The Instigator
john.klepac
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Rayze
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points

Life without parole is worse than the death penalty.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Rayze
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/22/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,972 times Debate No: 28529
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)

 

john.klepac

Pro

Life without parole ultimately fails at both of its aims:
-To be merciful (compared to the death penalty) - it keeps people locked up for the rest of their lives, knowing that they will never leave, but does not allow them to remove themselves from the situation, i.e. commit suicide. They will eventually die, and the state will not be sad, but they will have to wait a very long time for it.
-To be harsh - It is not as "scary" as the death penalty and appears, to most people, to be a benign punishment in comparison. In this way, it is weak, especially because it fails to be an effective deterrent to crime (even compared to the death penalty, whose effect on crime appears lackluster).

Life without parole falls between two extremes, mercy and harshness, and ultimately fails at reaching either of them. The death penalty, in contrast, is more scary - and thus warns criminals a little better - but isn't as torturous.

(As a side note, I don't support the death penalty either; I think life should be reserved for only the most serious offenders, but that even then there should be a possibility of parole, because it's the state's responsibility to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt whenever prompted to do so. That's beside the point, though.)
Rayze

Con

What do you mean by worse? Worse as in economics, morality, or other?
Please clarify, thank you

Negative arguments will begin in the 2nd round, with rebuttals.
Definitions will be done in R1.

Definitions;
Retribution: the idea that punishment should be determined chiefly (possibly even only) by the seriousness of the crime itself, and not by consequential factors, such as whether the punishment is enough to scare (i.e. deter) the rest of society. Not to be mistaken with revenge, retaliation, or vengeance.

Life without possibility of parole: a sentence sometimes given for particularly vicious criminals in murder cases or to repeat felons, particularly if the crime is committed in a state which has no death penalty, the jury chooses not to impose the death penalty, or the judge feels it is simpler to lock the prisoner up and "throw away the key" rather than invite years of appeals while the prisoner languishes on death row.
Debate Round No. 1
john.klepac

Pro

I haven't mentioned economics, so yes, I am arguing based on morality.

I don't see why you felt the need to waste a round on definitions per it being the first one, but then again I haven't been here for very long and this may be some kind of custom.

I also don't know why you chose to define "retribution." I haven't mentioned it, you haven't mentioned it, and it's not the only reason that either life without parole or the death penalty is invoked; another reason (possibly a chief one, though less so nowadays, as evidenced by Obama's insistence on keeping the death penalty to let society exert the full measure of its anger on criminals) is to protect the public from further attacks.

You brought up the idea that the judge should be free to "throw away the key" regarding such criminals to prevent appeals and challenges. Well, if I was on death row or sentenced to life without parole, I'd darn well want to challenge it, whether or not I was guilty. However, under life without parole I would not be able to. Moreover, me having the ability to challenge my sentence would place greater pressure on the courts to prove my guilt with as airtight a case as possible. This is a burden that the courts should have, not only because it is their job to make airtight cases (and the rest of my life shouldn't be up to whether they "feel like" hearing my appeal again) but because the burden of proving with no reasonable doubt - and, by extension, as often as necessary and allowed - that I am guilty rests on them.
Rayze

Con

No, it is not a custom, I simply waited a round to make sure that any contentions I make are not based on misunderstandings which would be detrimental to me.

Why define retribution:
Retribution is the base of many Criminal Justice Systems such as those in the US. Thus its definition is needed to clarify its role in the worse or not worse debate regarding the death penalty and life imprisonmment.

Can you cite your sources that life imprisonment is worse than capital punishment?

Rebuttals

Retribution is necessary in this debate as the death penalty and life imprisonment without possibility of parole both accomplishes the punitive measures in varying degrees. According to the definition of retribution that I have placed in R1, Capital punishment often fails at retribution because it is tinged with consequential factors such as to deter society, revenge, retaliation, and vengeance. Whereas Life imprisonment without possibility of parole according to you fails at deterrence, and maintains its severity as prisoners languish in cells for their crimes. Thus Life in imprisonment follows the criterion of retribution establishing its effectiveness in the United States criminal justice system.

