The Instigator
Ore_Ele
Pro (for)
Losing
10 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Con (against)
Winning
27 Points

Death Penalty

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 8 votes the winner is...
Danielle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/8/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,122 times Debate No: 16947
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (42)
Votes (8)

 

Ore_Ele

Pro

Full resolution: The death penalty is an ideal form of punishment for particular criminal cases.

My stance on the Death Penalty: While I support rehabilitation in as many cases as possible, there are some cases where the Death Penalty is the best option. I only believe that the DP (Death Penalty) will be of absolutly no value when we have the option of completely (with 100% certainty) brainwashing criminals to esentually make them into "new" people.

Now, in order for this debate to really mean anything, my opponent and I will have to agree on what the purpose of the justice system is for. If my opponent would like, she may reject the challenge, we can talk via PM to come to some kind of agreement, and re-start the debate.

But, if she does accept, I'll put some definitions down.

Death Penalty - "The legal punishment of execution."

ideal - "best available"

These two definitions are not challengeable.

What is challengeable is the purpose of the justice system (I predict much of this debate will focus around this). I view the justice system's purpose as a system to attempt to maximize justice for both individuals and society as a whole (since this is challengeable, it is subject to change through out the debate).

justice - "The quality of being fair and reasonable."

This is free to be challenged. Since we may have different views of the justice system, we may also have different views on justice. I could go on with definitions of "fair" and "reasonable" however, those only get more subjective as we dig deeper, so I will just leave them as subjective and free to be argued.

My opponent is free to start this round, or accept and pass to me to start in the next round.

Thank you,
Danielle

Con

Many thanks to my opponent for engaging in what I hope will be a fun, interesting and challenging debate :)

For all intents and purposes, I accept Pro's proposed definitions and terms. I can't forsee arguments over semantics being a problem, and trust that we will both try to avoid that as much as possible. I suspect Pro will appeal to practicality while I will attempt to show that capital punishment is not reasonable and/or just. As such, it would fail to meet my opponent's criteria of the "ideal" punishment, for a more just and reasonable alternative would mean that there is a better available option.

I agree that delving too deep into defining justice right off the bat can be problematic, so for now I accept what was presented and trust that we'll be able to resolve any disputes as we go along. Thanks again, OreEle, and good luck!
Debate Round No. 1
Ore_Ele

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate and look forward to this debate. FYI, please read my comment before reading this entire debate.

In order for us to accept the death penalty is a valid option in some cases, it needs to be shown that the death penalty can be the ideal option in particular cases. To do this, we must first look at what the justice system is trying to accomplish. This is the maximization of justice on for both individuals and for soceity as a whole. Of course, any justice system is going to be run by humans for the foreseeable future, and so subject to mistakes. This is regardless of what punishment method the system chooses for any individual case. However, it should be noted that the system is designed to "try its best".

Crimes can have more than just financial harm, and often, these other types of harms cannot be restored by monetary compensation alone. I'll use a burglary as an example. If someone breaks into a home, robs it of $600 and causes $2,900 of damage in the process has actually done more damage than the $3,500 that is measurable in dollars and cents. Their is psychological damage which is done to the family. There sence of security, which allows them to function in our society and economy has taken a hit. Their trust in their "fellow man" has also taken a hit. These do not have monetary value to them, and so cannot be recompensated in that manner to individuals within soceity. By simply making the criminal repay the damages, plus court costs, then going back on the street leaves the psychological damage unresolved.

One option that the justice system has to resolve the psychological damage is to remove the element that caused the harm. By removing the element that caused "distrust," trust can start to reform, and things can start to get back to normal. Such options include prison, rehabilitation centers, house arrest, restrainning orders, or various others. With all of these options, we see that when people abuse their rights to harm others, those rights can justly be limited, or taken away.

Now, one could argue, is it fair or just to take away the rights of a criminal because one person feels "unsafe" around them? To this, I'd first like to say that it isn't just one victim, it is many people in society that are harmed by it. If someone breaks into my neighbor's house and rapes them, my own view of the safety of the neighborhood is harmed and my own views of trust in my fellow man is harmed. While not to the same degree as my neighbor who was actually raped, there is still some harm done. Obviously the more serious the crime, the more that psychological harm is spread (a murder effects the communisty more than a burglary).

This lack of trust and lack of safety, can be viewed as a "threat." Threat - "A person or thing likely to cause damage or danger." Of course, we find that the word "likely" tosses in a fun level of subjectivity, but that is up to the courts to decide what is "likely" and to what degree. Obviously, if someone has a history of doing a particular action, they are likely to continue unless something causes them to change. Simply reverting back to the conditions prior to the crime, would yield the same conditions for the criminal, and so we can actually say that they are highly likely to repeat their crime (pending the nature of the crime, their motivation, and their ability to carry it out again). Even libertarians, who we could argue value individual freedoms more than most, acknowledge that threats need to be removed and are acceptable reasons to violate someone's rights (in order to eliminate the threat).

This allows us to accept that punishing criminals in manners outside of simple financial compensation. Which is needed, because a large number of crimes, financial compensation is not accurate at all. Simple example, we wouldn't accept that a murderer can simply pay the family of his victim $4 million dollars (lets say that was what was estimated as how much the victim would have made throughout their life) and walk free.

So if we accept that removing them as a threat to society is an adequate form of punishment, then we must realize that permanent removal of a threat is acceptable if the threat is deemed to be never "fixable." The only argument against this would be to believe that every single person is "fixable." I don't believe that my opponent will make that case, so I will move on, though they are free to do so if they wish.

