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The Contender
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Death Penalty

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/24/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,667 times Debate No: 6624
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (0)




First of all I would like to make my "map points" as to why I am oppose to the death penalty.

1. The cost
One my argue by logic that the cost is much higher for life imprisonment because you would have to feed him everyday etc.... for the rest of their lives right.

# A 2003 legislative audit in Kansas found that the estimated cost of a death penalty case was 70% more than the cost of a comparable non-death penalty case. Death penalty case costs were counted through to execution (median cost $1.26 million). Non-death penalty case costs were counted through to the end of incarceration (median cost $740,000).
(December 2003 Survey by the Kansas Legislative Post Audit)
# In Tennessee, death penalty trials cost an average of 48% more than the average cost of trials in which prosecutors seek life imprisonment.
(2004 Report from Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Office of Research)
# In Maryland death penalty cases cost 3 times more than non-death penalty cases, or $3 million for a single case.
(Urban Institute, The Cost of the Death Penalty in Maryland, March 2008)
# In California the current system costs $137 million per year; it would cost $11.5 million for a system without the death penalty.

I will start off with a quote from Governor George Ryan of Illinois

"I cannot support a system which, in its administration, has proven so fraught with error and has come so close to the ultimate nightmare, the state's taking of innocent life... Until I can be sure that everyone sentenced to death in Illinois is truly guilty, until I can be sure with moral certainty that no innocent man or woman is facing a lethal injection, no one will meet that fate."

Since 1973, 130 people have been released from death rows throughout the country due to evidence of their wrongful convictions. In 2003 alone, 10 wrongfully convicted defendants were released from death row.

3. Death Penalty does not help anything
There are no proven records that say that states that have the death penalty have lower crimes rates of any sort. People do not think right before they shot a guy in the face. "Oh wait, this state has the death penalty".
Actually, states that do not have the death penalty have lower crime rates

4. Would you agree that spending 23 hours in the day for the rest of your life in a 6 ft" by 6 ft" box thinking about what you have done, letting the misery eat you away for the rest of your life is worse then dyeing

5. And shouldn't the state be considered a murderer for killing someone as well


Since my opponent gave his speech first, my burden is to merely disprove my opponent's arguments.

My opponents case:
1. I will go over my opponent's cost argument after I go over my opponent's other arguments.

2. Innocence
My opponent goes over the argument that the death penalty could possibly lead to the death of innocent people. He uses the quote from Governor George Ryan. My opponent goes on and states that innocent people have been released from death row.
However, here is a statistic. According to author Thomas Eddlem, "...the most important error rate—the rate of mistaken executions—is zero." This shows that no one who has been executed on death row has been proven innocent after their death. Therefore, the death penalty is in fact argument. Even if you do not buy this argument, here is another one. Those who have been let off death row have been proven innocent from the arrival of DNA testing. These innocents were convicted during times when there was no DNA testing, and its arrival in the 90's vindicated them. However, if we look forward to the future we can see that DNA testing is already in place, and this will make sure that we can convict the right person. Our reliance on circumstantial evidence will decrease, and we can be certain that we are executing the guilty. Finally, those who are in fact convicted are given due process of the law and are convicted by a jury of their peers.

3. Death Penalty does not help anything
My opponent says that the death penalty states do not have lower crime rates, and that states that do not have the death penalty have low crime rates.
However, this is a flawed argument. First, because my opponent is looking at the whole crime rate. However, since the death penalty punishes only crimes involving murder, then we cant expect the death penalty to deter crimes that do not involve murder. Second, because my opponent is comparing non death penalty states and death penalty states. However, these states are not all alike. For example, most of the death penalty states have large urban populations, while most of the non death penalty states do not. Therefore, we must look at a different way to see if the death penalty does in fact deter crime. This method that I will show compares homicide rates nation wide between years that had the death penalty and years that did not. This study can be found here
In this study author Jay Johansen looked at the homicide rates since 1950. In this study he found that the homicide rate was lower in years when the death penalty was used, than in years when the death penalty was in fact not in use. Therefore, we can clearly see that the death penalty is a deterrent of homicides, which is the type of crime it punishes.

4.)To my opponent's fourth point I say no. This is because this threat of death is classified as coercion. Hence, people are more likely to do what you want, in this case not commit murder, because they are afraid of the possible punishment of death they will face. Sure, spending life in prison would be bad, but you are still alive. You are still able interact with human beings, and are able to even perform some activities while in prison. However, it has been statistically proven that the death penalty has deterred people from committing violent crimes.

