The Instigator
mongeese
Con (against)
Winning
33 Points
The Contender
brittwaller
Pro (for)
Losing
21 Points

Death Penalty

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/30/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,697 times Debate No: 9883
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (21)
Votes (10)

 

mongeese

Con

Death Penalty - Capital Punishment - http://en.wikipedia.org...

Resolved: The death penalty should be used at times as punishment for a crime.

I negate the resolution.

I reserve the right to make new contentions in future rounds.

Contention 1: Costs Too Much [1]
The government spends millions of dollars paid for by the taxpayers, just to try to get a person killed. This is, to put it simply, a waste of money. It costs much less money to keep people convicted of high felonies locked up under maximum security, and it would also create jobs in security.

Contention 2: Risky
People are often released from Death Row through DNA evidence that previously was unavaliable. [2] "In the U.S., as of June 2002, 108 people including 12 death row inmates, have been exonerated by use of DNA tests." This means that the death penalty has most likely killed at least one innocent person. Keeping people under maximum security would allow for the release of a person later discovered to be innocent. The death penalty, however, once delivered, cannot be repealed.

That should do it for now. Good luck to my future opponent.

1. http://www.deathpenalty.org...
2. http://www.aclu.org...
brittwaller

Pro

Thank you to mongeese for presenting this debate. I look forward to a good one.

Resolved: The death penalty should be used at times as punishment for a crime.

I affirm the resolution. All rights reserved.

First, I will give refutations of my opponent's contentions to the use of the death penalty, then I will argue in direct support of the death penalty.

1. Financial Cost
----------------------
My opponent argues that the cost of death penalty trials and appeals make the death penalty impractical as a punishment in comparison to the lower costs of non-capital trials appeals. On the face of it, this assessment is correct - it does cost more, as evidenced by his source. However, this contention is not with the idea of the death penalty itself, but rather with the expedition of justice in our legal system, and to a lesser extent with the salaries of public counsel, the amount of luxury given to American prisoners, and the amount of rights Americans are at-large are afforded. (The scope of the debate is, I would assume, wider than the consideration of America alone, but this is the most convenient and pertinent example to use, as well as the sole concern of this contention of my opponent.)

If justice is to be served, and the purpose of the death penalty (or any other punishment) is to see to that, then financial cost is, first and foremost, irrelevant. This is necessary for there to be any notion of "justice" (http://dictionary.reference.com...) to be possible.

Suppose A murders B after planning it for five years, and C steals D's wallet. A and C are taken into custody and charged with their respective crimes, capital murder and theft, on the same day. Both are found guilty during their initial trials. For C, justice is relatively swift and uncontroversial - D pays restitution to C and serves a nominal sentence, perhaps six months in jail in addition to a year of probation. For A, justice necessarily requires more time if it is to be administered with proper rights afforded to the accused, as in this case justice requires the ending of a life by the state and thus requires closer scrutiny, which naturally takes longer than considerations regarding imprisonment only. Justice here is what is prescribed by the state as the proper punishment for a crime. In our legal system, the death penalty is a possibility as a punishment for certain crimes. Therefore if justice is the end sought, and the death penalty is the proper punishment for a crime, or justice, then each case must work its way through the system until that end is achieved, regardless of the means.

2. Risk
----------
My opponent here argues that the death penalty is too "risky" a form of punishment to be in use, in light of the fact that a person convicted of a crime may be found innocent at some future time, and if they have been executed, they cannot be released.

I would respond that if the convict cannot prove their innocence, by whatever means, with the ample amount of time and resources provided to them by the system and evidenced by the contention of cost already mentioned, then they are guilty and thus deserve their punishment. Certainly, the convicted should use DNA evidence - a technology which should help expedite the trial and appeals processes, as this this would cut much of the cost already mentioned.

My opponent quotes the ultra-liberal ACLU: "In the U.S., as of June 2002, 108 people including 12 death row inmates, have been exonerated by use of DNA tests." First, there were nearly 7,000 people under the death sentence in 2002 [1]. That only 12 had been exonerated by DNA evidence since it began to be more widely used, circa 1986, [2] hardly constitutes "risk." Second, if there have been some errors, mistakes in distribution do not necessitate the repeal of the death penalty. Does the fact that 96 people sentenced to other punishments than the death penalty had been exonerated by DNA evidence mean that their respective punishments are too "risky" to be in use? Hardly, if "risky" means such a high probability of being incorrect that the odds do not favor taking the risk. In that sense, the death penalty is far from risky as well.

===============

I have affirmed that the death penalty should, at times, be used as punishment for a crime. As it already is a punishment, the status quo is with me. As the instigator and reformer, my opponent bears the burden of proof.

Therefore, let me simply say this. The death penalty should probably not be used as much as it currently is. It does not follow, however, that it should not be used at all. Trials and appeals should be handled more expeditiously if possible; neither is this a reason to not put to death those deserving of such punishment. Some criminals deserve such punishment, and justice requires that they get it; if the criminal deserves the punishment, it would indeed be unjust to punish them in any other form. This in itself is reason enough for the death penalty to be used in certain cases.

1. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov...
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 1
mongeese

Con

Thank you for your response, brittwaller.

A. Contention 1+: Financial Cost

My opponent argues that the cost only applies to the American death penalty, and the rights afforded to American criminals. However, if one were to take away this multitude of rights from the accused, the risk factor will shoot up, and even with just a few extra requirements in a capital punishment case, the cost of the trial would still greatly exceed that of a life sentence.

"If justice is to be served, and the purpose of the death penalty (or any other punishment) is to see to that, then financial cost is, first and foremost, irrelevant."

I would have to disagree. If you decided that you would deal great amounts of pain to a person, and the only purpose of your action is to bring pain, should you break all of his limbs with a rock, or should you buy billions of expensive nanotechnologic robots to attack each and every pain receptor in his body? Obviously, price matters. I would like to ask you directly, brittwaller, would you be willing to spend $10.9 million dollars out of your own money just to have a person that you really don't care about killed instead of imprisoned for life? Voters, what about you? For a fact, because 3% of Californians pay 60% of California's taxes [1], about one million people together spend about six million dollars just to have some guy they don't care about killed. The question is, is that a wise way to spend money? No, it is not wise to spend your own money on something that will not affect anybody's lives in any positive way. That's just a whole bunch of negativity.

Now, my opponent says that the death penalty is necessary for liberty. What I would like to know is, why is the death penalty necessary for justice?

My opponent's situation about A, B, C, and D is actually false. It assumes it is a given that A murdered B. However, we don't know if A really did murder B. We just know that the evidence points at A murdering B. E, planning for five years, did not leave any concrete evidence for a trial, and instead planted evidence and even had A go missing on the night of the murder, so that everybody think that, without a doubt, A was the murderer. E gets away, and A is killed. Twenty years later, it is discovered that E was guilty, as he writes about it on his deathbed, and everybody looks back and realizes, "Hey, we spent a million dollars to have an innocent man killed, and he'd be alive and ready to leave if we just used our heads, and spared our money and his life."

"For A, justice necessarily requires more time if it is to be administered with proper rights afforded to the accused, as in this case justice requires the ending of a life by the state and thus requires closer scrutiny, which naturally takes longer than considerations regarding imprisonment only."
Why, then, would the state require the death penalty for justice, if it knows that it would cost more money and only deprive one person of their life, with no benefit towards anybody else? It's an injustice to the taxpayers, that's what it is.

Additionally, it uses circular reasoning. It assumes that because the state requires the death penalty, then the death penalty must be achieved, regardless of the cost. That means that if a case bankrupted the nation, we'd still have to go through with it. The smart thing to do would be to remove the non-justified requirement of the death penalty.

B. Contention 2+: Risk

My opponent assumes that if a person cannot prove their innocence in a long amount of time, then they must be guilty. However, many times, proving one's innocence is impossible. The recent use of DNA evidence would not have been able to save somebody in the 18th century from the death penalty. We will probably discover another method of determining innocence in the near future, and some people will only be proven innocent through that method. That means that innocent people today, without that method, are unable to prove themselves innocent, and therefore die needlessly. Additionally, a proper framing provides the victim with no chance of escape.

My opponent claims that because only twelve of the 7,000 in Death Row were exonerated by DNA evidence, the risk is extremely small. However, there are many probably many more on Death Row that would be exonerated by DNA evidence, had DNA evidence been avaliable. And again, many would probably be exonerable by some other method, had that method actually existed today. Furthermore, with the discovery of DNA evidence comes the use of DNA framing. In the end, we can only conclude that we have no clue how many innocent people are on Death Row, but we do know that they've been there, and we do know that some of them have died.

My opponent chooses to equate the death penalty with other punishments as "risky. However, the real risk comes from the fact that the death penalty is permanent, while others are not. The risk of permanently killing an innocent man is too much to risk. Is the death of one hundred men worth the death of a thousand guilty? (Remember that these guilty could more easily be imprisoned, and are not currently out on the streets killing others.) Is the death of one man worth the death of a million guilty, when they could all be imprisoned instead? No, the death of an innocent man is not worth seeking justice.

C. Hypothetical Situation

Let's say, brittwaller, that you're suddenly arrested by the police. You are told that you are on trial for a man found murdered in the woods behind your house. The murder weapon left at the crime scene has your fingerprints all over it, and the man murdered happens to hate you. Everybody knows that there's been a conflict between the two of you. There are footprints from your shoes leading outside towards the murder scene, and back to your house, and your shoes are dirty. Now, you know that you were asleep at the time of the murder. However, you have no way of proving this. Due to the intense evidence used to frame you, you are found guilty of murder. The police call it an open-close case, and stop investigating, and you sit on death row for five years, unable to leave and go to your house to perhaps find the evidence that could liberate you, although the method of proving this evidence to be valid won't be discovered for another century. And so, you are killed by injection. Was your death worth the deaths of any number of criminals?

D. Conclusion Analysis

"Some criminals deserve such punishment, and justice requires that they get it..."
I agree that some deserve the death penalty; however, our method of dealing it is hardly efficient enough. The ends really don't justify the means, especially when the ends already seem dirty.
Why should justice require that criminals get the punishment they deserve, when it is so inefficient?