This leaves us contemplating the two forms of permanent threat removal, the death penalty and life inprisonment. The rest of this argument will be based on comparing those two.

1) The death penalty can more accurate than life inprisonment.

Prison escapes happen, again we are forced to acknowledge that we are not perfect, but that we must try our best. With all else being equal (so that the only difference is the punishment), the more years a person spends in prison, the greater the chance they will escape. Once the person is dead (either execution or old age), the chance of escapeing death is 0%.

For example, lets say that with X prevention systems in place, the escape rate is 3.7 per 100,000 inmates per year (just a random number). This means that any given convict will have a .0037% of escaping this year. So if someone spends 10 years before being executed, they will have a .037% of escaping before being executed. And if someone else spends 40 years before dying of natural causes, they will have a .148% of escaping over that time.

The exact numbers are .999963^10 = .0369938% and .999963^40 = .1478933%

2) The death penalty can be cheaper than life inprisonment.

It is often sourced that the death penalty is currently more expensive than a life sentence, but one must wonder why? Lets use the same numbers from the previous point, that the DP goes 10 years in prision before the execution, and the LI goes 40 years before passing. Is there a reason that those first 10 years should have any difference in cost? Is it fair or reasonable to say that we can spend less on keeping murderer A locked up than murderer B if all aspects of their crime ar equal? No, the prison should be equally expensive for those first 10 years for both. How about the trial and following appeals? Is it fair or reasonible that just because someone gets life (again, assuming that all other aspects are equal) that they get less appeals? Or that they get a less qualified lawyer? Or that they get an unequal trial? No, if one of the justice system's goals is to be fair, than the trial cost should be equal and not dependent upon the punishment method.

This brings us to the last part of cost. If the trials are equal, and the first 10 years are equal, we see the only difference is the actual execution vs the last 30 years for the life inprisonment. Various methods of execution can be done, ranging from $0.13 for a single bullet and $30 worth of labor to pull the trigger and clean up afterwards, to lethal injection, of which the chemicals cost around $90.00, and then there is the labor for several people to administer and obverse to ensure things are done right. There is no logical reason that an execution (the act itself) should cost more than a few thousand dollars. The same cannot be said for keeping someone locked up, fed, clothed, and monitered for a few more decades.

3) Both are equally accurate vs innocent

Since they both use the same legal and justice system in reaching the guilty or not guilty verdict, the chances of convicting an innocent are equal for both the death penalty and life inprisonment.

I thank my opponent again, and all the readers that actually made it through this mess of my writting.
Danielle

Con

Thanks again, OreEle.

In their assessment against the DP, pundits Penn and Teller ask 4 important questions: Is it ever morally right to kill a human being if you are not at war or being immediately threatened? Is the biblical eye for an eye punishment acceptable? Do you trust the government to kill only bad people? Should we kill bad people if it saves us money? We'll be examining these and other issues throughout the debate.

State sanctioned murder of one who does not pose an immediate threat is a moral proposition; not a practical or factual one. If Pro accepts that killing is wrong, then he must justify violating that moral standard as well as forcing 36% of Americans who oppose the DP to kill against their will. The desire to want to kill someone is a barbaric instinct, and the more we control it the better.


In the last round, Pro acknowledged that he must prove the DP is the ideal form of punishment in some cases. Unfortunately none of his points met this burden. While I agree that certain harms cannot be compensated by monetary reparations, how does killing someone achieve that? The victim isn't even alive to receive their "compensation." Pro mentioned the value of security for society; however, as he explained there are various other options to remove threats.

Additionally, not all families of victims either want the DP or feel better after the DP has been carried out, proving that this is merely my opponent's opinion of what would constitute as just compensation. The Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation and Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights are national organizations of family members who oppose the DP in all cases [1, 2]. They released a report called "Creating More Victims: How Executions Hurt the Families Left Behind" [3]. Parents of murder victim Shannon Schieber have said, "For us, the DP is not the way to honor our daughter’s life.” Other families have said that although they initially supported the DP soon after the crime, they later changed their mind [4].

As you can see, just compensation is subjective. Not everyone feels that revenge is the best value to achieve justice. Moreover, just because it might make some people feel good to kill another does not necessarily make it a just or moral form of punishment which Pro has the burden of proving logically. No amount of money can bring a victim back, and killing the assailant will not bring the victim back either. As such, there is no sufficient "compensation," including the DP.

Pro contends that because inmates have the potential to escape, killing them provides a better sense of security to society. However Pro by his own admission presents a completely random statistic about the likelihood of someone escaping from prison. The most recent year for which data about prison escapees available from the Bureau of Justice Statistics is 1998, in which it was reported that just 0.5% of inmates escaped. However, (a) the numbers are declining every year, and (b) that figure consists mostly of inmates from community corrections facilities that have minimal supervision [5]. Corrections experts agree that more guards and better technology are largely responsible for the very low chance that someone can actually escape a maximum security prison [6].

Pro also contends that the DP can and should cost less than keeping someone in jail. While the actual cost of the execution can be cheaper, the cost of appeals is an integral part of the criminal justice system. If Pro suggests that defendants facing death row should not have access to these appeals and due process, then he is inhibiting and weakening the justice system - not strengthening it. Killing someone is not to be taken lightly, especially if you're arguing that killing violates the ultimate moral value hence warranting the DP to begin with. Vengenace is immediate while the law is slow and methodical.


