The Instigator
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The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

Death Penalty

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/12/2016 Category: Society
Updated: 5 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 464 times Debate No: 91195
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (1)




I'll be arguing against the death penalty while my opponent must argue for the death penalty.

This is the current list of crimes that the death penalty applies to. [1] We will apply these crimes to the debate and won't talk about crimes punishable by death in the past nor future crimes that can be updated to this current list.

Round 1 - Opening Statements from Pro
Round 2 - Rebuttals from Con, Defense from Pro
Round 3 - Opening Statements from Con, Rebuttals from Pro
Round 4 - Defense from Con, Pro Must Waive

1) No hate speech/ slander
2) No kritkiks
3) No plagiarism
4) No new arguments in final round
5) Please use citations
6) No forfeiture
7) No trolls
8) BoP is shared

Voting Rules:
1) Vote Convincing Arguments
2) Only vote conduct if plagiarism, forfeiture, and/or slander is present
3) Only vote spelling and grammar if it's so poor it detracts from the arguments at hand

Thank you



I accept the terms of the rules and will post my case. But before I do, keep in mind these are not my opinions, simply things I have researched in an attempt to put on a fair and unbiased debate.

Before we begin, let us realize that this debate should be weighed by lives and economics. Furthermore, if I convince you that the death penalty saves lives and is economically sound, I win the debate. With this in mind, I will begin.

I affirm the Death Penalty for the following contentions.

Contention 1: Deterrent effect

While often contested, there is an obvious example of the effectiveness of the death penalty in modern times if we were to turn to an Emory University study in 2001 has found a clear deterrent effect in their study. They claim that the most robust finding in the study is the fact that they have found that the arresting, execution, and sentencing records ouch the theory of a strong deterrent effect on murders. The study goes on to say that the more we spend on the Judiciary system and police force, the more effective the police system is, which means we weed out more murderers.

These findings are supported by Dr. Paul Zimmerman who states the following:

"Specifically, it is estimated that each state execution deters somewhere between 4 and 25 murders per year…”

The deterrent effect is said to work through econometrics, or the application of statistical and economic theories to determine truth value or come to a conclusion.

In other words, we need to see that criminals, much like what is described in my first citation, think like they are purchasing an item by weighing the consequences and using the same decisions we use to make a smart, fiscal decision. This means that criminals are likely going to weigh death with killing an innocent person, resulting in them feeling deterred to go through with such action. Being tough on crime sends a message to criminals that is important. This statement shows that crime does not pay, and those that commit crime will suffer the consequences of said crime, whether execution or time in prison. This will in turn convince criminals that the actions that they would have taken would result in even more pain and problems in prison. We can actually see the effect of having smaller amounts of executions if we turn toward the recent statistics provided by the FBI in 2014, where although murder is shown to decrease, rape and aggravated assault charges increased after the death penalty was used less often.

What needs to be done is clear, let us become tough on crime to protect the American public. Vote pro.

Contention 2: Lack of alternatives

The death penalty seems to be the only option for the most heinous killers and criminals. If we look at Psychology Today, we see that conditions such as psychopathy are prevalent in criminal activity and have no known cure at the moment.

Also, according to the ACLU, between 5 and 10% of all death row inmates suffer from a severe mental health disease.

This is not necessarily treatable and also not necessarily effective. Remember, many dangerous criminals showed very little empathy or remorse for crimes, leading many to see them as psychopaths.

Other alternatives that seem sensible are actually not.

My opponent may bring up maximum security prison as an alternative as well. However, this fails on the face value of expenses. The average cost of a security prison is absurdly high. The average cost of a prisoner in a maximum security prison is $200,000 a year. This is a huge problem as we spend over 190 million dollars every year for prisoners which is not going to the American people and not benefitting the American economy.

Federal reform can’t fix this problem as the livelihood of the prisoners are still highly valued at a high security prison. Not only this, bet despite high security prisons being secure, there are always ways for prisoners to escape and continue to harm society. There are multiple examples, but a recent Chicago Tribune article describes the escape of three prisoners from a high security prison which resulted in manhunts due to the situation. With this in mind, we must neutralize threats and not assume that the criminal will not escape.

What is clear is the fact that the alternatives that could be proposed to Capital Punishment are not going to be effective at not only curtailing violence and crime, but also, there is no guarantee that that the alternatives will warrant more effective solutions. Because of this, affirm.