"...if the criminal deserves the punishment, it would indeed be unjust to punish them in any other form."
However, when we mix the deserving criminals with the undeserving, and are charged with a cost for ever death, it would be unjust to merely discard the innocent lives along with the guilty, moreso than sparing some from what they deserve.

"This in itself is reason enough for the death penalty to be used in certain cases."
However, we do not know which cases they are, in which case, we shouldn't use it at all.

E. Conclusion

Many innocents would be killed by the state if the death penalty is used, and the cost is really to high to bother with. Why spend millions to kill the innocent and the guilty? It just doesn't logically make sense. A life sentence keeps them off the street and punishes them just the same. Why go the extra mile when it's just so risky?

1. http://www.sfgate.com...
brittwaller

Pro

brittwaller forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
mongeese

Con

Well, this is slightly a shame. Vote CON, for reasons mentioned in Round 2.
brittwaller

Pro

brittwaller forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by brittwaller 4 years ago
brittwaller
Yea actually... why do I have any points? Here is an open request for their rescission. I voted CON long ago.
Posted by Maikuru 4 years ago
Maikuru
Default to Con due to multiple forfeits.
Posted by mongeese 4 years ago
mongeese
"Remember that time you argued for my opponent on my debate and then give my opponent convincing arguments... and then I said I would remember? Well, I remembered."
1. I wasn't arguing for your opponent. I was pointing out that your last-round argument was a lie, in which case, you wouldn't deserve the vote. Otherwise, it would be impossible for the Instigator to win a 1-Round debate, and I already know you don't believe that.
2. That was after the debate. This is during the debate.
Posted by Xer 4 years ago
Xer
"Actually, it would have to do with biblical law, and biblical law is extremely unclear, but the general gist is that if a kill is justifiable (self-defense, war, etc.), then it is not murder. Murder implies an innocent target."
>According to Christian ethics, killing is only justified when your own life is in danger, like self-defense and war, and when there are no alternatives. A person on death row does not represent danger to anyone and there are also alternatives to killing.

"Perhaps the Comment debate should wait until after the Debate debate."
>Remember that time you argued for my opponent on my debate and then give my opponent convincing arguments... and then I said I would remember? Well, I remembered.
Posted by mongeese 4 years ago
mongeese
"Hmm, I didn't know that the current US legal system has anything to do with God's definition of murder. So I guess when the US makes killing random ten-year olds legal, you will agree with it - because it is legal. Also, you must agree that abortion is moral in some states because it is legal in some states."
Actually, it would have to do with biblical law, and biblical law is extremely unclear, but the general gist is that if a kill is justifiable (self-defense, war, etc.), then it is not murder. Murder implies an innocent target.

"Do you know what it means that trials are the cost difference between death penalty and the life sentence, if those trials are necessary?"
It means that the life sentence is a cheaper alternative.

"It means that under the death penalty, justice happens, and under a life sentence, it does not, as the trial is inadequate to establish guilt apparently."
Life sentence is still punishment. Just not as much to some people. Paying millions of dollars extra just to extend justice a tad bit isn't necessarily wise.

"Switching to a life sentence on the grounds of saving money on trials means nothing more and nothing less than sentencing innocents to a cage for the rest of their lives."
But you can get that innocent person out of the cage if necessary.

Perhaps the Comment debate should wait until after the Debate debate.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 4 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"
mongoose, your scenario never happens. There's never a cheap death penalty. "When it is certain" doesn't get by the numerous trials necessary for a death penalty."
Do you know what it means that trials are the cost difference between death penalty and the life sentence, if those trials are necessary?

It means that under the death penalty, justice happens, and under a life sentence, it does not, as the trial is inadequate to establish guilt apparently. Switching to a life sentence on the grounds of saving money on trials means nothing more and nothing less than sentencing innocents to a cage for the rest of their lives.
Posted by Xer 4 years ago
Xer
"Nags, you're missing the 'illegally.'"
>Hmm, I didn't know that the current US legal system has anything to do with God's definition of murder. So I guess when the US makes killing random ten-year olds legal, you will agree with it - because it is legal. Also, you must agree that abortion is moral in some states because it is legal in some states.

"There were many death penalties in the Bible."
>So? There were countless atrocities in the Bible. Just because Event X happened in the Bible, does not mean that God agrees with Event X - it simply means that there is acnowledgment of Event X happening.
Posted by alto2osu 4 years ago
alto2osu
While I'll leave the argumentation to brittwaller, I will say that there are plenty of penological and social reasons why the death penalty, with certain caveats of course, is appropriate and just.
Posted by mongeese 4 years ago
mongeese
mongoose, your scenario never happens. There's never a cheap death penalty. "When it is certain" doesn't get by the numerous trials necessary for a death penalty. And everybody can do work. Put 'em on a bike.
Posted by mongoose 4 years ago
mongoose
I'm more in favor of a cheap death penalty, only used when it is certain, unless it is possible to have the people in prison do work to help pay for there stay.
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