The criminal justice system ought to keep in mind that fallible, biased and emotionally volatile jurors with potentially weak or misleading evidence can and have mistakenly condemned innocent people to death. This is especially because most defendants cannot afford the best attorneys. A prosecutor that loses a number of cases will not be a prosecutor for long. As such, problems of prosecutor misconduct, police falsifying evidence, etc. has contributed to wrongful convictions in numerous instances. For obvious reasons, this is more permanent and drastic than mistakenly sentencing someone to LI where they could be be exonerated upon new evidence.

A 2004 study by Samuel Gross found 4 cases of posthumous exonerations between 1989 and 2004. Posthumous exoneration numbers appear to be very small in comparison to the whole number of documented executions largely because of the difficulty of gaining access to cases after an inmate has been executed. In most instances, all case files and evidence are destroyed following an execution. Despite that, research indicates that in that 15 year time span, there have been at least 74 cases in which wrongful executions have most likely taken place [7].

It's interesting that Pro wants us to ignore the possibility of taking an innocent life, but expects us to care about the even smaller likelihood of someone escaping from maximum security prison. This is contradictory. If we must accept the small chance of someone escaping from jail, then we must accept the chance of killing an innocent person on death row.

Another problem: If taking an innocent life is the worst possible crime you can commit regardless of the assailant's motive - and as such warrants death for doing so - then do those who either sentence or carry out the sentence of killing an innocent person on death row also deserve the DP? Most would say no, which presents another obvious and convenient contradiction.

Many cases throughout history have been won on appeals. Pro's suggestion that the cost for trials be equal for different defendants is unrealistic as individual cases require different resources. This is especially true for a potential death sentence. While I agree that those facing LI should have access to a fair trial as well, the obvious discrepancy is not only the permanence of the sentence, but the fact that it requires us to take a human being's life which for most people is the ultimate moral absolute. It makes sense that a sentence so final and morally questionable requires a degree of certainty that may require a more drawn out legal process. However, if Pro is so concerned about those on death row being more espensive prisoners, this could easily be resolved by eliminating the DP all together.

While it's true that the DP would stop killers from ever killing again, it would also stop thieves from stealing again yet most only advocate the DP for the most serious crimes, i.e., murder. Pro must explain why the eye for an eye mentality ought to apply to murder but not any other crime. For example, a rapist's punishment is not rape. To say that murder is the only crime that warrants "equal" punishment proves that this is an appeal to emotion and not reason. Furthermore, Pro must explain why the purpose of the justice system IS punishment, especially since it's been demonstrated that the DP fails to serve as an effective deterrent against murder. As such, what does it actually accomplish that benefits or protects society? Why kill people to prove that killing people is wrong? Even if Pro manages to persuade us that punishment is an integral part of the justice system, he will have to convince us that inmates are not in fact punished.

Fortunately I've responded to all of Pro's contentions before running out of characters, though I will make several points in the next round about potential alternatives and why they are superior. So far it has not been demonstrated that the DP is the ideal form of punishment.


SOURCES: http://www.debate.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Ore_Ele

Pro

I thank my opponent for her round and will try to address every point.

First, lets go over the 4 question asked by Penn and Teller.

1) Morals are subjective and vary from person to person, as such, they cannot be the basis for the legal system. While society my form a contract of morals and turn it into law, that has more to do with what should be a law, and what should not, rather than anything to do with a punishment system.

2) Not inherently, there are times where it may be ideal, and times where it may not. If a man rapes a women, simply raping him back (about 3 months in prison) and letting him go free after that would not be what is best for society, as the chances of him repeating his offense are relatively high.

3) Is not relavent. If the government is wrong in killing innocent people, it is also wrong in locking innocent people up forever. This is an issue with the imperfections with humans as judges, not with the punishment assigned. As pointed out in Con's own sources, many have died in prision that were falsely accused, even though they weren't executed. [1]

4) If it is deemed that what is best for soceity is for those individuals to NEVER be a part of society (any society) ever again, thus striping them of almost all human rights, then killing them to save money is acceptable. We've already said that we want them to vanish and never come back.

My opponent says, "State sanctioned murder of one who does not pose an immediate threat is a moral proposition; not a practical or factual one." To this I would disagree. One does not need to present an immediate threat, but merely a known threat, and one that cannot be removed through other means (rehab and such). If a court determines that a person will always be a threat to the lives of people in soceity and so the person should be locked away forever, death is the most secure form of lockup a person can be placed in forever. It really has no barring on the morals of it.

"he explained there are various other options to remove threats." I also explained that these other options are not a sure fire method, and if there ever was a 100% guarenteed method, I would support it. But alas, there is no method. Execution is the only 100% accurate way of removing someone from society.

"Additionally, not all families of victims either want the DP or feel better after the DP has been carried out, proving that this is merely my opponent's opinion of what would constitute as just compensation." And many families do support the death penalty and state that it provides closure. We also find that many families, after loosing loved ones tend to be emotional, and so not ideal for providing just judgement, where a judge, who is far from perfect, but closer than an emotional family member, can do a better job. Simply because a victim wants a particular punishment does not mean that is the ideal form. We should also note, that the DP does not claim to be a form of compensation and that was never my argument.

"As such, there is no sufficient "compensation," including the DP." Which is why the justice system, and the DP are not forms of compensation.

"Pro contends that because inmates have the potential to escape, killing them provides a better sense of security to society. However Pro by his own admission presents a completely random statistic about the likelihood of someone escaping from prison."

