Every state should use the death penalty
Debate Rounds (4)
If you would like anymore clarifications put them in the comments section so we do not use up a round.
Now, as this is a discussion of expanding the death penalty, most of the harms I'm going to cite will be focused on harms of the death penalty as a whole, though I have some points that apply solely to this case.
1) It completely defies one of the most important reasons why we have a criminal justice system: rehabilitation.
It used to be important.
"Until the mid-1970s, rehabilitation was a key part of U.S. prison policy. Prisoners were encouraged to develop occupational skills and to resolve psychological problems--such as substance abuse or aggression--that might interfere with their reintegration into society. Indeed, many inmates received court sentences that mandated treatment for such problems."
But not anymore. Now, the justice system is encouraged to focus on the punitive aspects. Great, how's that working out?
"As a result, the United States now has more than 2 million people in prisons or jails--the equivalent of one in every 142 U.S. residents--and another four to five million people on probation or parole. A higher percentage of the population is involved in the criminal justice system in the United States than in any other developed country.
"Many inmates have serious mental illnesses. Starting in the late 1950s and 1960s, new psychotropic drugs and the community health movement dramatically reduced the number of people in state mental hospitals. But in the 1980s, many of the mentally ill who had left mental institutions in the previous two decades began entering the criminal justice system.
Today, somewhere between 15 and 20 percent of people in prison are mentally ill, according to U.S. Department of Justice estimates."
Great. So we're going to take this punitive system and make it even more punitive. Remember, that system has produced more criminals, a higher amount of resurgence of criminal activity from those who are on parole, and major mental issues. Not only does this suffice as a measure of cruel and unusual punishment, but it exacerbates criminal harms rather than reducing them.
2) The innocent will have no chance at redemption.
I think this is self-evident, but if someone who is convicted of a given crime is killed shortly thereafter, there is no opportunity for that verdict to be overturned. The average number of years between sentencing and exoneration is roughly 10 years, and new technologies have played a substantial role in this, with DNA evidence being used to establish the innocence of many. As technology advances, we are likely to discover more methods to determine the relative guilt or innocence of an individual.
Wrongful executions do happen, and since 1973, 143 such individuals have been documented in the U.S. From 2000-2007, an average of 5 exonerations have occurred every year. Now, someone might ask, why should we care more about these people? It's because we as a nation have long since decided that this is all important. We have the presumption of innocence in this country, "innocent until proven guilty," for a good reason. It's in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and it follows from the 5th, 6th, and 14th amendments. What's more, it has been supported by two Supreme Court cases: Coffin v. United States and In re Winship.
3) Cruel and unusual punishment.
This is relatively straightforward as well. There are multiple concerns here. On a very basic level, most of the execution methods are currently allowable in the U.S. While many of them are out of style, electrocution, the use of a firing squad, hanging, and lethal gas remain legal in several states. Since these states will have more people on death row, they will also be more likely to engage in these practices. For each of these, death is not at all certain, while pain and injury are more likely. Each is a form of excruciating torture that may require multiple tries to be effective.
As for lethal injection, the most commonly used form of the death penalty, there's a lot of uncertainty here as well. It's not actually painless, resulting instead in a form of anesthesia awareness where the victim is forced to consciously endure a terrible death while completely paralyzed. They will endure suffocation due to the paralytic effects of pancuronium bromide and the intense burning effects of potassium chloride.
4) Unfair, unjust system.
Among the factors involved in determining a person's likelihood to receive the death penalty, one of the most important is their representation. Almost all of the people on trial for these crimes cannot afford their own attorney, and the ones they get appointed to them are overworked, underpaid, or lacking in experience. One in four condemned inmates has been represented by court-appointed attorneys who have been disciplined for professional misconduct. Stories of these attorneys arriving drunk or sleeping through parts of the trial, or even sabotaging a case, regularly surface. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said it best:
"People who are well represented at trial do not get the death penalty... I have yet to see a death case among the dozens coming to the Supreme Court on eve-of-execution stay application in which the defendant was well represented at trial."