Contention 3: Cost

My opponent will claim that the cost of the death penalty is too high to be worth the effects. However, we need to realize that there is another actor many people do not take into account when stating this. In fact, according to Criminal Justice Legal Foundation study in 2009, we can see the following:

“The average county with the death penalty disposes of 18.9% of murder cases with a plea and a long sentence, compared to 5.0% in counties without the death penalty.”

This is important due to the fact that the majority of the death penalty costs come from the legal and judicial system being nuanced with many rules and regulations. Not only this, but court costs are huge due to the fact that it is a life or death situation which is in the hands of each lawyer involved. However, these plea bargains are going to be saving money in the status quo despite what my opponent may claim.

In fact, when we look toward the Death Penalty Information Center, we can see an overview of a Seattle University Study showing the costs of the death penalty showing the following:

“Defense costs were about three times as high in death penalty cases and prosecution costs were as much as four times higher than for non-death penalty cases.”

Plea bargains will substantially reduce this price with less work for the judicial system to do. According to a 1989 study by the Yale Law Journal study, we can see definitely see huge cost reductions with plea bargain being used, which means that ultimately shows the reduced costs of the death penalty, regardless of what my opponent will say.

Contention 4: Reforms necessary

I will concede that the capital punishment program is ineffective in many ways that seem to be tangible. However, not only are these problems overstated, but there are many ways to fix these problems as opposed to simply abolishing the death penalty completely. For instance, we can clearly see that more funding to the judicial system and policing system will make the process more proficient. Not only this, but the accidental execution of innocent people is a problem as well and needs to be fixed through a more informed and trained jury. We can also spend more on lawyers for those with the inability to pay for representation that is effective. The point is, any problem my opponent provides can be easily shown to be fixed through implementation of reform that would ultimately be solvent. My opponent’s resolution does not mention the current system or future system and simply asks if the United States should have a death penalty, meaning this argument is valid. Not only this, but we need to weigh lives over anything else in this debate, and since I have proven the deterrent effect occurs in the status quo, we need to see the impacts of this which includes higher public safety and less criminals on the street resulting in less lives lost as shown from my statistic from Dr. Zimmerman in my first contention. We see lives being saved which weighs more than anything else in this debate, ergo one should vote pro.

Debate Round No. 1


First, I'd like to say thank you to my opponent, blamonkey, for accepting the debate. I agree with the terms he set up. Here's my rebuttal of his arguments.

Rebuttal to Contention 1: Deterrent Effect

Actually, in another study Michael L. Radelet and Traci L. LaCock in 2007, a large consensus among criminologists was that it added no deterrent effects that a life sentence couldn't already achieve. [1]

"Richard Berk noted that the execution figures by state by year for the 1977 to 1997 period were highly skewed. Berk specifically noted that most statesâ€"accounting for 859 of the 1,000 observationsâ€"had zero executions in a given year, and only a few states had more than a handful in a few years, with most of these being from Texas. He used a straightforward procedure to assess the implications of this skewed measure: using Mocan and Gittings’s original data set, he removed the Texas data and ran the model exactly as the original authors did, albeit only for the other forty-nine states. The deterrent effect of executions disappeared. Berk concluded that 'it would be bad statistics and bad social policy to generalize from the 11 observations to the remaining 989.'" [2] The study shows the flaws in previous studies conducted about deterrence in a death sentence.

But let's just assume that the death penalty is an effective deterrent. My opponent goes on to say that being tough on crime sends a message that crime doesn't pay and criminals will feel the consequences of the crime. He also says that capital punishment will shows them that they'll receive even more problems in prison. But the death penalty reinforces that killing is fine, as long as it's the government doing it.

"The death penalty is used to deter killers, but it models the very behavior it seeks to prevent. It teaches the lesson that it is acceptable to kill, as long as the state is the one doing the killing. Hence the term 'capital punishment.' This is somewhat paradoxical. As my friend Jed said, 'We don't like people who kill other people, so to show everyone how much we don't like people who kill people, we are going to kill people who kill other people. It seems like capital punishment pretty much goes against everything it claims to be for.' The death penalty answers violence with counter-violence. As American novelist Wendell Berry said, 'Violence breeds violence. Acts of violence committed in "justice" or in affirmation of "rights" or in defense of "peace" do not end violence. They prepare and justify its continuation.'" [3]

So why should the death penalty be used as a deterrent if the government is using it in a hypocritical way?