5.) To my opponent's fifth point I agree. Just like I agree that the person who killed another man in self defense is a murderer . However, we as a society do not punish this man for protecting himself. Just like the government should not be punished for protecting its people by using the death penalty. As well, if you look at the Social Contract theory, that the government has the complete right to murder this man by not following the law. You can label the state a murderer, but that does not mean they are wrong.

1.) Finally, I will go back to my opponent's first point. My opponent states that death penalty cases cost more. I will show you in two ways how this argument is flawed. First, since it has been shown that the death penalty does in fact deter crime I will play off this argument. My opponent since he is advocating no death penalty at all we will see a rise in the homicide rate. This is true because it has been shown statistically that the homicide rate was higher in years without executions. This rise in the homicide rate will require the state to spend even more money on prosecution of these homicides, and the investigations of these homicides. This will cause the money the state though they would save each case without the death penalty, to in fact be used. In fact, this would cause more and more money to be spent, and the state would not save any money at all. Even if you do not buy this argument you should look at my next argument. My second argument is that this immaterial. As author Thomas Eddlem said, "Justice isn't up for sale to the lowest bidder." Therefore, the government must do what it is obligated to its citizens first, and worry about cost second.

Since my opponent has no arguments left, I have successfully upheld my burden and you must now vote pro.

I would also like to thank my opponent for a great debate, and I await his response.
Debate Round No. 1


My opponent says that people who are innocent on death row have all been released prior to the executions and that nobody innocent has been actually killed. As of March 2005, 119 innocent people have been released from death rows across the country since 1973 (Northwestern University, DP Information Center). Researchers Radelet and Bedau found 23 cases where innocent people were executed since 1900 (In Spite of Innocence, Northeastern University Press, 1992). Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation, Inc. In this way, no matter if it was one person innocent our 200 innocents killed, I can not support a system in which innocent people are killed. You might say that it is the people on the jury who decide this, yes but if there was no capital punishment system then they would not have the choice of it, right?

My opponent differs between the states that do have the death penalty are different in ways such as urban population. Michigan, a state that does not have the death penalty and major cities such as Detroit and Lansing that has a population of 10,003,422 as oppose to New Mexico which has the death penalty, no major cities, and a population of 1,984,356, nearly 10 times less then of Michigan. New Mexico has a higher homicide rate. The facts still remain, states with the death penalty of all different populations and sizes have lower homicide rates then those of states that do. Are you telling me that if any state with the death penalty outlaws it, then homicide rates will not decrease?

You say that spending life in prison for 23 hours a day is not worse then dyeing then and there. Each choice you pick eventually has the same outcome, death. If you will eventually die then would you not want to die then and there or live for how many years you have left spending all your time in a box with no luxuries and just time on your hand to slowly eat you away and kill you inside? If someone gave you an option to have your head chopped off or to have lethal cuts to your body for an amount of time, but they would still chop your head off later, which would you pick?

"Using conservative rough projections, the Commission estimates the annual costs of the present system ($137 million per year), the present system after implementation of the reforms ... ($232.7 million per year) ... and a system which imposes a maximum penalty of lifetime incarceration instead of the death penalty ($11.5 million)."
--California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, July 1, 2008
Yes I agree with my opponent that if a state with the death penalty had it suddenly banned that there would be an increase in the amount of spending for investigators etc...But it still would not be even close to how much it costs to have the death penalty with all the appeals etc....death penalty takes a long time and people are on death row for 10-20 years at times. There is no statistics that show that the increase in prosecution of homicides or homicide investigators would cost more then if they had the death penalty.

For the ways I have disproved my opponent and my map points I urge you to vote Con on this debate

I would like to thank my opponent for a great rebuttal and debate and wish him the best of luck in the following rounds.


I will first start out with the point my opponent has dropped then move on to the other points.

5.) My opponent has dropped his fifth point. Therefore, you can flow through the argument that the government is using the death penalty as a means to protect society, and are merely following through on the Social Contract theory. By dropping this my argument extends through the debate, and my opponent cannot bring his fifth point up again.