John P. Conrad, MA, former Chief of the Center for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation at the National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, wrote:
"I hold that the execution of the most contemptible murderer conflicts with the true functions of retributive justice" the repudiation of evil done and the prospective reconciliation of the criminal with the community he has wronged. When punishment lapses into mere retaliation, the criminal's total criminality is affirmed; there can be no reason to expect reconciliation. When that retaliation takes the form of execution, the community makes it clear that it expects neither atonement nor reconciliation. The unreconciled criminal was our enemy; once he is executed he is still unreconciled, a dead enemy.
The scales of punishment that should compose the structure of retributive justice do not require retaliation, even at the apex where murderers must be punished. Capital punishment can be justified only by retaliatory justice as practiced in ancient Greece and Rome. For retributive justice, long imprisonment, sometimes life imprisonment, is the response that fits the continuity of punishments to which modern society is now committed...
...The death penalty is an anachronism of which society must purge itself so that the process of retributive justice may contribute to order and solidarity rather than to the inflammation of hostility." (1)

The quote states how the effectiveness of life in prison without parole prevents the moral corruption of the United States Criminal Justice system. This corruption as stated in Mr. Conrad's book is the death penalty's justification via retaliatory justice which impedes the retributive justice system of the US.

Mario Cuomo, JD, Governor of New York June 17, 1989 wrote:
"What makes the risk of wrongful execution all the more unacceptable is that there is an effective alternative to burning the life out of human beings in the name of public safety. That alternative is just as permanent, at least as great a deterrent and - for those who are so inclined - far less expensive than the exhaustive legal appeals required in capital cases.
That alternative is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. No 'minimums' or 'maximums.' No time off for good behavior. No chance of release by a parole board, ever. Not even the possibility of clemency. It is, in practical effect, a sentence of death in incarceration.
Life without parole is achievable immediately. The Legislature could enact it Monday. I would sign the measure Tuesday. It would apply to crimes committed the next day. In fact, the only thing preventing the next cop killer from spending every day of the rest of his life in jail is the politics of death."(2)
Based upon the risks of executing an innocent individual, the Criminal Justice system would fail on its mandate of upholding justice if it executes an innocent person who is convicted of a crime as that would constitute an irreparable injustice. Life without parole on the other hand is a reparable injustice as evidence is found to exonerate the convicted individual, which would result in his/her release and compensation for wrongful imprisonment.

1 -Van, Den Haag, Ernest., and John Phillips Conrad. The Death Penalty: A Debate. New York: Plenum, 1983. Print.
2 -Cuomo, Mario M. "New York State Shouldn't Kill People." New York Times 17 June 1989: n. pag. Print.
Debate Round No. 2
john.klepac

Pro

>"Can you cite your sources that life imprisonment is worse than capital punishment?"

I don't need sources for the generalization that life without parole is worse than death, because it is just that, a generalization that cannot be proven by one specific source. However, I will provide them for individual points.

>"The quote states how the effectiveness of life in prison without parole prevents the moral corruption of the United States Criminal Justice system. This corruption as stated in Mr. Conrad's book is the death penalty's justification via retaliatory justice which impedes the retributive justice system of the US."

That it is a quote rather than your own opinion doesn't make it any more true than yours or than mine. It is still just Conrad's opinion, and you cite no sources that he gives, nor does the quote give any indication that he has any.

Even if this quote was completely objective and keenly posited, it would only show that capital punishment is bad (in that it is a little overblown and vengeful), not that life without parole is any better.

>"The death penalty is an anachronism of which society must purge itself so that the process of retributive justice may contribute to order and solidarity rather than to the inflammation of hostility."

I take special issue with this. The death penalty is not an anachronism, as it continues to show popular support (1) and only without popular support could it run counter to popular ideals of order and justice. Also, life without parole is more conducive to the inflammation of hostility, as well as more cruel to prisoners, but I've mentioned that before and have not yet substantively backed it up, so here goes:

Life without parole, when the death penalty is another option, is often overly hastily applied because the assumption lingers that it is less serious. This has resulted in LWOP (as I will henceforth refer to it) being applied when, had LWOP not been an option, the accused would not have been likely to be sentenced to death, if they had even been eligible (2), and would have received some sentence with parole.