My opponent then says that, since we haven't had many executions, the rates of murder have gone down, but the rates of aggravated assault and rape has gone up. But, according to the list of crimes that the death penalty applies to, rape and aggravated assault aren't on there. [4] The rise of rape and aggravated assault is irrelevant to the argument. Let's get back to when my opponent said that the rates of murder actually went down since we've had less executions over the years. This is a defensive argument and proves the point that the death penalty isn't an effective deterrent.

Rebuttal to Contention 2: Lack of Alternatives

My opponent says that Psychology Today states that conditions such as psychopathy are prevalent in criminal activity and that there's no cure. He never linked to the article, he just linked to the same FBI crime rate statistics from his last argument. This is probably a mistake, but without the proof, this can be thrown out as a bare assertion.

Then, he says that 5% to 10% of death row inmates suffer from severe mental illness. So are you saying that we should punish them for being mentally ill or for the crime they committed?

My opponent goes on to say that it isn't necessarily treatable and that many dangerous criminals show very little empathy or remorse. But we shouldn't kill them because they might be psychopaths. This is punishing someone they have no control over. Proof?

"In 2012, Dr. Kent Kiehl, a psychologist at the University of Mexico and one of the foremost experts on psychopathy, discovered that psychopaths have reduced gray matter in the paralimbic system of the brain. His longtime suspicions were confirmed: Psychopaths -- who are unremorseful and antisocial -- have fundamentally different brains than the rest of us. The finding was replicated in psychopathic youth the following year. While the link between brain structure and psychopathy is correlational, the youth data strongly suggested that the stunted paralimbic system is present from birth." [5]

Yes, they should be held responsible for their actions, just like anybody else with a mental illness, but my opponent's third paragraph of Contention 2 implied that we should kill them because they're psychopaths and not for the crimes they commit, which somewhat goes against his argument.

After this, my opponent brings up the cost of maximum security and the cost of all prisoners, which are both very hefty prices. But I found a comparison of maximum security and death row inmates, if you take cost into account.

"In Texas, one death penalty case costs the state about 2.3 million dollars. This is three times higher than what it would cost to imprison one inmate in the highest security prison cell available for 40 years." [6] Does this not prove that maximum security costs less than death row?

Let's get back to the second half of my opponent's argument where he says that the cost of all prisoners in the United States is $190 million. Wouldn't death row inmates be combined in that cost? Look back at the quote comparing death row costs to maximum security, at least in Texas. The cost would be reduced if we didn't have the death penalty in the first place. After all, like my opponent said, this money could be used to help the American economy.

Then, he says that federal reform can't fix this problem because there are ways for prisoners to escape. But people waiting for death row can still escape from prison. The average time inmates wait for execution is just under 16 years. [7] This is still plenty of time to escape.

Rebuttal to Contention 3: Cost

Most of my opponent's arguments revolve around plea bargains, so I'll also focus on that my my rebuttal.

Plea Bargain- an arrangement between a prosecutor and a defendant whereby the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge in the expectation of leniency. [8]

Yes, I agree that the plea bargain will greatly reduce the costs of the case and prosecution, but not every criminal will take a plea bargain. Regardless, the costs of the death penalty are still very high, which my opponent points out. Again, this makes for a defensive argument and proves a point I'll provide in my opening statements.

Rebuttal to Contention 4: Reforms Necessary

In this argument, my opponent goes on to say that we could give more funding to the judicial system, the police force, and defense. Mind you, in my opponent's last argument, he quotes the following:

“Defense costs were about three times as high in death penalty cases and prosecution costs were as much as four times higher than for non-death penalty cases.” [9]

Too much money goes into the death penalty already, as I'll prove in my opening statements. My opponent said earlier that $190 million goes into prisoners already. Why add to the high cost by funding them more when we can get rid of the death penalty and save money.

Thank you and good bye. I look forward to my opponent's defense.




I meant to say "defense" not "rebuttal" but you get the idea.
Rebuttal 1:
No deterrence

I’ll split this argument into three parts since that seems to be what my opponent has done.

  1. a. Deterrence

My opponent has claimed to show evidence to the opposite of what I have, however, let us look towards the claim that has been shown.