2.) My opponent continues on this point by saying that that 119 innocents have been released, and that 23 innocent people have been executed. However, my opponent is just lying by saying that 23 innocent people have been executed. Along with my Eddlem quote from earlier which says there have been no innocents executed, the Death Penalty Information Center (a source which my opponent frequently uses) agrees with me.
My opponents source that he uses has examples where legal innocence has not been proven to be true. Therefore, these are merely conjectures of innocence made by the author of "In Spite of Innocence". The fact that no innocent has been executed disproves his quote that we cannot support a system where innocents have been killed, because this is not the case. But this is all immaterial anyways, because my opponent failed to address the point that we must look to the future. That most of these exonerations are from cases before DNA testing has been established, and that since DNA testing is in place now we can be assured of guilt as time goes on. My opponent dropped this point, which I made in my previous speech, so you can extend this argument through this round.

3)My opponent argues against my urban population example by bringing up the comparisons of New Mexico and Michigan. However, only two of the states that do not have the death penalty have large urban populations, these being New York and New Mexico. However, states with the death penalty that have large urban populations include California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Arizona, ect. This shows that this comparison is grossly inconsistent and cannot be used. Again, my opponent originally stated his comparison was of crime rate, but now he says it was of homicide rates. This shows my opponent flip-flopping on what his example covers, therefore we should discount this example as well. Therefore, we should use a more exact and accurate comparison using homicide rates because that is what the death penalty is used on. However, my opponent completely dropped my previous study I cited. This study covered the number of executions and the homicide rate nationwide. Since my opponent did not address this and dropped the example, we must assume he agrees with it. Therefore, you must flow this study through, and this shows that the death penalty does in fact decrease the homicide rate and deter crime. This means that my opponents point three has now fallen.

4.)My opponent says that both choice leads to death. To this I agree, but I do not agree with the rest of my opponents point. He says that the pain of just spending time in jail with no luxuries is a better punishment. However, I completely disagree. As I have stated earlier, in prison the prisoner is still allowed human interaction and other activities. As well, some felons in prison join prison gangs. These prison gangs intimidate and case harm to either other prisoners, and sometimes on the street. The leaders and the main members of the gangs are those who are murderers and are in prison for life. Therefore, since these people still cause damage in prison, we must use the death penalty on them to punish them for the crime they committed, and to prevent future damage through prison gangs.

1.) Finally, moving back to my opponents first point. He agrees with me that there would be more investigations. This would be caused by the increase in murders by not having the death penalty. However, he says the cost of those would not eclipse the cost of one death penalty case. This is wrong. One of my opponents earlier statistics was that "In Tennessee, death penalty trials cost an average of 48% more than the average cost of trials in which prosecutors seek life imprisonment." However, in the graph shows that the homicide rate decreased by at least 15 homicides per million people from what I can tell. However, this would result in 15 more homicide investigations and let's say 10 trials with 5 unsolved murders. Since death penalty trials cost 48% more, we can see that these 10 additional trials caused by not having the death penalty cost more than that one death penalty trials. This also goes with my opponents statistic of
"In Maryland death penalty cases cost 3 times more than non-death penalty cases, or $3 million for a single case." As well with my opponents statistic "A 2003 legislative audit in Kansas found that the estimated cost of a death penalty case was 70% more than the cost of a comparable non-death penalty case. Death penalty case costs were counted through to execution (median cost $1.26 million). Non-death penalty case costs were counted through to the end of incarceration (median cost $740,000)." Therefore, I have clearly shown that the death penalty does cost less than not having the death penalty. Even if you do not buy this argument you can extend my previous argument, which was the Thomas Eddlem quote, "Justice isn't up for sale to the lowest bidder." This shows that even if you agree with my opponent that the death penalty does cost more, that it is not significant because we should look at providing justice, which I have shown can only be provided through the death penalty.

Now since I have successfully defeated my opponents points, you must see that I have upheld my burden for this round. Therefore, you must vote Pro.

I would also like to thank my opponent for a great debate and I await his response.
Debate Round No. 2


I have not mentioned my fifth point in my second debate because my opponent has agreed with it, so need I go on and debate something we both agree on?