LWOP routinely puts inmates through "loss of friends, self-esteem and personal identity,
social role, professional identity, autonomy, and personal possessions" (2), in University of Kentucky researcher Glenn Abraham's words. While it is likely that inmates sentenced to death experience these same woes while they wait, they do not have to wait as long, plus they always have the hope of leaving. LWOP sentencees, in contrast, lose their dignity when sentenced, as the state demonstrates with each conviction that it does not care enough either to carry out what it feels to its conclusion or to give the accused any chance of leaving.

Your second quote seems more reasonable, but it also fails to address the possibility that LWOP is more damaging to prisoners than the death penalty is. Also, it is uncommon for the cases of LWOP sentencees to ever be challenged, especially later on than they would have been executed if they'd gotten death. Compensation does little to compensate, as the time is lost forever and prison has still done its work.

(1) Jones, Jeffrey. "Support for the Death Penalty 30 Years After the Supreme Court Ruling." Gallup; June 30, 2006.
(2) Abraham, Glenn J. "Prisoners Serving Life Without Parole: A Qualitative Study and Survey." University of Kentucky; 2011.
Rayze

Con

Pro has failed to refute my rebuttals and has failed to provide the burden of proof which is customary that pro have the burden of proof.

Pro's rebuttal; "That it is a quote rather than your own opinion doesn't make it any more true than yours or than mine. It is still just Conrad's opinion, and you cite no sources that he gives, nor does the quote give any indication that he has any. Even if this quote was completely objective and keenly posited, it would only show that capital punishment is bad (in that it is a little overblown and vengeful), not that life without parole is any better."

My opponent has committed the straw man fallacy as he does not give evidence supporting his rebuttal. Instead he simply overlooks Conrad's former position, and has played a sourcing game claiming that Conrad is simply stating his own opinion that is not substantiated by sources. Conrad establishes his credibility as the former Chief of the Center for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation at the National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, which would mean that he would have access to many sources to conduct his research.

Life without parole, when the death penalty is another option, is often overly hastily applied because the assumption lingers that it is less serious. This has resulted in LWOP (as I will henceforth refer to it) being applied when, had LWOP not been an option, the accused would not have been likely to be sentenced to death, if they had even been eligible (2), and would have received some sentence with parole.

My opponent's other rebuttal, "LWOP routinely puts inmates through "loss of friends, self-esteem and personal identity,
social role, professional identity, autonomy, and personal possessions" (2), in University of Kentucky researcher Glenn Abraham's words. While it is likely that inmates sentenced to death experience these same woes while they wait, they do not have to wait as long, plus they always have the hope of leaving. LWOP sentencees, in contrast, lose their dignity when sentenced, as the state demonstrates with each conviction that it does not care enough either to carry out what it feels to its conclusion or to give the accused any chance of leaving.
Your second quote seems more reasonable, but it also fails to address the possibility that LWOP is more damaging to prisoners than the death penalty is. Also, it is uncommon for the cases of LWOP sentencees to ever be challenged, especially later on than they would have been executed if they'd gotten death. Compensation does little to compensate, as the time is lost forever and prison has still done its work."

Is not a valid rebuttal since he simply shifts from the risk executing the wrong person for mental issues. However, My opponent does not take into account the gradual prison reform that is being done in the US. Currently in California, there is an honor program to rehabilitate criminals. This is speculation, but it is likely that LWOP may cease to exist in the future as the United States Criminal Justice system turns to a rehabilitation based justice system.

http://www.good.is...
http://www.prisonhonorprogram.org...
http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org...

Thus I urge a con vote.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by PhantomJedi759 1 year ago
PhantomJedi759
john.klepacRayzeTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro contradicted himself in his opening argument. "To be merciful," and, "to be harsh," are incompatible at a basic definition level.
Vote Placed by imabench 1 year ago
imabench
john.klepacRayzeTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: pro's arguments that life without parole is worse then the death penalty were based largely on his own opinion, which isnt enough to prove that life without parole is worse then the death penalty. If pro gave evidence that life without parole is worse by citing examples of prison stabbings, prison rape, prison gang crimes, etc then he would have had much stronger arguments. Unfortunately he didnt, and while con's arguments werent as good as they could have been, they were still good enough to defeat the pro's arguments. Very cool debate to read though