The Instigator
Bullish
Pro (for)
Winning
10 Points
The Contender
SeventhProfessor
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Intemediate's Debate Competition R2: The Death Penalty Should Be Legal.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Bullish
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/25/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,732 times Debate No: 44591
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (10)
Votes (2)

 

Bullish

Pro

This debate is part of the Second Official DDO Tournament, hosted by TUF.

http://www.debate.org...

And part of Round 2 of the Intermediate Tier of the tournament.

http://www.debate.org...


Please not that I, as Pro, am playing devil's advocate. I believe that that there are always better alternatives to a death penalty. GL; HF.


==========

Topic:

The Death Penalty Should Be Legal.


Definitions:

Death Penalty A sentence of punishment by execution [1].

Legal – Sanctioned by the law. Putting up a reasonable amount of regulation still counts as legal.


Context:

This debate is about captial punishment in the United States. The reason for this is that in other countries, the legal and prison systems can vary widely, and captial punishment is heavy contingent on legal and prison systems.

U.S. law is based on maxium punishment, so no judge is forced to give the death penalty. U.S. federal law also only permits the death sentence in cases of murders for the mentally competent [2]. I am arguing that capital punishment should not be banned by the U.S. Federal Government (states can ban it freely if they wish), and only be legal under some circumstances, not all.

BoP shared.


Rules:

R1: Acceptance.

R2: Arguments.

R3: Rebuttals.

R4: Rebuttals.


==========


[1] http://www.thefreedictionary.com...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...

SeventhProfessor

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
Bullish

Pro

I would like to say again that I am playing devil’s advocate; I believe there are always better alternatives to the death penalty in developed worlds. I will refer to the death penalty as DP, capital punishment as CP, and life sentence as LS, and life without parole as LWOP, for ease of typing.

I only started this argument on Tuesday morning, so it’s going to be relatively brief.


==========


I. CP restores an overall sense of justice.

The system of justice is meant to deter criminals, restore society as is after the fact, and punish those who committed these crimes. Punishment is essential to a justice system, because without it, justice would be meaningless – people who commit crimes would merely be removed from society, without so much as a slap on the wrist. Imagine a child who stole candy; removing the child from the candy is only a temporary, short term solution, since he would only try again and again to get to the candy, and it would make access to candy more difficult for law abiding kids; inflicting a punishment such as a spanking will teach him to not steal again. Disregarding the opportunity costs, inflicting a permanent punishment is even more effective.

The one thing that humans are hard wired to fear most is death [1]. That’s why the death penalty is often among the harshest punishments a society can inflict. In cases of murder, capital punishment makes even more sense, because in committing a crime, the criminal has voluntarily given up his own right to what he took away. We take money away from people who stole money, why not take life away from people to take lives? Fair contracts, including social ones, are based on a system of proportional retribution.

While only 60% of U.S. citizens support the DP in theory [2], this number fluctuates as people are made aware of the type of crimes committed by the criminals who are eligible for the DP. 70% support the use of DP on the Boston Bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev [3]. As a victim, legalizing the DP brings closure, the least a system of justice can give back to the victims.


II. CP deters would-be criminals.

People respond to incentives [4]. It’s a simple psychological law. If a rational person knew of the potential consequences of his actions, he would be much more likely to be influenced when making a decision. Death is, not “one of,” but THE single strongest personal negative incentive to most rational humans, therefore naturally it would also be the best deterrent.

According to Naci Mocan, a professor at the University of Colorado at Denver, DP has a detering effect: “the conclusion is there is a deterrent effect.” [5] According to a study supported by Mocan, for every execution, about 3 to 18 homicides are deterred. Give that there were 1359 criminals executed in the past 38 years [6], that’s about 4000-24000 potentially saved. This may not seem like a big difference to the over 700 000 thousand homicides [7] in the same time frame, but it’s still a significant number.

In addition, 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested again for homicide within 3 years [8]. This would never happen if the DP was inflicted.


III. DP grants bargaining power to prosecuting attorneys.

Over 90% of legal cases in the U.S. are done by plea deals [9]. Plea deals become worthless if the prosecutor has no leverage. Say if capital punishment was banned, then a persecutor will have to juggle LS with LWOP, instead of LWOP and the DP. Given the statistics for recidivism of at least 1.2% for murderers, this wouldn’t be a good deal. Given that people now know they will more likely live even if they committed crimes like rape, torture, and murder, they will have less of an incentive to not commit the crime.

The DP makes criminals and their lawyers more likely to accept plea deals, therefore reducing the cost of potential trials without compromising the severity of the punishment.

There is also no reason to not use the death penalty on people who have committed heinous crimes. A death penalty is like any other punishment, in that it has its punitive values. Banning a set of punishments for what it is is pointless, especially if it is effective.