The National Coalition To Abolish The Death Penalty or NCADP does agree with me in saying that 23 innocent people have been killed. Yes there was not DNA testing until recent times, and my opponent claims that now we can be assured of guilt. This is a complete fallacy. We can never be assured of guilt. All that DNA testing does is decreases the odds of innocence, its never completely abolishes them. We never can be 100% assured that everybody who is on death row is guilty(as shown in all the releases states have made due to innocence). The next person to be executed may be innocent, the is no 100% chance that we will ever know, and by the system not being completely 100%, anything under 100% I cannot support. There is no evidence or logical argument to say that out of the thousands of people who have died on death row, that the United States judicial system is so perfect that all of these people have been completely guilty. You are right that a council of a jury decides innocence or guilt, in which a scenario of guilt can be the death penalty. These people on jury are people of all different background, morals, and levels of intelligence whom all determine if the person is guilty or not. It can be a council of 12 people where all but one think that he is guilty. It may take that one person to look into the case more in depth and convince those other 11 people that the person is innocent, which he really is. And what if that one person was not there, if it was another one of those 11 people who think that the person on death row in guilty. If it would have been a council of those 12 people who think that he is guilty, they have just killed an innocent. And who is to say such a scenario has not happened of the enormous amount of people who have served on jury duty of people on death row. Who is to say that they all have been so accurate in making the correct decision.

My opponent fails to realize that still states of all different sizes and populations that do not have the death penalty have one single common trend, that they still have lower crime and homicide rates then states that do. My opponent says that because those states that have a bigger urban population which that that is why the crime is higher then the states that do not have the death penalty with lower populations. And if for example if California(state with a HUGE crime/homicide rate) suddenly abolishes the death penalty,would you not agree that they would have more money to spend of law enforcement and different sorts of crime prevention that would then lower the crime/homicide rates and still be a lower amount of money then when they had the death penalty.

My opponent connects his points about the prison gangs and that keeping them alive, and says it is encouraging those gang lords to further conduct what they are doing?! Are you aware that people of life imprisonment only go out on the "yard' by themselves with no human interaction other then of the guards that take them out and watch over them. These people are kept completely away from other inmates and so they have no interaction with them. My opponent uses Wikipedia which is a site to have been proven wrong so his argument has no solid evidence or foundation so it collapses. One could see this sort of life imprisonment as torture, and would you rather be tortured then killed or be killed right away, what is the plus side of the first choice?

The average cost of a trial in a federal death case is $620,932, about 8 times that of a federal murder case in which the death penalty is not sought. If you look here, all states that have capital punishment have such enormous costs then if they did not. Having the system itself is so much more expensive then all the people in a state on death row(there could be 200) and they could all be on death row for 20 years. The states then has to pay an enormous burden in which I have said earlier could use that money for law enforcement and crime prevention.

My opponent uses justice in his case. Justice is the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, fairness and equity. And by my ethics and morals, I don't support the death penalty, and by yours, you do. Everybody has different eyes in seeing justice, so justice cannot be used as a debate topic, so this point falls.

I have successfully disproved my opponent and for these reasons urge you to vote Con.

I wish the best of luck to my opponent and I stand ready to hear his case.


I will address the points in the order my opponent has addressed them.

5.) My opponent says he failed to argue his fifth point because I agreed. However, I only agreed to an extent of his argument. My opponent threw around the word "murderer" with a negative connotation, but in this case it is not in a negative connotation. Therefore, you can continue to extend my attack on his fifth point through for this round.

2.) My opponent continues to state that 23 innocent people have been executed by the death penalty. However, this is completely wrong. I took a further look into the source he has cited and came to this. This only has 23 cases of possible innocence but nothing that has been legally proven. The only way we judge guilt and non guilt in this country is legally, and this has not been proven legally. Therefore, we have to assume everyone who was executed was guilty because nothing legally has been proven. Even the source my opponent cited earlier had only conjectures of innocence by the author, but again nothing proven legally. Next, my opponent moves to the point that we can never be 100% assured of guilt, and that DNA testing just decreases the odds. However, that is what I argued. I stated, my opponent agrees with this, most of the people let off death row were because of introduction of DNA evidence. Now since DNA testing is in use we will not have incidents like this, and can more sure of the guilt. This way we do not have to rely on circumstantial evidence as much. Even if you do not buy this, a person spends anywhere from 8-20 years on death row (Death Penalty Information Center), my opponent has even said this. This is enough time for an inmate to file an appeal, and for the appeal process to go through. Therefore, by this time all legal options have been exhausted. This shows that our legal system is very close to perfect and as time goes on can be more and more assured of guilt. My opponent next tries to use an example of a jury where one person is convinced of innocence and persuades the others. He goes and says that you could get 12 like minded people who could get this man killed. However, in his own example he says that the people from the jury are from different backgrounds, morals and levels of intelligence. Therefore, the odds of getting twelve like minded individuals in a case of innocence is very unlikely according to my opponent's own example. This shows that they will only think alike if there are the facts that prove the guilt.