"Richard Berk noted that the execution figures by state by year for the 1977 to 1997 period were highly skewed. Berk specifically noted that most statesâ€"accounting for 859 of the 1,000 observationsâ€"had zero executions in a given year, and only a few states had more than a handful in a few years, with most of these being from Texas. He used a straightforward procedure to assess the implications of this skewed measure: using Mocan and Gittings’s original data set, he removed the Texas data and ran the model exactly as the original authors did, albeit only for the other forty-nine states. The deterrent effect of executions disappeared. Berk concluded that 'it would be bad statistics and bad social policy to generalize from the 11 observations to the remaining 989.'"

This is what my opponent has shown. However, notice the bolded text which claims a specific time period in which the numbers were skewed, and then realize when my study was published. This was 2001 from Emory University. Thus, my study was not skewed in any conceivable way. My opponent has still not shown why my study was worse. Also, this is confirmed by Dr. Zimmerman who reports his findings in 2004. If you would like, I can easily show you another study which concludes much of the same in 2006 as well:

“(2006) Gary S. Becker, Nobel Laureate, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a University Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago, in response to the Donahue/Wolfers Study, states that "capital punishment has an important deterrent effect even with the way the present system actually operates," and that "[i]t is very disturbing to take someone's life, even a murderer's life, but sometimes highly unpleasant actions are necessary to deter even worse behavior that takes the lives of innocent victims."15”

Not only this but let us look at the argument about the mass of criminologists disagreeing. This is unrelated to the argument as regardless of how many people disagree or agree, they are still opinions. Not only this, but this is a logical fallacy known as argumentum ad numeram Regardless of the popular opinion being from experts, we must also note the fact that experts can be uninformed, and wrong.

  1. b. Hypocritical

The death penalty is not murder. It is an insurance policy to assure us that the murderer or offender is not going to be committing crimes any longer. Not only this but regardless of the moral argument my opponent has stated, we need to realize that the deterrent effect is worth whatever moral qualms we face. I will agree that this is a gray area for morality, but my opponent has already agreed to my framework being the following.

Before we begin, let us realize that this debate should be weighed by lives and economics. Furthermore, if I convince you that the death penalty saves lives and is economically sound, I win the debate. With this in mind, I will begin.

This was one of the first things I have stated, which could be considered the terms if you will. My opponent’s response is as follows:

“I agree with the terms he set up. Here's my rebuttal of his arguments.”

My opponent has agreed to look at economics and a number of lives saved, which my opponent has not addressed in this argument. Thus, it is dropped.

  1. c. Defense argument

My opponent has stated that since rape and aggravated assault are not crimes that people get the death penalty for. Fine, however, let us look at different proof that the death penalty deters crime. Let us look at the fact that in 1976 the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court.

If we were to look at national trends in murder from 1976 to present day, we would see that the murder rate climbed slightly after enactment of the death penalty, and then went down. This shows that the murder rate going down after the death penalty was enacted as just by the Supreme Court. My opponent is free to use the “defensive argument” I used, but keep in mind the fact that regardless of the amount of death penalties given out, it still acts as a deterrent which can be shown through the decreasing murder rate nationally.

Rebuttal 2: Alternatives

I will post the article now since I goofed up. It is from a different source but says the same thing.

Notice it is mentioned that the number is conservatively measured. Also, I never meant to imply that those who are psychopaths should be executed, simply that mental health treatment will not work. Not only this, but it is still a possibility that they could escape from prison, and that letting them go into parole will also not stop them from committing crimes.

Next, my opponent cites the following:

"In Texas, one death penalty case costs the state about 2.3 million dollars. This is three times higher than what it would cost to imprison one inmate in the highest security prison cell available for 40 years."

Ok, a few things wrong with this statistic.

  1. 1. You assume that the person on death row will last longer than 40 years in prison.
  2. 2. We need to weigh the safety of people over cost.
  3. 3. This statistic is specific to Texas, not the entire US.

Enough said about this.

The cost is mentioned next. However, there is one response necessary for this. Regardless of the cost of the prisoners stay, there is an entire contention on plea bargains which I have which shows the fact that there are ways to reduce this cost. Not only this, we can still reduce this cost as it is not set in stone on the amount of money we spend on prisoners, and we can simply reduce this.

Contention 3: Plea bargains

My opponent has conceded that plea bargains reduce the cost. However, my opponent has also brought up the cost. However, we need to weigh lives over the cost of imprisonment as it is an important deterrent to criminal activity which I have proven.

Contention 4: Reforms necessary

My opponent brings up costs again, however, I have already proven that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime, which is weighed more over the cost. Also, I have provided you with the following point:

“The point is, any problem my opponent provides can be easily shown to be fixed through the implementation of reform that would ultimately be solvent.”