5) Justice vs. vengeance.
The death penalty is nothing but a system of institutionalized vengeance. It utilizes emotional impulse to decide the appropriate punishment, essentially doling out the pain of the victims' family as though it were justice. It is not. The notion of an eye for an eye, or a life for a life, is a simplistic one which our society should not endorse. We do not torture rape victims. We do not chop of the hands of thieves. It benefits us not at all to utilize the death penalty to punish those we deem as harmful to society.
And remember, not everyone on who gets life imprisonment gets there because of some violent crime, so this isn't even all retributive. People who receive that sentence due to the three-strikes law or treason won't get any special treatment here. They'll receive the same vengeance.
6) Court clog and cost.
This is, perhaps, the most important part of my argument. Why are people put on death row vs. life imprisonment? In a lot of cases, it's left up to whether or not they confess. They do this specifically to avoid receiving a death sentence.
Not one of these people is going to confess to their crimes. If they are guaranteed to receive the death penalty no matter their choice, they will decide to fight it in court for as long as possible. This is a big problem, and the reason why is the same reason why the death penalty costs so much - appeals. The death penalty is much more expensive than life in prison because of a combination of trial costs and appeals. The cost of the death penalty in California alone amounts to some $4 billion since 1978 because of these, and ending it would result in "immediate savings of $170 million per year, with a savings of $5 billion over the next 20 years." Courts will have to cover these cases, at the expense of time spent on other crimes and important issues.
But that's chump change compared to the other major cost. The families will have to endure this elongated procedure. They will often have to appear and reappear in court. The mental trauma will be stretched out for years.
The death penalty is the ultimate punishment reserved for the worst society has to deal with such as serial killers, rapists, and crimes similar to that degree. Whether these people can be rehabilitated is irrelevant after they have committed such atrocious crimes because they have taken the life of others intentionally and maliciously. They can never be trusted to have their freedoms again as they will always pose a threat to society. Now for example someone sentenced to 15 years in prison for assault and battery not resulting in death will not be eligible for the death penalty as they are within the possibility of rehabilitation and can likely turn their behavior around.
Inmates that have a mental illness do indeed need rehabilitation but within reason. For example, John Holmes intentionally murdered innocent strangers in a movie theater and it was determined that he was indeed suffering from a mental illness but that was also determined that was no excuse for what he did. When someone commits an act like he did rehabilitation should not be an option.
2. The innocent will have no chance at redemption.
This is the only downside in utilizing the death penalty on the scale I propose but as my opponent has stated the advance in technology is accelerating so there will be far fewer people being wrongly sentenced. The percentage of wrongful convictions will continue to drop. "innocent until proven guilty" is very debatable seeing as how people are arrested before they are convicted. "Guilty until proven innocent" is a far more accurate description of how our justice system works but the amendments my opponent has stated have nothing to do with a person convicted of a crime facing life in prison.
3. Cruel and unusual punishment
I will not argue that current methods of execution are not ideal nor the most humane but let us not forget that this is about punishing those that have committed the most heinous crimes in our society. We at least make the attempt to euthanize them in the most humane way we can. Our military takes action that can sometimes result in collateral loss of life and yet it is still deemed legal because the ends justify the means. Collateral loss of life means that innocent people were lost in advertently but the method's continue to be used because it is the best we can do while still accomplish our objectives. Our objective in society is to ensure that people who would commit the worst crimes can not threaten people again.
4. Unfair, unjust system
"determining a person's likelihood to receive the death penalty" Remember that my plan would be an expansion of the death penalty to those that would also be sentenced to life in prison.
 This is a problem that should be addressed and there should be more severe consequences for attorneys appointed by the courts who have had these disciplinary problems but we cannot let the attorneys actions dictate the life of a prisoner convicted to life or death. We should take every measure possible to ensure that attorneys always behave in the most professional manor possible but the fact of the matter is the attorney's misconduct is not the biggest problem facing our legal system or the American taxpayers.