3.) My opponent says that still those states without the death penalty have lower homicide and crime rates. There are two things wrong with this statement. First, in his initial speech my opponent said that it was lower crime rate, and in his next speech he said it was homicide rate. Now he is saying it is homicide and crime rate. My opponent is continuing to flip flop on what his evidence covers, therefore we must discount it completely. Even if you do not buy that, you must realize that these states have different populations sizes, and other factors. My opponent has even admitted this in his last speech. Therefore, we should look at a more accurate way of comparing this using homicide rates, which I will get to later. Next, my opponent says that these states would have money, if they abolished the death penalty, to spend on law enforcement, which would prevent crime. This is a nice conjecture my opponent is making, but he fails to back it up with any sort of empirical evidence. However, I have evidence on the contrary showing that the removal of the death penalty increases the homicide rate. I have had this evidence in my case since my first speech but my opponent has failed to attack it at all. Therefore, you can extend my Jay Johansen evidence, which is in my first speech. This evidence uses an appropriate method, by comparing the homicide rates in years that had the death penalty vs. years that did not. He found out that the homicide rate was lower in years that had the death penalty. Therefore, my opponent's third point has been proven completely wrong.

4.) My opponent argues my prison gang example two different ways. He says first that these prisoners have no activities or other human interaction. Next, he says that I cite Wikipedia, which shows I have no evidence. I would like to respond to this in two different ways. First, what proof does my opponent have that these prisoners in for life have no interaction with anyone else. He has no sources to back this up, therefore I will approach this logically. There is no way that these prisoners cannot have any contact with other prisoners. It would cost the state a lot of money to give each prisoner their own cell, which the state would not want to spend. Anyways, prisons already have a FEW solitary confinement cells, where the prisoners do spend time alone. However, this is not the normal state they are in. It would be stupid and illogical for the state to prevent prisoner contact, because it would cost them too much money. However, even if you do not believe my logic, look at this article which shows the daily prison life Next, going on to the wikipedia argument my opponent now says I have no proof that prison gangs exist since I use wikipedia. Even if you do not buy Wikipedia as a source, there are thousands of other sources out there that agree that prison gangs exist. This is one such source that does show how prison violence is getting high via prison gangs, and that these members/leaders are those who have murdered before. Therefore, we can curb prison violence via gangs with the death penalty. My opponent says that life imprisonment is like torture, but this again is a complete lie. In prison, as I have shown they are still allowed human interaction and activities, so it can't possibly be torture.

1.) My opponent continues to cite examples of death penalty cases costing more than non death penalty cases. He says this time it costs 8 times more on national average. He continues by saying that the system costs so much more, and that money could be used for crime prevention. Addressing his crime prevention point, I have shown that the best homicide preventer is in fact the death penalty. Next, my opponent dropped the analysis I made last round of the graph. The graph can be found here This graph shows that the death penalty prevented at least 15 homicides per million. I then said this was 10 trials maybe 5 unsolved homicides. However, the point from this is that the state would have to spend money on at least 10 more trials and 15 more cases. Therefore, this shows that since a death penalty trial costs 8 times more, it actually does not. This cost of the death penalty trial is usurped by the cost of 10 more homicide trials caused by not having this death penalty. My opponent dropped this argument in his previous round, so you can flow it on through. This shows that the system and the trials in the long run do not cost more. Also, that have the death penalty is cost-effective. Finally, my opponent says I use Justice in my case, and says there are different views on justice. However, my opponent failed to realize the context of the quote. The quote was "Justice isn't up for sale to the lowest bidder." This means that even if you do buy that death penalty does cost more, that doing what is right should come before worrying about cost. As well, the courts in the United States are part of the Justice system, so as a nation we do have a conception of justice. Therefore, you can see that my opponent misinterpreted the jist of the quote.

Since you can see that I have successfully defeated my opponents case, and upheld my burden, you must vote Pro.

I would also like to thank my opponent for a great debate, and await his response.
Debate Round No. 3


ajbala94 forfeited this round.


I am quite disappointed that my opponent was unable to show up in time to post his last round, and was unable to complete this debate.

Therefore, extend all my arguments against his points. This means that I have successfully defeated all my opponents points, and therefore I have upheld my burden for this debate. As a result, you must vote Pro.

I would still like to thank my opponent for a great debate.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by HeedMyFeed 9 years ago
Really short voting period.
No votes have been placed for this debate.