Cost is not an issue because we can lower the cost of the judicial system by simplifying the process in which the death penalty is considered and used. If necessary, we could find some smart reform in the judicial process as well and increase expenditures in only some areas, if only to preserve costs, to make sure the process if fair. Since we are not debating the current system as there is no resolution stating it as such, we need to see why this point stands.

Debate Round No. 2


I. Our Unalienable Rights

In The Declaration of Independence, we see this:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." [1]

According to The Declaration of Independence, we are born with unalienable rights and we must secure these rights. One of those rights happen to be life. The Government shouldn't be able to take life through capital punishment as unalienable rights may not be taken away. [2]

II. Cost

The costs of a death row inmate are far higher than the costs of any other prisoner. Seattle University found that it costs $1 million more for a death penalty case than a case where a life sentence is the verdict. This is because of the costs for defense, prosecution, multiple trials, etc. [3]

This isn't unique to Washington though. California has spent more than $4 billion in death row since 1978 and they spend an additional $184 million a year. It's estimated that taxpayers in California pay $90,000 more per death row inmate. [4] California can save $1 billion every five years if the death penalty is abolished.

In turn, if these states were to get rid of capital punishment, they'd save a lot of money.

III. Innocents

No matter how good the defense is, we can never know for sure if someone is innocent or guilty. 144 people have been released from death row after being proven innocent. [5] They were the lucky ones. It's estimated that 4.1% of executed inmates were really innocent after further further investigation. [6]

This proves that even though it's a long process to sentence someone to death, it isn't a flawless system. When you make a mistake in a life sentence, you can always acquit the person and they'll be free. If you kill someone then you can't do that; they're dead.

IV. Racial Prejudice

While some may argue that the severity of the crime you commit is a large factor in your sentence, race also takes hand in the verdict.

"While white victims account for approximately one-half of all murder victims, 80% of all Capital cases involve white victims. Furthermore, as of October 2002, 12 people have been executed where the defendant was white and the murder victim black, compared with 178 black defendants executed for murders with white victims."

"In April 2001, researchers from the University of North Carolina released a study of all homicide cases in North Carolina between 1993 and 1997. The study found that the odds of getting a death sentence increased three and a half times if the victim was white rather than black." [7]

This shows the prevalence of racism and how it can affect your sentence. This makes for an unbalanced system that favors one race over the other.

V. It Doesn't Provide Closure

Many of those for the death penalty provide the argument that it gives closure to the victim's family and helps the coping process. In fact, only about 2.7% relevant cases bring closure [8] because the aspect of revenge was later contemplated by the families.

In the case of the Boston Marathon Bombing, the remaining culprit Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death. Only 15% of Boston residents wanted him to be executed. [9] In another story, two parents who lost their 8-year-old son urged against it in an open letter. [10]

"We understand all too well the heinousness and brutality of the crimes committed. We were there. We lived it. The defendant murdered our 8-year-old son, maimed our 7-year-old daughter, and stole part of our soul. We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives. We hope our two remaining children do not have to grow up with the lingering, painful reminder of what the defendant took from them, which years of appeals would undoubtedly bring." [11]

In other words, they knew it would cause trauma to those who lost family in the bombing like themselves. It only extends the grief rather than cure it.

In conclusion, the death penalty should be abolished. Too many factors are involved with the sentencing, those that you wouldn't see in any other case like a life sentence.




Rebuttal 1: Rights

My opponent has claimed that the Declaration of Independence has stated that every man has the right to life. However, this was written at a time when there could not have been forethought onto how criminals would be punished. Not only this, but according to our current legal system it is just in cases, and it is up to the State to determine when it should apply.

Moreover, my opponent has already agreed to my framework as discussed in my last response.

“Before we begin, let us realize that this debate should be weighed by lives and economics. Furthermore, if I convince you that the death penalty saves lives and is economically sound, I win the debate. With this in mind, I will begin.”

This was one of the first things I have stated, which could be considered the terms if you will. My opponent’s response is as follows:

“I agree with the terms he set up. Here's my rebuttal of his arguments.”

These were my terms and my opponent has accepted them. Regardless of the moral repercussions of today’s debate, we need statistical analysis and understanding of the actual costs onto the system. Besides there are many moral systems that value the death penalty, such as deontology.

“Deontological ethics holds that at least some acts are morally obligatory regardless of their consequences for human welfare.