 Arriving drunk would result in the attorney being held in contempt of court. Sleeping or sabotage does not seem to feasible because an attorney's reputation (number of cases they've won and lost) is crucial to them because a high rate of winning cases helps them attain more clients.
 Judging by the demeanor of the judges statement it would seem that she is against the death penalty in the first place and that is her opinion but she does have a valid point. Those that can afford prestigious attorneys (such as O.J. did) can literally get away with murder. It is a critical flaw in the legal system and has become quite infamous. Time and time again people have been proven guilty but for one minor technical detail the suspect get's off scott free thus allowing them to commit more crimes such as a rapist. Those with enough money can become nearly untouchable in regards of the law.
5. Justice vs vengeance.
The death penalty used today is not a form of vengeance it is determining that the prisoner has committed crimes too heinous to society. My opponent has provided no justification to allow these criminals to continue living at our expense. These people have decided to give up their freedoms when they committed their crimes. No one forces a rapist to do the things they do. No one can justify why we should have to spend billions of dollars a year of our taxes to keep these prisoners alive. The majority of prisoners put to death were convicted of murder, they took the life of another person.
It is incredibly simple, if a criminal doesn't want to loose their life they shouldn't commit the crime. Often times the people that are opposed to death penalty seem to forget that these people are not being forced to commit these crimes. The possible consequences of these crimes are not secrets. If someone takes the life of another they are well aware that they could face the death penalty but choose to commit the crime anyway.
6. Court clog and cost
As I stated earlier the average cost of keeping a prisoner incarcerated every year is $30,000 and if you multiply that times 50,000 you get $1,500,000,000. That's just for 2012 and that vastly shadows 4 billion since 1978. That calculation was not even the entire number of people serving life sentences it was only those without the possibility of parole. 4,770,000,000 is what you get when you multiply 30,000 ( cost for one inmate every year ) and 159,000 (number of inmates serving life). That is more than the total cost of the death penalty for California for the last 36 years.
"One of every nine individuals in prison is serving a life sentence.
"More than 159,000 people were serving life sentences in 2012, and 50,000 of those are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole.
"Florida, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, California, and Michigan account for 57.7% of all life without parole sentences nationwide.
"Of those sentenced to life in prison, 64.3% were convicted of homicide
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com...
My opponent speaks of the mental trauma caused by lengthy court proceedings but surely it would be more traumatic for the person who murdered a family member to get off scot free and for some people simply knowing that the person that killed their loved ones is going to live a full life is enough to cause them mental distress.
I have two main responses to your points about rehabilitation being unnecessary for this group. For one, you do realize that there's a difference between a conviction that leads to life imprisonment and "life without parole," right? Many people who are given the maximum sentence get what's called an "indeterminate life sentence," which means they can go on parole after a decade or more. I'd say this isn't made clear by Pro's distinction, and that at least some of these cases are likely to receive the death penalty. Those people can still enter back into the world. Second, rehabilitation doesn't just involve them. A system that focuses mainly on doling out the death penalty to these offenders affect others as well. Look at my  in the previous round, as I think it explains well how this measure of "justice" increases the problems of criminality and mental illness. These aren't just among those who get life sentences. Pro admits that these people need help, but would arbitrarily decide what makes one eligible based on how bad he feels the crime was. Someone who is mentally deranged often has no control over their actions, and we don't usually hold the mentally deranged directly responsible for their actions.
I did provide some info on California and the cost of the death penalty in my last post. For more detailed analysis on a state-by-state level, there's many good websites. My opponent talks about tens of thousands, ignoring the millions spent per inmate in Texas. Costs of the death penalty are far higher, and if Pro would like to dispute that, he has to respond to these links directly.
