cost of death is cheap. Food, a cell, electricity... all these things go into inmate's survival, with taxpayers losing $1.5 million on average to every single life sentence. Does a lethal dose of drugs cost $1.5 million? Of course not. If drugs (the only way executions are held in the US this day and age) cost too much for your taste, there are other methods of execution to consider. Bullets are only a few cents each, for example.

This brings me to my next point. Executions are absolutely, 100% humane. Like I said, executions are only done by lethal injection in the US today, which involves a painless, falling asleep like sensation that ends in death. My opposition mentions gas chambers, hanging, firing squads, and finally the relevant issue of lethal injection. Only the ladder matters to us here in the United States, and it rarely fails as it is explained. I will advocate for firing squads, however, because they are the only provided means of execution that is plausible for use today. There seems to be a misunderstanding in how firing squads work. It is a firing squad, meaning there are multiple shooters. If one of the usually seven men misses, so what? There are six other bullets entering the heart at the same time. You can't not kill the inmate.

And while we have so far not seen any decent reasons why the death penalty is bad, we can't dispute over the fact that there are innocent people executed. However, this is not an issue with the death penalty, but the justice system. With modern DNA testing, we can be absolutely sure if the accused is innocent, and absolutely sure if he is guilty. We're targeting the wrong thing with this very pressing issue, even though it is dwindling with technology. I would also like to ask the opposition why he or she compared elementary school students to convicted murderers, which seems to be irrelevant.

Finally, I would like to point out that justice is not important. We are doing justice with either one of the two options presented above (life sentence or death sentence), although one seems to some not to be so. If we are worried about the economy, the death penalty is best. If we are worried about being humane, death penalty (in specific forms) is best. It seems to me that my opposition is seeking death penalty reform to ensure indisputable evidence is presented for it to be used, and humane methods to be used (the best of which being firing squads). Abolishing the death penalty won't solve these problems, just fill our prisons and damage our economy. I would even argue death is more humane in some cases than being locked up forever in a prison, which can cause physiological problems.

The death penalty is an affordable, sensible, and humane means of justice. Life sentencing hurts our wallets, their mind, and all of our prisons capacities. Is it really so wrong to humanely and peacefully bring someone's life to an end, when they have likely brutally murdered another? In many ways, we're doing ourselves a favor. We're doing them a favor.
Debate Round No. 1


DebateKate forfeited this round.


It is a disappointment to me and hopefully the audience that my opponent has chosen to ignore the second round and forfeit. I was looking forward to seeing the response to my contentions, but hopefully we shall see this in the third round provided my opponent arrives in time. Until then, I would like to point out that this is a lacking in the punctuality and credibility of my opposition, and I therefore encourage the voters to support the Pro side of the debate. Thank you, and I hope to see the last round completed soon.
Debate Round No. 2


Firstly, I'd like to make a few apologies to my opponent. One, for not showing up for forfeiting the second round; my internet was not working at the time I had to respond. Two, I'd like to apologize for comparing 5% of criminals to 5% of elementary school students. It had nothing to do with comparing the innocence of children to criminals, but rather to get a good mental image of how large 5% really is.

With that out of the way, I shall continue.

Life without parole may be expensive with the additional costs, but the Death Penalty, in fact, costs significantly more than a life sentence. According to the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, the ""additional cost of confining an inmate to death row, as compared to the maximum security prisons where those sentenced to life without possibility of parole ordinarily serve their sentences, is $90,000 per year per inmate. With California"s current death row population of 670, that accounts for $63.3 million annually." The Indiana Criminal Law Study Commission says the death penalty in Indiana costs 38% more than life without parole. And the Palm Beach Post estimates that Florida would save $51 million each year by abolishing the Death Penalty in that state alone and using life on parole to punish 1st-degree murderers instead.

Contrary to my opponent's belief, we actually use 5 methods of execution in the United States: Lethal Injection is used in 35 states, Electrocution is used in 9 states, the Gas Chamber is used in 4 states, Hanging is used in 2 states, and the Firing Squad is used in only 1 state. So I'm not exactly sure why my opponent claims that the Firing Squad is humane if we're only using it in one state. Although Lethal Injection is the primary method of execution and seemingly the most painless, it is not always that way, according to a study in North Carolina, California, Florida and Virginia. The study reports that "Even when administered properly, the three-drug lethal injection method appears to have caused some inmates to suffocate while they were conscious and unable to move, instead of having their hearts stopped while they were sedated... the typical "one-size-fits-all" doses of anesthetic do not take into account an inmate"s weight and other key factors. Some inmates got too little, and in some cases, the anesthetic wore off before the execution was complete...". This does not sound "100% humane," as my opponent claims. This also brings up the question of if the Death Penalty is Constitutional. It seems to violate the Eighth Amendment, which states that cruel and unusual punishments must not be inflicted.

I would also like to oppose my opponent's claim that modern DNA testing can make us "absolutely sure if the accused is innocent, and absolutely sure if he is guilty". DNA testing doesn't always work, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. They quote, "Although invaluable, DNA testing cannot always be put to use. In many cases, because of the nature of the crime, a DNA test cannot identify the murderer. In other cases DNA samples were not collected at the crime scene and preserved in a state suitable for testing today, or DNA testing of sufficient sophistication either was not available or not performed. And most significant, in some cases relevant samples may no longer be at hand because the evidence was destroyed. Eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, playing a role in more than 75% of convictions overturned through DNA testing."

I'm also confused at my opponent's claim that "justice is not important," when in the next paragraph, they say it is a "humane means of justice" (which we have learned, using facts and research, that it is not humane, anyways).

So to sum it all up, the death penalty is more expensive than life on parole, not always so painless, and not always able to be served to the right people in mind. So why do we still have the Death Penalty?


I will be arguing against the abolished of the death penalty in the US.

First of all, there is an obvious flaw in my opponent's point that I thought she would have seen. She claims that

"additional cost of confining an inmate to death row, as compared to the maximum security prisons where those sentenced to life without possibility of parole ordinarily serve their sentences, is $90,000 per year per inmate. With California"s current death row population of 670, that accounts for $63.3 million annually."

which is true. However, let's do some simple math. In the first round I stated that each life sentence, on average costs $1.5 million. She tells us that California's death row costs $63.3 million annually, which is way too much. That life sentence is better. So using the same 670 inmates, and life sentence costing $1.5 million each, that comes to over $1 billion. We would save over $936 million by using the death penalty.

My opponent goes on to inform me that five methods of execution are used. I was not aware of that. It matters not to this case, however. My opponent for some reason is clinging onto the idea of eliminating the death penalty, when she wants reform. She speaks of how inhumane some of the methods of execution are, so we should use humane methods. She says that she

"[is] not exactly sure why [I] [claim] that the firing squad is humane if we're only using it in one state."

Because, we could use it in fifty states. If everything else is inhumane, let us use that which is humane. Why wouldn't we? That is a reform problem, not a full-scope problem. If we use firing squads everywhere, which is seemingly the only humane method, then we have no problem. The only thing I must cover is my opponent's idea of paroling 1st degree murder victims, which is certainly the worst idea on the board. Allowing convicted murderers in our society again, even if on parole, is unacceptable and frankly just not smart.

With those ideas in mind, I implore you all to vote Pro, as there are no remaining arguments for the Con side at this time.
Debate Round No. 3
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 4saken 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro has slightly better arguments. Conduct point because Con forfeited one round.