Moral systems are all considered equal, as all depend on what school of thought one subscribes to. After all, who is to say Christianity is a better moral indicator than deontology, or the thinkers behind the Declaration of Independence? That is an entirely different debate for a different time.

Rebuttal 2: Costs

True, the cost of the death penalty is considered huge. However, this does not point toward a con vote, it simply means that it is a necessary cost of the system. Not only this, but with the plea bargain we see huge decreases in the actual cost of the death penalty itself.

Also, keep in mind that under the current system in the US, my opponent would be right. However, we are not debating the current system, we are debating “the death penalty” in general, and since reforms in sentencing can be used to change the amount of money spent on the system, we don’t need to take this into account.

Finally, we can simply end the appeal process for over three times. Remember, it is the amount of complexity in the judicial system which adds to the majority of the costs. By eliminating the appeals system after three times for those on death row we would see decreases in price and more for the government to spend on constituents. Not only this, but eliminating harsh rules on those committed with minor drug offenses would also mean less money wasted, and more that could go to a smoother, more proficient judicial system. In fact, according to Pew Charitable Trusts, the federal prison system spends over 6 billion USD on the federal prison system.

Given the amount of people in prison for minor drug offenses, we can clearly see how much we could save on the prison system in another way, and that we don’t need to abolish the death penalty to save money.

Rebuttal 3: Innocents

My opponent has brought up the innocents executed under the current system.

Again we are looking toward the death penalty in general as there is no specific model we are debating according to the rules, we are simply debating whether the death penalty should be utilized.

Not only this, but I have proven a deterrent effect that prevents criminals from murdering others, thus preventing the loss of life. My opponent has stated that there are exonerations for those on the death penalty that have been accused of a crime before that would warrant the sentence, and we need to see that with less death penalty sentences in the status quo, we would already be seeing less people getting killed for crimes that are not committed.

Rebuttal 4: Racial prejudice

My opponent has claimed that racial prejudice is common in the system. However, if we were to look toward the Heritage Foundation, we would get a different story.

“When first looking at the raw data without controlling for case characteristics, RAND found that large race effects with the decision to seek the death penalty are more likely to occur when the defendants are white and when the victims are white.[4] However, these disparities disappeared in each of the three studies when the heinousness of the crimes was taken into account.[5] The RAND study concludes that the findings support the view that decisions to seek the death penalty are driven by characteristics of crimes rather than by race. RAND's findings are very compelling because three independent research teams, using the same data but different methodologies, reached the same conclusions.”

This is the RAND study which was mentioned. Which concluded the following

“However, all three teams found that controlling for case characteristics eliminated race effects. This finding supports the view that seek decisions were driven by heinousness of crimes rather than race.”

With this in mind, we can clearly see that there is no race bias within the death penalty. We look at the heinousness of the crime as opposed to this, and my opponent’s arguments fall. This is especially certain since all three groups studying this came back with the same conclusion. Even if there was, we are still not debating the current system. We are debating whether the death penalty in general is good. Vote pro.

Rebuttal 5: Closure

My opponent has brought up whether the families involved get closure over the death penalty. However, we can still have the death penalty while providing mental and psychological support to the family while deterring crime and protecting people. My argument of deterrence outweighs the moral argument proposed here. Also, see the argument above where I state my opponent has agreed to my terms about weighing the lives and cost involved over everything else. Keep this in mind.

Debate Round No. 3


Here's my defense against my opponent's rebuttals.

Defense I : Rights

My opponent claims that, because of the time the Declaration of Independence was written, they'd never know how we'd punish criminals today. But this contradicts that statement:

"This means that nobody - including the government - can try to end your life. It also means the government should take appropriate measures to safeguard life by making laws to protect you and, in some circumstances, by taking steps to protect you if your life is at risk. Public authorities should also consider your right to life when making decisions that might put you in danger or that affect your life expectancy." [1]

There are only four exceptions to this and none of which would make the death penalty acceptable.

"Article 2 is often referred to as an ‘absolute right’. These are rights that can never be interfered with by the state. There are situations, however, when it does not apply.

"For example, a person’s right to life is not breached if they die when a public authority (such as the police) uses necessary force to:

"stop them carrying out unlawful violence
make a lawful arrest
stop them escaping lawful detainment, and
stop a riot or uprising." [1]

Here's another quote to really hammer in my point:

"What the law says

"Article 2: Right to life

"1. Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which the penalty is provided by law.