I will do this in a more open algebric equation. The chances of escape is X% per year. If a person on death row gets 15 years before being executed, and a person with life imprisonment is in prision for 25 years before dying, then their chances of escape are...

DP = 1-(1-X%)^15
LI = 1-(1-X%)^25

The only mathematical way for the LI person to not have a greater chance of escaping is if the chance of escaping is absolutely 0%, even if the number is 1 in 100 million per year, Life Imprisonment will always have a greater risk of escape (with everything else being equal).

"Pro also contends that the DP can and should cost less than keeping someone in jail... If Pro suggests that defendants facing death row should not have access to these appeals and due process, then he is inhibiting and weakening the justice system." Con seems to have missed my argument on this. This is actually supporting my argument. There is no reason that a person with life imprisionment should be receiving a lower quality of justice than one on death row. If the crimes are equal, then they should both be receiveing the same amount of appeals, and lawyers, and everything else. There is no reason that the DP should cost more. By saying that LI should have a lower quality of justice, they are being denied justice altogether.

"If taking an innocent life is the worst possible crime you can commit regardless of the assailant's motive..." This is a strawman argument. At no point is this argument made, nor would I ever make such an argument. To claim that taking an innocent life regardless of motive, would imply that accidently killing someone in a car crash = murder. As it doesn't, nor do I consider it to. This argument is meaningless, the motive, along with risk of repeat offenses are key in determining how to best handle any criminal.

"Many cases throughout history have been won on appeals. Pro's suggestion that the cost for trials be equal for different defendants is unrealistic as individual cases require different resources." This was not my argument at all. Only that two people with identical cases, but one is going for the DP and one is going for LI (rest being equal, in movtive, method, risk of repeat, etc), one form should not received less than the other. We should not simply say "We're not going to execute you, only put you in prision for the rest of your life, so you get a less qualified lawyer and fewer appeals, sorry."

If there are differences in the cases, of course, those differences may constitute different costs, however, a punishment of DP or LI should not, logically, have any ramification on the cost.

"While it's true that the DP would stop killers from ever killing again, it would also stop thieves from stealing again yet most only advocate the DP for the most serious crimes, i.e., murder. Pro must explain why the eye for an eye mentality ought to apply to murder but not any other crime. For example, a rapist's punishment is not rape." This is simple, the reason for executing someone is not based upon "an eye for an eye," but rather based upon the risks of someone comitting future offenses and the effect of those potential offenses upon society. A murder effects society much more severly than a theft, and so the punishment should be geared, first at can we rehabilitate them, so that the risk of repeat is lower, if not nullified all together, then, can we convince them that their punishment is worse than any benefit they get from the crime, to deter them.

I have based my argument upon the notion that the DP should be an option, not just for a particular crime (like for murder), but for individuals who cannot be accurate rehibilitated and are deemed by an objective (by that I mean attempting to be as objective as possible, no hidden agendas) justice system to have sufficient risk of repeat serious crimes agains society.

To this, I think it is only fair to provide some examples (I should have 2nd round, sorry). Osama Bin Ladin and Sadam Hussein. Both had a serious intent on killing innocent civilians and both had almost no chance of ever being rehibilitated. Added that the risk of their escapes (namely being "rescued" by their supporters) was significant. There are cases where the DP is ideal, as rehab is not plausible and LI is risky, unless Con can show that rehab would work, or LI is completely safe.

Thank you

[1] http://www.the-slammer.org...
Danielle

Con

First, Pro suggests that morals are not and should not be the basis for a legal system. In that case, I invite Pro to explain exactly what is. Even the most anarchistic society is founded on a moral principle (i.e., tyranny of government is immoral). I'm confused by Pro's suggestion that society forms moral contracts that determine law, and then that morals shouldn't have anything to do with punishment. If within that moral contract it suggests that punishment ought to be prescribed to those who violate the moral contract (law) to achieve justice, then the morality of said punishment is indeed relevant. That said, I'll re-ask the first question: Is it ever morally right to kill a human being if you are not being immediately threatened? This must be morally justified before it can be turned into law by Pro's own standards.

Second, Pro says there may be times where the "eye for an eye" system of justice ought to be applied. Obviously I'd like an expansion, such as when and why. Pro said raping a rapist would not be a legitimate form of punishment as society may still be in danger. Again, if removing a threat to society is the only standard of punishment for a just legal system, then all I'd have to do is prove that one in maximum security prison will likely not escape in order to dismantle his support of the DP. I could even advocate more security to diminish the chance of escape even further. While there are no guarantees, "the best we can do" is the standard Pro has set for us.

Third, I asked if we trust the government to kill only bad people. Pro says this is irrelevant. In the last round I explained why issuing the DP is different than LI. In addition to no possibility of exonerating an innocent party, taking a human life is considered the ultimate moral absolute. If Pro thinks that being detained is equivalent to death, then he has already defeated his own argument of why the DP ought to be preferred.

Lastly, Pro writes that LI and the DP can have similar effects, but states "killing [them] to save money is acceptable." Is justice really being achieved if the criterion is strictly a cost-benefit analysis? Pro's already said he doesn't want those facing the DP to have access to more appeals since it can be more expensive. In that case, why not strip the justice system even further if it saves money? Essentially he's advocating not only making the DP permissible, but making it easier (cheaper) to execute. Pun intended. Again, since morality is a focus of this debate, Pro has to justify placing a monetary value on human life. This is a problem, however, considering Pro detailed how monetary value is not an appropriate standard for valuing human life in the last round.