Pro says that "the death penalty is the ultimate punishment reserved for the worst society has to deal with such as serial killers, rapists, and crimes similar to that degree." That's interesting (and wrong, rapists aren't usually sentenced to life imprisonment). I mentioned the three-strikes law in California, where no such crime is committed. I also mentioned treason, which also is not always equitable to killers and rapists. He provides no response to these points. And since Pro states later that "the majority of prisoners put to death were convicted of murder," the majority of people doing the maximum harms that he states don't require Pro's plan to be removed from society by death, though I'd argue that life imprisonment is just as effective.
These arguments about not being trusted to have freedoms are all vengeful. Pro provides no reason benefit to society for denying them access.
2. The innocent
I love how this works. So it's fine to sentence a bunch of innocent people to death because, at some point in the future, innocent people will be less likely to be sentenced to death? Every single one of these deaths count, and to a very large extent. The fact that my opponent is essentially dismissing their loss is nothing short of cruel.
Pro says that we function under a system of "guilty until proven innocent." He doesn't support this " I see no citations, and no warrants. I've given several. But even if that is the case, it doesn't prove that that's the system we should be functioning under. Again, look back at my links, I gave plenty of analysis as to why "innocent until proven guilty" is extremely important.
3. Cruel and unusual punishment
Pro practically concedes this argument by saying he's not going to argue whether any method of imposing the death penalty is humane. So long as he doesn't, this is engaging in torture, plain and simple. He provides no analysis as to why ending their lives is more effective than life imprisonment.
4. Unfair, unjust system
Great, so we should address this problem, but in the meantime, let's throw more people into the system to ensure that many more innocent people die without a fair trial. I agree that we should fix the system, but that's not part of your plan, and even if it was (I have no idea how this would be implemented), that will take years if not decades. After they're done with their appeals, these people won't get another chance, and their lives will be forfeit. These lives shouldn't be riding on a system that's not well-enforced. Yes, we have contempt of court, but it's obviously not enough to prevent such a widespread problem. Remember, one in four condemned inmates have been represented by a court-appointed attorney who has been disciplined for professional misconduct. All that this system has done is point out the troublemakers, not remove them. You can call it "unfeasible," but my links prove that it happens all the time.
But Pro practically spends this entire time conceding the point. "Those with enough money can become nearly untouchable in regards of the law." He's admitting that the death penalty is inherently classist. So long as that is true, it is the antithesis of justice.
5. Justice vs. vengeance
Pro is essentially non-responsive to my points here. So long as my third contention has bearing, it is vengeance on that basis alone. Killing them for engaging in something we as a society loathe is also vengeance. Institutionalized torture and murder are vengeful, as it is aimed solely at causing harm to a person who harmed others. He provides no justification for the utilization of "an eye for an eye," and no reason why it should be applied here, but not elsewhere, as with the chopping off of thieves hands.
As long as the expense of the death penalty remains far higher than the cost of life imprisonment, the reverse of Pro's statement is much more applicable: "my opponent has provided no justification to press these criminals into our capitol punishment system at our expense." The expense exists no matter the choice, it's just much higher in Pro's world.
"If someone takes the life of another they are well aware that they could face the death penalty but choose to commit the crime anyway."
I thought we might actually have an argument over this, but I'm glad to see that my opponent agrees with me: the threat of punishment doesn't prevent the crime. Now, Pro has absolutely no benefit to the death penalty.
6. Court clog and cost
Pro doesn't address court clog at all, completely ignoring the fact that justices, policemen (as witnesses), and other staff will be extremely limited in their time to address other cases. That means fewer police on the streets and more delays on court cases (where people are forced to sit in jail for longer periods of time at higher cost without any establishment of guilt).
His responses to cost are just restatements of his previous arguments with him doing some interesting calculations. Remember, my links showcase how any given person on death row can cost the state over $2 million. Now imagine if 50,000 people average even one-tenth that amount. We're talking about tens of billions of dollars. Take his larger number of 159,000, and it becomes astronomical.