==========


[1] http://phobias.about.com...

[2] http://www.gallup.com...

[3] http://www.washingtonpost.com...

[4] http://www.nber.org...

[5] http://www.washingtonpost.com...

[6] http://www.clarkprosecutor.org...

[7] http://www.disastercenter.com...

[8] http://www.bjs.gov...

[9] http://en.wikipedia.org...

SeventhProfessor

Con

I. It costs too much time and money
The death penalty, on average, takes six times longer in court than LWOP cases [1]. so the DP is already six times more expensive than LWOP in court costs alone, let alone the cost of potentially innocent lives. Instead of six times longer and costing much, much more, why not make the sentence LWOP? This way, the same costs are being spent as usual in the prison, but instead of spending six times longer to see if the person is innocent, you get an entire lifetime to ensure they are actually guilty.

II. Religion
Te U.S. is a secular nation, with a Christian majority. Some Christians believe in hell, while some just believe in heaven. I will show why the DP is wrong from these three viewpoints.
a. Secular- The government is ending the person. Taking away their right to think, breathe, and destroying the lives of their families, who will never see them again. Clearly LWOP isn't as unnecessarily cruel, and allows for corrected mistakes, unlike the DP.
b. Christian with hell- Hell is, and most likely, always will be, unjust punishment to ever exist. Infinite amount of pain or suffering because of anywhere from cheating on your wife to committing the Holocaust. Eternal punishment is way too far, and that is what you are sentencing someone to if you believe in hell and they get the DP. You, essentially, are torturing that person for all of eternity.
c. Christian without hell- This group, for the most part, believes everyone goes to heaven. If they truly believe this, then they are sending a criminal awful enough for the DP to eternal happiness. Again, no justice whatsoever. The thought that this awful human should not only be free, but rewarded for his crimes, is nothing short f shocking. The DP dertainly does not make any sense from this viewpoint.

1. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Bullish

Pro

This round will consist of me thanking my opponent for his time and me giving rebuttals. I thank my opponent for his time.


==========


“It costs too much time and money”

That is the nature of how the U.S. government and court system works. A criminal is required to be given an at least competent lawyer, there needs to be a prosecutor, and lawyers cost money. The DP requires more money to pay lawyers and time in the court because it’s a serious sentence prefaced by a serious crime. Dropping a serious punishment for a serious crime because it costs too much is nothing but laziness. The very reason we’re devoting so much money into the justice system is to create an environment where law-abiding citizens can contribute to society in peace. Imagine a world where there are no prosecutors; sure, there’s no more cost, but with no deterrence, crime will be rampant. Reducing the punishment has the same affect.

Not only that, but dropping the highest level of punishment will not have a proportional impact on court costs. If the DP were dropped, the “controversy” would be over LWOP; if LWOP were dropped again because of few criminal sympathizers, regular LS will become the new “controversy.” It’s a real slippery slope.

Also, as I mentioned before, harsher punishments give prosecutors bargaining power. Guilty criminals will be more likely to confess if they know that they are going to be prosecuted for a harsher sentence.


“Cost of potentially innocent lives”

The DP requires a very high level of certainty; gripping over unattainable nirvana is useless and only wastes time; the lives of the innocent victims are worth far more than the criminals’. And nothing says LWOP doesn’t have innocent lives either. Valuing life over life sentence is arbitrary. It is a lazy way that people use to calm their irrational emotional appeal to being alive as opposed to being alive without freedom.


“The government is ending the person”

With due process, yes. When a person put in jail, he is also deprived of his right to liberty. Nothing makes one deprivation unallowable but the other allowable. They are both allowable when due process is done.


“Christian with hell”

Hell doesn’t exist.


“[LS] Allows for corrected mistakes”

This is assuming that there was a mistake, which isn’t likely at all. Also, Jail time does not allow for correction of mistakes. If you went to jail, you went to jail. There is no earning back that time. In fact, many die in jail before they can be cleared.


“Christian without hell”

Heaven doesn’t exist either.

The only reason punishment is necessary is for deference of future offenders. It is only the perception that matters, not the delivery. I can tell you that even the many Christians who “know” they’re going to heaven don’t want to die, because dying is an instinct that we inherently fear above all else.


==========


NS

SeventhProfessor

Con

I. CP restores an overall sense of justice.

You compare the situation to removing a naughty kid from a candy store. This comparison does not make any sense. It would be like banning the kid from that candy store and every other candy store, never allowed in any ever again. As you said, a permanent punishment is best, but a less expensive permanent punishment that's reversible if necessary is even better. We do take away money from people that steal money but we don't take all of it. LWOP allows for a life to continue, but not be as final and cruel. There can be exceptions for particularly evil crimes, such as 9/11, as I'm sure all would agree, but it seems too cruel for one murder.