"2. Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary..." [1]

Defense II : Costs

Yes, a plea bargian will reduce the costs like my opponent said, but not every case will end in a plea bargain. That's a fact. Yes, it's a high number of 90% [2], but in no way is that all cases. The cost is high regardless.

My opponent goes on to say that we aren't debating the current system, but the death penalty in general. Regardless, the cost is high. Can my opponent deny this?

Defense III : Innocents

My opponent claims that since the rates of the death penalty "gone down", the rates of innocent people being executed will surely go down. In fact, this notion is wrong. Why?

"From 1973-1999, there were an average of 3.03 exonerations per year. From 2000-2013, there have been an average of 4.29 exonerations per year." [3]

This shows that the rates have actually gone up. But that's besides the point. One in 25 innocents are killed with the death penalty. [4] This still proves my point that innocents are killed by the death penalty. My opponent can't deny this. With a life sentence, if the inmate is innocent, you can let them out. Can you do that is someone is killed with the death penalty?

Defense IV: Racial Prejudice

"According to a recently updated study by Professor Katherine Beckett of the University of Washington, jurors inWashington 'were four and one half times more likely to impose a sentence of death when the defendant was black than they were in cases involving similarly situated white defendants.'" [5]

"From initial charging decisions to plea bargaining to jury sentencing, African-Americans are treated more harshly when they are defendants, and their lives are accorded less value when they are victims. All-white or virtually all-white juries are still commonplace in many localities." [6]

Defense V: Closure

"What does it mean to get over grief? It means not being in pain over our loss forever. We tend to think discomforts are permanent, and good feelings are only temporary. Pain can be temporary too. We don’t forget or stop loving the person we loved, but we don’t always have to grieve. We can love and remember without pain. Ultimately, grief does subside." [7]

Grief doesn't magically go away. Like I said in my opening statements, only 2.7% of cases bring closure. And where do they get the money to support these families? How do we support them? Can't a life sentence be a viable option?



As per the rules set forth in the debate, I waive.
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TUF 5 months ago
Thanks for voting Nothing Special!
Posted by NothingSpecial99 5 months ago
Pro"s Case:

Deterrent Effect:

Pro"s initial argument here is well-written and backed here with substantial evidence. He provides numbers and data that show correlation between Death Penalty and number of murders every year. However, I feel as though Pro could do better presenting the information. If I was given a visual to better see the correlation, the argument would be better to understand and accept therefore stronger. Pro also provides good reason as to why the two variables are related with each other with his/her econometrics argument.

Con"s rebuttal includes a counter study done on the determinant effect with the death penalty which effectively makes me doubt the statistics Pro has brought up as we have a very small statistical sample to work with. Con also makes a good case that the determinant effect is less effective as it rests on hypocritical ideological grounds.

However, Pro points out that the counter study Con brought up has no relevance to his own study which was made in a latter year. After reviewing again the terms of the debate that both sides agreed to, it appears that Con"s immoral argument seems irrelevant as he/she fails make the connection with the argument to data. Since Pro had more substantial data to back up this argument, I give this argument to Pro.
Posted by NothingSpecial99 5 months ago
Lack of Alternatives:

Pro"s initial argument is irrelevant because if Con manages to provide a viable alternative to the death penalty, Pro loses this argument. Might I also note that his source for psychopathy just leads to FBI charts which seem irrelevant. The alternative Con produces is life in maximum security prison stating that death penalty cases are more expensive than life in prison. Pro"s rebuttal of life in prison doesn"t add up. He/she disputes the stats but rebuttal number one factually devoid as Con"s stat says "three times higher than what it would cost to imprison one inmate in the highest security prison cell available for 40 years.". 3 times 40 years is 120 years, effectively more than a lifetime. Rebuttal number 2 is mixed as it is agreed that the arguments will be balanced between lives saved and economic cost. Con established there is more economic cost but Pro"s deterrence argument held so lives are saved. While this specific rebuttal holds, it has severely lost much of its effectiveness. Rebuttal number three I don"t buy as Texas executes the most criminals every year therefore could be the best model for the United States for data. Overall, Pro has lost this argument to Con.
Posted by NothingSpecial99 5 months ago

The arguments concerning plea bargains in a death penalty case is very interesting and effective. Con concedes this argument. However, Con has established in the previous argument that a death penalty case without a plea bargain is more expensive. It is too hard to balance the saved costs from plea bargains versus the overall costs of death penalty cases. Con only succeeded in negating Pro"s argument however, whether or not he/she affirmed his/her case about cost will be seen when I analyze Con"s arguments.