The last point Pro makes in response to my point about mental trauma is absolutely confounding. To state that a person getting life imprisonment is getting off "scot free" is beyond absurd. I don't think being forced to live out the rest of your life beyond bars is a ticket to freedom, and I don't see how this causes families mental distress. The reality is that families will have to sit through trial after trial, waiting with uncertainty at each step to see justice done. That's the problem. And it gets worse. It diverts millions away from critical services to homicide survivors. It splits families apart, and ruins relationships when they're most necessary.
With that, I kick it back to Pro.
I distinguished the number of those in prison for "life" with and without parole but I do not believe that the possibility of parole should exclude them from the death penalty. If they were sentenced to life no matter what form that may be the death penalty should be used and if said crimes are not serious enough to warrant the death penalty they would obviously be convicted otherwise.
Negative your previous  failed to prove that this measure of justice would increase the problems of criminality and mental illness. By my opponents phrasing it would seem he believes that by using the death penalty as I have proposed it would make criminals and any illness they have worse but has not elaborated as the statement should be.
Not how bad I feel the crime was, how bad the justice system feels the crime was as they are the ones who sentence people not I.
True the mentally deranged do not behave like ordinary people would but does my opponent suggest that they should not be punished like the rest of society would be. The problem with mental illnesses is that "temporary insanity" is considered a form of temporary mental illness and is often times the key to a criminals freedom. It is all too easy to claim temporary insanity given a stressful situation. We have seen countless trials where someone has used this tactic and received next to no punishment. This is clearly a critical flaw of the justice system that is virulently used to the benefit of criminals.
John Holmes the Aurora movie theater shooter was deemed mentally ill so does that mean that we should simply rehabilitate him and after the experts deem him to be "fit for society" send him back into the world? Could this man be trusted after committing such an atrocious crime?
Life in prison is used for rapists (see the link)
My opponent seems to be unclear on the position I take: If someone is sentenced to life whether the possibility of parole be available or not, they should be put to death regardless of what type of crime they have committed. I do not differentiate between their crimes.
Another critical problem my opponent seems to be unaware of is that the majority of prisoners released from prison are repeat offenders. This is a massive cost to the court systems as repeat offenders often require a court appointed attorney and this takes a vast amount of time and resources simply to deal with people that have already been released once.
Among 300,000 prisoners that were released in 15 states, 67.5% were rearrested within 3 years. 46.9% were reconvicted, and 25.4% were even convicted of a new crime. So not only are they going back to their old ways but they often times commit an entirely new crime for the courts to deal with. This ties directly into court cost and clog.
2. The innocent
I made no such claim to dismiss their loss I merely stated the obvious, we cannot be soft on everyone simply to save a few. Our own military utilizes this same tactic, they send in soldiers knowing full well there will be casualties but it is determined that the ends justify the sacrifice. It may sound cruel but the courts have already taken such measures but I do not believe they are effective enough given the enormous number of repeat offenders.
"guilty until proven innocent" This is clear cut common sense, if a person were innocent until proven guilty they would not be arrested. For example: A police officer issues someone a ticket for whatever reason presuming they are guilty. They do not arrest them but they offer that they may take the issue to court to prove their innocence.
The movie "The minority report" starring Tom Cruise is a prime example of this concept.
In the movie people are arrested for crimes they have not yet committed meaning they are technically still innocent but it is presumed they are going to be guilty.
If you are being charged in a murder you are presumed "innocent" until proven guilty...So why arrest you? If you are presumed innocent you would be issued a date to go to court upon their own accord and if they did not show for court they would then be arrested. There are times when a person is not arrested but must still show up in court. Does it really make sense to say "your innocent but your still getting arrested" No it does not but what does make sense is "your believed to be guilty so your being arrested"
3. Cruel and unusual punishment
I stated we seek to use the most humane methods possible.
: the act of causing severe physical pain as a form of punishment or as a way to force someone to do or say something
noun: death penalty; plural noun: death penalties
the punishment of execution, administered to someone legally convicted of a capital crime.