II. CP deters would-be criminals.

If they fully understood the life they were losing with LWOP, it could deter them equally, if not more. The majority of prisoners are religious, and are more likely to accept death but find LWOP as a real punishment.

III. DP grants bargaining power to prosecuting attorneys.

1.2% is a small number, and why not give the 98.8% a second chance instead of killing them for what 1.2% may do? Again, DP may give a heavier incentive now, but LWOP could easily have that effect as well.

"It costs too much time and money"

Yes, the penalty is serious and requires a lot of money, but this money could be better spent on persecuting other murderers that are free due to lack of evidence, and all it would take would be reducing the penalty to LWOP. Your second argument is a slippery slope fallacy. It might not have been had you provided evidence that the situation would happen, but you did not in any way.

"Cost of potentially innocent lives"

Would you be willing to die so that 1000 criminals could also die, while only twelve of them are likely to commit a crime again? Well, if there's any chance a criminal would repeat the crime, sentence them to LWOP. If a criminal has learned what he/she did was wrong, 10-20 years should work. Again, one innocent life would be the cost 12 guilty and likely repeat offender lives, as opposed to 10 years of a life for 12 life sentences. Surely the latter is much more reasonable.

"The government is ending the person"

But the government is not taking away the right to talk, or think, or feel. That's what they're doing with the DP, and is far much worse than anything else they could do.

"Christian with hell/heaven"

While I agree that they don't exist, the majority of the US thinks they do, and the resolution is "The Death Penalty Should Be Legal". If the majority of citizens believe the DP is either unnecessarily cruel or not punishment at all, than the DP should not be legal in that state.

"[LS] Allows for corrected mistakes"

You can still be released from prison, and mistakes can much more easily be corrected than DP, as there is no continuing life freely at all.
Debate Round No. 3
Bullish

Pro

Rebuttal and closing statements.


==========


“LWOP allows for a life to continue, but not be as final and cruel.”

You yourself agreed that the permanence of a punishment is desirable: “As you said, a permanent punishment is best…” The finality and “cruelty” of the DP is what we need the death penalty for – deterrence.

You say it is illogical to ban a candy stealing child from all the stores, then how is it logical to put a thief in jail, effectively banning him from everything?

Expenses can be made in the name of justice, because it is justice that keeps a safe environment for the rest of us who abide laws to make contributions to society. Simply keeping the criminal confined is not useful, as no one would have the negative incentive to not commit a crime. As I have explained, the DP both deters would-be criminals, and those who might relapse into recidivism.


“If they fully understood the life they were losing with LWOP, it could deter them equally.”

That’s not true. As explained in my source [1], humans fear death much more than a lack of freedom. Certainly, those among us who see life lightly would probably prefer a DP over a LWOP, but the rational humans are unlikely to commit crimes deserving of death anyway. Truth is, most of the human race depends on emotion and primal instincts when making decisions. Threats of DP do deter people.

The zealous fanatics fear neither death, nor any other punishment because they are irrational. If the DP doesn’t work, then few things would work. You said that “There can be exceptions for particularly evil crimes, such as 9/11,” yet you contradict yourself since 9/11 is a crime committed by fanatics.


“1.2% is a small number, and why not give the 98.8% a second chance instead of killing them”

I never said to sentence all the murderers who will be paroled to death. I’m citing that as a statistic for why heavy sentences should be inflicted.


“this money could be better spent on persecuting other murderers that are free due to lack of evidence”

This is essentially a rephrase of “it costs too much money,” except this time in conjunction with a seemingly significant opportunity cost; perhaps the money can be used for African relief funds? I’ve mentioned before, we can spare the expenses because spending that money on convicting criminals who deserve the DP is more than just killing someone; it contributes to stability, deters would-be criminals, and the bargaining leverage of the DP saves time for law enforcement.


“one innocent life would be the cost 12 guilty and likely repeat offender lives, as opposed to 10 years of a life for 12 life sentences”

I do not understand this. But my points are: wrongful convictions are extremely rare; I’m not advocating for sentencing all the LWP people to death.


“If the majority of citizens believe the DP is either unnecessarily cruel or not punishment at all, than the DP should not be legal in that state.”

The majority do believe the DP should be legal. Source [2] says 60%, and source [3] says when people stop being oblivious to what criminals can do, that number jumps to 70%. I would hope that not all these people are murders who wish to get the death penalty.


==========


Closing

My arguments were essentially:
1. The DP deters, is just, and maintains necessary order for society to function.
2. The DP grants extra bargaining leverage for prosecutors.
3. The DP is worth the extra legal fees.
4. Wrongful convictions are extremely unlikely, and even if they were discovered, the convicted innocent is usually dead, and served jail time cannot be recovered.
5. A significant majority of the U.S. approve of the use of the DP.