Reforms Necessary:

Now this is an argument that holds a lot of weight in this debate. This is a debate about whether or not the death penalty should be abolished. If Pro can prove that all of Con"s issue with the death penalty can be fixed with reform, then it would be a major victory in this debate for Pro. With Pro"s defense of cost that the court system can be reformed to be simplified it could save his/her cost argument. However, the reform Pro suggests for say costs are really vague, and I as a voter am left wondering if such reform is possible. However, this does set a precedent for analyzing Con"s arguments.
Posted by NothingSpecial99 5 months ago
Con"s Case:

The Right to Life:
I have trouble seeing how this is relevant to the framework of this debate. This debate is to be weighted by economic effects and lives. With the death penalty, the only lives at stake is the life of the criminal in question along with future potential murder victims and their perpetrators. Pro has also brought this up against Con"s case for the right to life. However, with Pro"s deterrence argument holding out, more lives will be saved with the death penalty than without. Therefore, Pro has effectively refuted this argument.


Yes the costs are staggering as Con has put forward. However, Pro brings up the fact that money can be saved by reforming how the court system works. Con concedes to the fact that money can be saved here. Pro has also tried to refute this argument by arguing the costs of minor drug offenses. However, that part of his/her rebuttal is irrelevant to this debate. The reason why Pro fails to fully refute this argument is that his/her rebuttal needed some expanding. I need numbers presented as to how much money can be saved if the court system was reformed and if it is enough to counteract the huge costs of death penalty cases. Therefore, Con slightly edges Pro in this argument.
Posted by NothingSpecial99 5 months ago

Now this is an argument that holds a lot of weight in this debate. This argument provides some counter balance to Pro"s deterrence argument in that innocent lives are at stake. The numbers are really concerning as to how many innocents are killed every year. Con has also effectively refuted Pro"s rebuttal that stated that with reform in the court system, less executions will take place, and less innocents die. He/she does so by showing that despite the fact that number of executions have gone down, the number of innocent people executed has gone up per year. So the innocents argument for Con holds.

Racial Prejudice:

This argument is also very important as the lives lost are unjustly distributed more towards the racial minorities than whites. The studies Con provided however seem to be refuted by Pro"s study that attributed the racial disparities to the heinousness of the crime committed. Con bounced back however effectively by providing the University of Washington study that showed that despite a white man and a black man committing very similar crimes, the black man is still punished more than the white man. Therefore, this point goes to Con.
Posted by NothingSpecial99 5 months ago
It doesn"t provide closure:

While as not as important as racial prejudice or innocent lives at risk, the argument does hold weight despite Pro"s claims. Lives and costs are to be weighted in this debate the trauma and mental anguish can bring serious damage to lives which is why this argument holds weight. With substantial data and case studies, Con effectively argued this point. Pro"s rebuttal that mental and psychological help can be provided is actually counter productive as such would add to the cost of the death penalty. Because the rebuttal was counter productive, this point stands for Con.

The Verdict:

In terms of the lives aspect of judging this debate, Con barely edges out Pro. Despite Pro maintaining a deterrence argument, the combined lives of the innocents executed, the number of racial minorities unjustly given the death penalty compared to their white counterparts, and the emotional damage to the victim"s family outweighs Pro"s deterrence argument. With the economic costs, Con also barely beats Pro in this side of the debate. However, Pro"s reform argument is very persuasive and could potentially tip the balance of this debate in Pro"s favor. If Pro hammered on with this key point and elaborated more on how reform of the death penalty could reduce the amount of lives lost with the death penalty maintained, he/she would have won this debate. Unfortunately for Pro, he/she did not do this sufficiently enough.

In conclusion, the arguments go to Con.
Posted by missbailey8 5 months ago

I have no idea why that font is even there. I tried to change it, but for whatever reason, it stayed like that. I'm truly sorry that it came out like that.
Posted by NothingSpecial99 5 months ago

Ugh, why did you have to write your final round arguments in such an ugly font. Some of the words are very hard to read and some other words are entirely illegible
Posted by missbailey8 5 months ago
Thank you very much!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by NothingSpecial99 5 months ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct, S&G, and Sources were tied. The justification for arguments is given in the comment section. (Note: This vote was cast on behalf of the Voters' Union)