Pro writes, "If a court determines that a person will always be a threat to the lives of people in society... death is the most secure form of lock-up... It really has no barring on the morals of it." Obviously the morality of taking a human being's life is going to be a factor in this debate. I'd also like Pro to explain how one can decidedly say that someone will ALWAYS be a threat. If he proposes instances of psychological illness (and many would argue that most killers are indeed mentally unstable), then he will have to justify killing someone for being sick. He repeatedly contends that the DP ought to be an option specifically "for individuals who cannot be rehabilitated," which leads me to assume that this is in fact what he's proposing. Otherwise, he would have no way of knowing that one could not be rehabilitated and/or realize the magnitude of their crime.

Pro continues to say that death is the only sure-fire method to eliminate a threat from society. Once again, if the likelihood of someone escaping a maximum security detention center is ridiculously low, this threat is too unrealistic for any serious consideration. Consider all of the potential threats in society that statistically FAR out-weigh someone escaping. We don't outlaw alcohol even though thousands of innocent people will be killed by drunk drivers this year. While it's important to consider threats, saying someone COULD be a threat is not a moral justification for killing them. After all, anyone could be a threat. Specifically, people who are not locked up are bigger threats than those who are.

Pro's next argument is, "By saying that LI should have a lower quality of justice, they are being denied justice altogether." I haven't said that one facing LI should have a lower standard of justice. What I did say was that because a death sentence is so final and morally questionable (I've argued that taking a life is the ultimate moral absolute as opposed to detention, which Pro has not disputed), that a more thorough process of appeals ought to be expected if not encouraged. This would mandate higher costs. In order for him to say cost is a primary factor to support the DP, he would have to simultaneously defend making it easier for the State to kill people by weakening the appeals/court process for those on death row.

Pro rightly points out that we should not say, "We're not going to execute you - only put you in prison for the rest of your life - so you get a less qualified lawyer and fewer appeals." In the last round I pointed out that if the DP was eliminated, then everyone facing LI would have an equal opportunity (and cost) for decent lawyers and appeals. Pro did not respond to this, though it dismantles his points regarding both the cost of the trial process, and fairness for defendants with similar crimes. The DP itself is responsible for this discrepancy.

Next Pro suggests that my wording indicates an accidental car crash could constitute as murder. I meant to say that the INTENTIONAL taking of an innocent life qualifies as murder. Nevertheless, Pro dodged the question that I asked, so I'll repeat it: If INTENTIONALLY taking an innocent life is the worst possible crime (thus warranting the DP), then do those who intentionally kill someone on death row who later turns out to be innocent also warrant the DP? If not, why so? It's important that Pro responds to this, as I will be using his answer to depict an inherent contradiction.

Pro explains "The reason for executing someone is... based upon the risks of someone committing future offenses." I've already explained why it's unreasonable to use this highly unlikely threat to justify state sanctioned murder. Moreover, I can use Pro's own logic against him. I could say the reason for NOT executing someone is based upon the potential for the State to kill an innocent person. Once again it would be contradictory and non-sensical to only care about one small potential for mistake (escape), and ignore the potential for another (killing an innocent person) as if one is somehow more dangerous than the other, while the latter guarantees taking an innocent life. Furthermore, I would argue that the possibility of the State - which has a monopoly on force - executing innocent people is a threat to society in and of itself.

Pro also provided some examples of who ought to receive the DP, such as OBL who he says had "almost no chance of ever being rehabilitated." I'm not sure we can say that OBL was definitely mentally ill. In that case, this proves that this is about vengeance rather than logic. Until a moral justification is provided, there is nothing for me to refute; I've contended that morality IS the basis of the law and subsequently the law's penalties.

Pro concludes by saying that I must prove rehabilitation/LI is completely safe, but this is absurd given his own introduction to this debate: "Of course, any justice system is going to be run by humans for the foreseeable future, and so subject to mistakes. This is regardless of what punishment method the system chooses for any individual case. However, it should be noted that the system is designed to "try its best."

Back to you :)
Debate Round No. 3
Ore_Ele

Pro

I thank my opponent for an interesting and highly enjoyable debate as we preceed to the final round.

I should clarify my position, law should not be made by an objective moral code, but it is made by the collective subjective moral code of its society (when in a democracy). If 51% of the population view that pot should be illegal, then it will be, when 51% of the population view that pot should be legal, the system will change.

"Is it ever morally right to kill a human being if you are not being immediately threatened?" I'll assume this is also applying to "innocent human being." While it is never morally "right" it is often morally "acceptable." If the term "innocent" is not actually meant here, then the answer is yes to both, pending the situation. There is no case where you "should" kill someone that you know is innocent. However, if you awake to someone in your house that you did not invite in, and you shoot and kill them, fearing they may be a buglar only to find out later that they are actually your neighbor using your phone to call the fire department because their house is on fire, they weren't threatening you and they were, for the most part, innocent. However, such a situation would not warrent the same as someone who had intentionally killed 7 women that he met on craiglist just for the jollies of watching life leave their eyes.

It is true that removing threats is what a justice system should be based on, ideally by "fixing" what caused the individual to commit a crime in the first place. However, simply showing that LI "will likely not escape," does not dismantle anything. "Will likely" is not a very strong argument. If I roll a die, I "will likely" roll a 3 or higher. Anything over 50% is "likely." Would a prison that has 35% of its population escape be considered an adequate prison? Technically it is likely that a given inmate would not escape, but it fails to meet the criteria of "the best we can do." Con has not and can not challenge that execution is 100% inescapable. Unless Con can show that LI is as accurate (100%), then LI, on the front of keeping people locked up, is not the best we can do.