I would like to remind the judges once again that I am playing devil’s advocate in this debate. I believe that there are always better alternatives to the death penalty.


==========


NS

SeventhProfessor

Con

"LWOP allows for a life to continue, but not be as final and cruel."

We need a reversible finality, in case evidence in favor of the criminal is shown.

I did not say that banning the child didn't make sense, I said the comparison didn't make sense. You tried to compare it to the DP earlier, and it seems we've both agreed it is more like LWOP, showing how LWOP and DP are of equal finality, as they both fit the comparison.

LWOP would also deter would-be criminals, and provides a equally safe environment. Keeping the criminal confined is useful, removing a murderer from society and stopping repeat murderers.

"If they fully understood the life they were losing with LWOP, it could deter them equally."

Yet those who view life lightly and don't value it as much are the less rational ones, and would most likely find LWOP a greater punishment.

I didn't contradict myself, I never said anything about fanatics. I contradicted your statement, but none of my own. It is best to imprison those fanatics for life before crime if there is enough evidence to support the crime will occur. This is another advantage of LWOP: You can stop horrible crimes from happening without killing someone for merely planning something.

"1.2% is a small number, and why not give the 98.8% a second chance instead of killing them"

Point conceded.

"this money could be better spent on persecuting other murderers that are free due to lack of evidence"

I have effectively shown why these points are invalid, and restating them would be redundant. I will just say that since thes points aren't true, the money certainly can be spent better more useful causes.

"one innocent life would be the cost 12 guilty and likely repeat offender lives, as opposed to 10 years of a life for 12 life sentences"

Most of your arguments were centered around murder, ad sounded as if all murderers should receive the DP. You have not made your stance clear, and directly contradicted this statement in R2 of the debate.

"If the majority of citizens believe the DP is either unnecessarily cruel or not punishment at all, than the DP should not be legal in that state."

Your source from Gallup also shows a decrease in support of the DP, which will most likely drop further in the coming years. This article was not meant to show support for the DP, but Americans losing support. The DP may be in America's interest, but, as your source says, that is quickly changing.
Debate Round No. 4
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by SeventhProfessor 3 years ago
SeventhProfessor
Thanks, I really enjoyed it. Good luck!
Posted by Bullish 3 years ago
Bullish
That was an interesting debate Prof. I agree with you 99.9%. Thanks and good day.
Posted by Bullish 3 years ago
Bullish
Last round I debated about prostitution, and Canada decriminalizes it.

This time I debate about capital punishment, and U.S. decides to pursue it on a high profile criminal:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com...
Posted by dtaylor971 3 years ago
dtaylor971
Ah yeah... just read that. Now I'm neutral. Whoever debates better gets my vote, no bias here, unlike ever vote anyone has ever done, don't lie ;P
Posted by Bullish 3 years ago
Bullish
I'm playing devil's advocate, so no problem.
Posted by dtaylor971 3 years ago
dtaylor971
Sorry Bullish... going against you on this one.
Posted by Bullish 3 years ago
Bullish
I'm hoping for weather on Monday then. Else my first argument will be very shoddy.
Posted by SeventhProfessor 3 years ago
SeventhProfessor
Sorry about that. I didn't see this comment until after I accepted.
Posted by Bullish 3 years ago
Bullish
Damn that was fast.
Posted by Bullish 3 years ago
Bullish
SeventhProfessor, if you would please, wait a couple of days to accept the debate. I need some extra time.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Josh_b 3 years ago
Josh_b
BullishSeventhProfessorTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: resources used by con that are misrepresented and confirm the case for pro. Con goes off topic in considering time and money. The time and money is related to the due process and not actually the DP
Vote Placed by whiteflame 3 years ago
whiteflame
BullishSeventhProfessorTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: There are a lot of various moving pieces, and I wish that one of the debaters had made it clear what the salient issue in the round was. As neither did, it is left up to me. Arguments of cost, popularity, bargaining power and "a sense of justice" aren't weighed, and I feel that they are of relatively minimal importance with regards to impact. Thus, I'm left with the arguments about life loss, which seem to be the most impactful. I have from Pro that 4,000-24,000 people might die per year if the death penalty ends. I don't get statistics on the number of deaths due to innocents being convicted from Con, Pro simply says they're small. As I recall, it amounts to about 150 in the last 30 years, at least among those documented. That number is smaller. Perhaps I would have given it more weight if I saw any arguments from Con about the importance of "innocent before proven guilty" in the American justice system. Since I don't, Pro outweighs. He also has more and better sources.