Take not of the "force someone to do or say something". My opponent has misused the word torture as it does not pertain to the death penalty. Torture is meant to be drawn out over time to attain something such as information, it is not meant to kill quickly as the death penalty is.
I would suggest my opponent read previous rounds as I have clearly shown why ending their lives is more effective.
4. Unfair, unjust system
As I have stated earlier 67.5% of prisoners released were repeat offenders, that means the majority of prisoners released were rearrested. These are people that were found guilty, did their time, and then chose to commit even more crimes so how can that be considered unfair? They had their chance and then another and messed them both up.
Remember even someone that is guilty can go for an appeal not just the innocent.
It seems my opponent is not concerned that the majority of prisoners prove their own guilt by being a repeat offender, he contends that this fact should be have no bearing on the way justice works. He has simply tried to find fault with my plan while offering no other option other than rehabilitation but the problem is many prison systems have councilors to help with rehabilitation and yet the repeat offender percentage is at 67.5%. Obviously rehabilitation is not the solution.
My opponent complains that the system is unfair but has offered no solution to solve this problem either.
5. Justice vs vengeance
My opponent would call the death penalty "vengeance" but this is simply an emotional based opinion not seeing that this plan goes beyond emotions to efficiency. All emotions aside it has been proven that keeping them alive is far more costly but you say the opposite is true because of appeals. The problem with this assertion is that the number of appeals granted is very rare. The number of appeals that get denied is substantial. This means that the number of people that were exonerated is very low.
"Appeals Rarely Successful
Very few criminal trial appeals are successful. That's why when a criminal appeal is granted, it makes headlines in the media because it is rare. In order for a conviction or a sentence to be overturned, the appeals court not only must find that an error occurred, but also that the error was clear and serious enough to affect the outcome of the trial."
I have provided the statistics and the math to show that the death penalty is by far a more effective solution. Perhaps con is looking at the expense of one inmate per year not the billions they all cost for one year. Now multiply that times the number of years they live out in prison. As the math has shown life in prison is far more expensive.
"Pro has absolutely no benefit to the death penalty." Interesting statement, lets examine it with a series of simple questions anyone can answer.
1. If a killer is put to death does he have the ability to kill anymore innocents?
Apologies but im out of characters I will finish 5 and 6 in the next roung
Since we have had an equal number of rounds already for argumentation and rebuttal, I will engage in neither in this final round, and simply summarize the round and conclude how I think voters should see it.
At the end of the day, the conversation is about whether or not the death penalty does more good than harm. If I've proven to you that, on balance, it leans more towards harm, then you should vote for me. If my opponent has made better arguments about its benefits or has negated my harms sufficiently, you should vote for him.
So what do you have to work with on this level? Pro gives very little in the way of benefits here, stating that they will cause harm should they return to the general public. Of course, this only applies to the subset of people who would be receiving life imprisonment with the possibility of parole, but that's the best benefit he provides.
Against that, what do you have from me? You have this group of people that could otherwise be rehabilitated. You have reduced mental health concerns that result from an overly punitive system. You have innocent people losing their lives, when our judicial system clearly favors "innocent until proven guilty." You have the cruelty resultant from people suffering from lethal injections, unable to move as intense pain and searing heat course through their bodies. You have a system where only the poor are ever going to be convicted, often without just cause because of inept defense attorneys. You have a system of vengeance that is retributive to some and vengeful to others. And you have major cost increases and intense court clog, forcing policemen and justices off of other cases in order to manage these.
If you feel that these harms are significant enough to counteract Pro's one benefit, then vote Con.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Wylted 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Cons arguments were well cited. Pro's only sparingly so sources go to con. Pro offered almost no arguments and only rebuttals. Seeing as how pro has the BOP, he needs to offers some type of argument. I will not award points for conduct but I thought it was in poor taste for pro not to make an opening argument in round 2. There were no extremely noticeable errors in spelling or grammar.
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