There is also no possibility of exonerating someone that has passed away in prison after LI, that makes it no different than the DP. I will remind that in my opponent's round 1 source, it also pointed to several people that were falsely put in prison for life (and died there), LI is not exempt from making mistakes as the same legal system is used. For accuracy's sake there is a substainal time frame from the time of the trial to the actual execution, to allow for appeals, independent eyes to look at the case and evidence, as well as sperate judges to view it. However, that is related to the trial, not the punishment.

Being detained for life (no parole) is morally equivilent to the DP, as both have been deemed to be removed from society forever. Is there any difference from me locking someone in a box forever until they die or just killing them? Both have the exact same effect. The person is removed from society at t=X (the end of the trial) and they both stay completely removed from society until they die, just one dies faster and at a predicitable time.

Here, Con has misinterpreted my statement. If the outcome of X and Y are the same (person completely removed from society until they die), then we might as well do the cheaper and more effective of the two. Con has also misconstrued my arguments by saying, "he doesn't want those facing the DP to have access to more appeals since it can be more expensive." I said that those with equal crimes should receive equal judical effort. Just because a person with an identical crime is looking at life does not mean that they diserve a lower quality justice system with fewer appeals. This is the second time that Con has missed this point and that I've had to correct it.

Con continues to try to say that this is about morality. My argument is not, and has not been about morals, since there are no objective morals. If we go by society's morals (average morals of citizens) we get different results, pending which bias site does the survey [1][2]. But for all practicality, both LI and DP are locking someone away until they die, just one dies faster.

"he will have to justify killing someone for being sick." This is a fallacy. No one is being killed "for" being sick, they would be executed because of the crime that they commited, and the [lack of] potential of correcting their reasoning for doing so. Whether they are "sick" or not does come into the equation.

"if the likelihood of someone escaping a maximum security detention center is ridiculously low, this threat is too unrealistic for any serious consideration." One of the links in Con's second round was about 9 people that recently escaped from a high security prison [3]. Again, for "the best we can do," if option A is 99.9% and option B is 100%, A is not the best.

"We don't outlaw alcohol even though thousands of innocent people will be killed by drunk drivers this year." We do outlaw drunk driving because of the risk it has on other people.

" I haven't said that one facing LI should have a lower standard of justice. What I did say was... that [DP should have] a more thorough process of appeals" Saying that one should have a higher standard is the same as saying the other should have a lower standard. Both are for the same crime, both are the same punishment (locked up forever until death), so both should have the same thoroughness. However, since death comes faster to those on DP, they should have their appeals done quicker, while the LI has more time to stretch it out over.

"Do those who intentionally kill someone on death row who later turns out to be innocent also warrant the DP?" First, I'll say that not all that intentionally kill innocent life should be executed (if you go over my arguments, I never made such a claim). Second, like the homeowner that intentionally killed someone that they thought was guilty, but was innocent, should not be killed, neither should a judge that convicts someone. However, it would be acceptable and encouraged, that if someone was innocent, to look into why they were falsely convicted and if it was the result of any foul play. The same should apply to anyone that dies after LI and is found to be innocent, there is no difference between the two, as this relates to the justice system, not the punishment.

Since the potential for mistake (wrongful conviction) is present in both DP and LI, it cannot be considered against one or the other. While I have shown that escape has a greater risk under LI than DP, my opponent cannot show that DP has a greater risk of mistake than LI under my ideas, since both would have the same justice system, and the same amount of appeals.

"In that case, this proves that this is about vengeance rather than logic." Non Sequitur. OBL commited a crime and has no chance of rehab. Execution is the ideal way to ensure that he cannot repeat further crimes of such severity. It has nothing to do with vengeance. This would be clear, since I also mentioned SH, which there is no reason for me to want vengeance on him.

"Pro concludes by saying that I must prove rehabilitation/LI is completely safe, but this is absurd..." The DP is 100% effective. Con would have to show that rehab/LI is just as or more effective than the DP. The only way for that is if either is 100%.

I've shown that the DP is more effective than LI mathematically, and that both LI and DP have an equal chance of mistake through a justice system. This is not about morals, this is about which is logically better for society.

Thank you,

[1] http://www.capitalpunishmentincontext.org...
[2] http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
[3] http://abcnews.go.com...
Danielle

Con

I asked Pro whether it was ever morally right to intentionally kill someone if you are not being immediately threatened. He responded that it is never morally right though it can often be morally acceptable. This is contradictory. In his example, he talked about accidentally killing a potential burglar. However that is a case of a mistaken perceived immediate threat. With the DP, you know the person is not an immediate threat, so this example is not analogous. As such, we should stick to Pro's initial assertion that intentionally killing someone who is not an immediate threat is NEVER morally acceptable.

Pro has not provided one moral argument whatsoever validating the DP. He said that appealing to the majority of people ought to be what determines law, since morality is subjective. However a moral argument supporting this proposition is necessary or else we're just appealing to the majority which is fallacious. I'm sure if 51% of the population agreed that it should be legal to rape his newborn child, Pro would want further justification aside from the majority of people agreeing. I'm not arguing that morals aren't subjective, but that a moral justification for law is necessary. He hasn't provided one and even said he doesn't have to. This is clearly wrong for all the reasons I've outlined in the last round.

Second, I wrote "Pro says there may be times where the 'eye for an eye' system of justice ought to be applied. Obviously I'd like an expansion, such as when and why." Pro completely dropped this, which means it's a point in my favor. The audience should assume he cannot justify vengeance (payback) as justice in any case.

Next, I asked if we trusted the government to only kill bad people. Pro said, and I quote, that it's "not relevant." If Pro doesn't think that potential state sanctioned murder of innocent people is relevant, then one must wonder how this best effectively achieves his standard of justice: the quality of being fair and reasonable. I contend that this is not reasonable. Furthermore, I've said that given the State has a monopoly on force, that the State having the authority to legally put someone to death is a threat to society in and of itself. Pro never responded to this either.

Pro writes, "Being detained for life (no parole) is morally equivalent to the DP." First, I never advocated the potential for no parole. I'm the one who said Pro could not prove who could and could not be properly rehabilitated - another point which he did not respond to. Second, if Pro thinks that being detained is equivalent to death, then he has already defeated his own argument of why the DP ought to be preferred. In that case, his only other justification has been the 100% likelihood that someone could not escape death. However, I explained (a) exactly why it would be absurd to base our legal system around such a tiny probability; we don't in any other area -- and (b) that this is not only an impossible but completely unfair standard, since Pro does not provide 100% guarantee that innocent people won't be killed.

In my alcohol analogy, Pro responded "We do outlaw drunk driving because of the risk it has on other people." Drunk driving has proven to kill thousands of people a year [1], while Pro has failed to prove that escapees from maximum security prisons have killed anywhere near that many people. By his logic, alcohol should be criminalized because people MIGHT die from it. There is no 100% guarantee that they won't after all.

Pro writes, "Unless Con can show that LI is as accurate (100%), then LI... this is not the best we can do." Once again, if 100% accuracy is the criteria, then he has again defeated his own argument. Unless Pro can show that DP sentencing is 100% accurate, then the DP is not the best we can do by his own standards.

Pro argues that killing someone has the exact same effect as LI. Assuming Pro accepts the right of self-ownership (the reason why he would be worried about potential threats in the first place), why not have the inmate make that determination? If prison is really equivalent to murder, then surely many would commit suicide rather choose LI. I contend that this is their prerogative and should be a legal option, but it does not justify the DP.

While it's true that one could die during LI, this ignores (a) there was no state appointed individual to take a human being's life - period. And (b) the likelihood of exonerating someone is ZERO upon their death, though obviously possible if they're still alive. Pro consistently presents a contradictory standard. He wants us to worry about the statistically proven VERY small chance of a prisoner's escape, but not consider the chance of exonerating a jailed, innocent human being. While I cannot prove that there is a greater chance for mistake under the DP than LI, I can prove that you can attempt to rectify the falsely accused in one situation, but you can 100% NOT rectify it in another when the person is already dead.

Last year, Freddie Peacock became the 250th person to be exonerated for his crime thanks to DNA testing [2]. A false confession played a role in his initial conviction as it does in countless others. Again, it's completely non-sensical to only care about one small potential for mistake (escape), and ignore the potential for another (killing an innocent person) as if one is somehow more dangerous than the other, while the latter guarantees taking an innocent life while the former says someone MIGHT hurt again IF they escape. Pro did not respond to this.

Moreover, there could be greater benefit to society (the goal of our justice system) keeping someone jailed instead of dead. In addition to eliminating the negative effects of the DP that occurs to the victim's family, defendant's family and society overall (see: PDF I linked in R2 about families opposing the DP), one could have a positive impact on others even from behind bars. Others could contribute by performing various labor amongst other possibilities.

Pro continues, "For accuracy's sake there is a substantial time frame from the time of the trial to the actual execution, to allow for appeals..." This blatantly conflicts with his other arguments. He writes, "If the outcome of X and Y are the same (person completely removed from society until they die), then we might as well do the cheaper and more effective of the two." However by his own admission the current DP process is NOT cheaper so this doesn't make any sense. He specifically used cost as a reason to support the DP, but then advocates keeping the same process that makes the DP more expensive than LI... 70% more expensive (hundreds of millions), in fact [3]. Pro has defeated yet another one of his own arguments since LI is the cheaper option. He can repeat that he simply wants an equal trial process for those facing LI, but that can happen without the DP. Again he has completely ignored my contention that eliminating the DP means equal trial costs (as possible) for equal crimes.

Pro misuses the term fallacy when he says it's a fallacy that someone would be killed for being sick under his proposition. No, if someone is mentally ill, and kills BECAUSE they are mentally ill, then they are indeed being punished for what their involuntary sickness has caused (their crime). He glossed over this and never justified it. Pro also falsely accused me of a non-sequitur but I don't have enough characters to explain why.

Pro concludes, "OBL commited a crime and has no chance of rehab." Once again, Pro cannot prove that OSL (a) needs rehab, as he hasn't proven mentally ill, and (b) that Pro is the best psychological judge of whether or not that was the case even if he did need rehab. That's a true non-sequitur.

Pro failed to provide an adequate moral OR practical/logical reason to justify the DP.

SOURCES: http://www.debate.org...
Debate Round No. 4
42 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Solomon_Kane 5 years ago
Solomon_Kane
Great debate, and the subject matter is surely about as evocative it can get. I'd only add that neither party made sufficient reference to cultural and historical interpretation. The one-size-fits-all assumption of western liberal democracy, holds true only for populations defined therein. The weight of morality varies appreciably across the spectrum of political formats.

It may be that morality itself holds no validity as a stand-alone reference point, where orientation of perspective must include political context. In that light, there may be no morality to consider, where we accept that a process of so thoroughly divorcing it from an outcome (as occurred here), renders it so much less pressing a concern than some undefined requirement for political correctness.
Posted by rodimusprime 5 years ago
rodimusprime
The simplest argument against the death penalty is no innocent man should be killed for a crime they did not commit. That has happened and is murder.
Posted by innomen 5 years ago
innomen
cont'd. very effective in her argument, and had she taken the side of pro with the BOP and proving her resolution she would have won. I will admit that i didn't check out all the sources, but the volume and a cursory look goes to con.

On a side note, i'd like to know if more people have been killed by repeat offenders that have been released for whatever reason, or killed other prison inmates, than innocent people who were executed; there's a number you'll never see, but i imagine it's much higher on repeat offenders killing, and that would change the moral balance of the argument that con held.
Posted by innomen 5 years ago
innomen
I never have spent as much time going through a debate as i have with this one. I wish i didn't end up tieing because it seems like a waste of all that time.

Round 2 con was making a case against revenge, but i didn't really see that as a major component of pro's assertions. Also pro's stance seemed to be based on a societal impact, not a personal one, but con's refutation was based on the victim's family's impact and how they would want the DP or not. So although con waged a good argument it didn't seem to directly refute the specific argument that pro had produced. Not always of course, but overall the argument wasn't as direct in refuting pro's contention. I do agree with con that escape is so remote as a factor for execution, or as an argument it shouldn't have been brought up, and it provided a hole for con to use, and i think the whole Willie Horton avenue on release would have been more effective. In round 3 pro fell into the trap and began arguing against the new arguments that con had brought up bringing the argument over to personal versus societal, but did manage to pull it back. Con also asserts that pro needs to justify executing someone on the basis of "being sick". I think pro handled that well, but the argument was pretty much addressed in the area of threat earlier. In round 3 i will say that con was stronger than pro. The argument surrounding morality seemed a bit semantic to me. I understood what both sides were saying, but the argumentation seemed to get bogged down a bit in interpretation. Honestly it seemed overall that con was trying to take control of the argument rather than solely refuting the arguments before her. I get the tactic, and it's good as long as you are still killing the argument put forward by pro and i don't think that was done because of the subtle tangents taken. I'm leaning on the side of pro because i do believe he provided a logical argument defending his position. However, Con was very...
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
@Thaddeus, possibly, I need more to go on though, not enough spirit energy in your post.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
Danielle, I don't use the radio buttons to vote according to what they mean, I just use them to give the total I want.
Posted by Danielle 5 years ago
Danielle
Oh nvm, I see what you mean. Well his RFD is equally as pathetic as quarterexchange's. While he put absolutely no effort into it, at least he didn't make up blatant lies and exhibit absolutely zero reading comprehension as qe did. Oh well.
Posted by Danielle 5 years ago
Danielle
@ Baggins

"I notice you did not comment on Haasenfeffor's RFD!" --- I didn't read any comments from here except for OreEle's. I also don't see the difference in 3-0 vs. 5-2 but whatever floats your boat. However I think it's quite clear that I won the Sources point, and DEFINITELY s/g, but I don't really care.

@ OreEle

I responded to everything you said in the debate several times.
Posted by Thaddeus 5 years ago
Thaddeus
Cliff mate, I think you've been had.
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
@Danielle. Without the moral stand, whether the state kills an innocent person or puts an innocent person in jail until they die, there is no moral difference. Since LI has an equal chance of putting an innocent person away (in fact greater, because they get fewer appeals and lower quality of justice).

"There is also no possibility of exonerating someone that has passed away in prison after LI, that makes it no different than the DP. I will remind that in my opponent's round 1 source, it also pointed to several people that were falsely put in prison for life (and died there), LI is not exempt from making mistakes as the same legal system is used. For accuracy's sake there is a substainal time frame from the time of the trial to the actual execution, to allow for appeals, independent eyes to look at the case and evidence, as well as sperate judges to view it. However, that is related to the trial, not the punishment."

At no point was it ever explained how LI would have a lower chance of convicting an innocent person to their death (of old age) than DP.
8 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Vote Placed by FREEDO 5 years ago
FREEDO
Ore_EleDanielleTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Danielle did a great job pointing out inconsistencies in OreEle's position. OreELe also did a good job defending but not good enough. Great debate.
Vote Placed by quarterexchange 5 years ago
quarterexchange
Ore_EleDanielleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Consider this a counter to the hassenfeffor
Vote Placed by innomen 5 years ago
innomen
Ore_EleDanielleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD to be posted in comments, as they are too long for this format.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
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Reasons for voting decision: A couple of highlights - it would have been nice to see some specifics and Danielle hit hard on justification of the DP though an unquantified risk, and the morality part was not handled well by OreEle at all. Danielle also crushed on cost. Arguments in her favor 3:1 and sources as well, she quoted a number of specific and powerful points 2:1.
Vote Placed by BlackVoid 5 years ago
BlackVoid
Ore_EleDanielleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Comments. Pro did debate very well, but a couple big drops really hurt his advocacy. Good round.
Vote Placed by Haasenfeffor 5 years ago
Haasenfeffor
Ore_EleDanielleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: win
Vote Placed by Cody_Franklin 5 years ago
Cody_Franklin
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD coming in the comments.
Vote Placed by baggins 5 years ago
baggins
Ore_EleDanielleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: 5:2 to Con. Analysis in comments.