The Instigator
ReneRobles
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Kinesis
Pro (for)
Winning
18 Points

Resolved: Capital punishment in Texas is unjust

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/29/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,980 times Debate No: 18542
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (15)
Votes (4)

 

ReneRobles

Con

I stand in firm negation of todays resolution Resolved: Capital Punishment in Texas is unjust.

To start I would like to define a few keys terms, First from Merriam Webster dictionary
Unjust is defined as not based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair.

The value to be upheld in today's round is Justice. Justice is defined as (From Merriam Webster) the quality of being just, impartial, or fair. Justice is important in today's round because without Justice in our everyday lives, nothing would ever be just, such as trails and sentences. The capital punishment in Texas is just because we need to maintain order and consequences for peoples actions.

The criterion To uphold justice is Adhering to Utilitarian principals. This is defined as (from marriam webster) as an ethical theory holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes the overall "good" of the greatest number of individuals. So as you can see by ad hearing to the basic principals of Utilitarianism we can achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Clearly this achieves the value of Justices, because achieving good for the greatest number of people, no matter the mean, is overall just, ultimately what the capital punishment laws are achieving.

Contention 1: Threats to society need to be eliminated to stop future crime.
Sub-point A: Capital punishment Stops crime outside of prison.
Capital punishment ultimately brings criminals off the streets. With bringing these criminals off the streets and giving them no possible way to get back on them gives the American people a sense of safety and is the just thing to do. Without these capital punishment laws we would not be giving the American people on the streets this sense of safety and it wouldnt be just. "475 offenders have been executed since September 21st 2011 according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice"
Now with these statistics given, without capital punishment, these criminals would be serving life in prison, ultimately serving a threat to inmates, addressed in my next sub-point. But this is important to look at because without capital punishment we would not be insuring safety and it is not very just to let these criminals in jails for there whole life's, ultimately serving a threat.

Sub-point B: Capital punishment Stops crime inside of prison.
Capital punishment helps to stop crime inside of prisons also. Crime inside of prisons can never be 100% fully stopped, but a fraction of that crime CAN be stopped by capital punishment. According to a NAACP Legal Defense Fund stat shows that 332 inmates in prison are on current death Row in Texas, and that 3242 inmates are on death row through the United States, all of which have killed or caused great amounts of harm to people. Now clearly with the given statistics we can see that without Capital Punishment these inmates could potentially cause harm IN prison to guards, inmates, and even everyday people that visit there loved ones. Now the importance of this point is to look at the amount of inmates, and potential harm, they would caused if there were allowed to spend the rest of there lives in prison without capital punishment.

Contention 2: Capital punishment fits the means of a crime.
Capital punishment is only used to fit the mean of a crime." In Texas when an offender commits a murder, rape, and other various crimes is when Capital Punishment is used" According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Now this is clearly just because it allows us to use Capital Punishment only when the means of a crime fit Capital punishment. According to the Texas Department of Criminal justice "Lawrence Brewer, was charged with the crime of Abduction and murder of a 49-year-old man. And was executed September 21st 2011." Clearly capital punishment was used in this instance, and in many others, to fit the MEANS of this crime. This is VERY important to look at because capital punishment can NOT be flawed and ultimately fits the means of a crime further more providing justice and safety for everyone around.
Kinesis

Pro

I wish to make a note on the criterion used to judge the outcome of this debate. Utilitarianism is a broad term for a wide range of philosophical positions - in particular, there is wide disagreement over the 'utility' or 'good' that is to be maximised - it could be human welfare, preference satisfaction, pleasure or happiness etc. I trust this will not inhibit this debate too much, since we can get an intuitive understanding of what would be condemned by utilitarian standards generally, but it is worth keeping in mind the range of positions denoted by 'utilitarianism'. For the most part, I shall assume that the arguments I present will be tied to a utilitarian understanding of justice, but Con may challenge that assumption if he should wish.

I will provide the positive arguments for the resolution, then respond to Con's arguments.

Argument 1: The Death Penalty is far more expensive than life imprisonment

Death penalty cases are much more expensive than ordinary murder cases; this is because of complex pre-trial motions, lengthy jury selections and expenses for expert witnesses. In addition, courts tend to follow heightened due process because of the irreversibility of the death penalty, drawing out the trial. After conviction, prosecution and defense costs must be paid for the constitutionally mandated appeals.

In Kansas, a legislative audit found that the average cost of a death penalty case when compared to a similar non-death penalty case was 70 percent more. [1]; in Maryland, the figure is three times more [2].

In addition, the majority of costs are still incurred regardless of the outcome. The true cost of the death penalty includes the costs not only of those trials which successfully execute the criminal in question, but those who are spared as well. Also importantly, if the defendant is convicted but not given the death penalty, the cost of life imprisonment must be paid on top of the trial expenses.

A report by the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice estimated these figures:

1. The cost of the present death penalty system is $137 million per year.
2. The cost of a system which imposes a maximum penalty of lifetime incarceration instead of the death penalty would be $11.5 million per year [3]

Argument 2: The justice system is racist and excecutes innocent people

Numerous studies have documented the racial discrimination found in the history of capital punishment. Far more blacks are excecuted relative to their population than white counterparts. This additionally cannot be justified by the claim that black undertake more, and more serious crimes. A study in Philladelphia showed that "blacks in Philadelphia were substantially more likely to get the death penalty than other defendants who committed similar murders." "Black defendants faced odds of receiving a death sentence that were 3.9 times higher than other similarly situated defendants"[4] A fundamental part of utilitarian systems is its impartiality - utility can be generated by anyone regardless of race or gender. By discriminating against and killing people because of their race, this principle is violated.

It is difficult to judge how many people have been excecuted who were in actuality innocent - the number is certainly not zero, but it is difficult to determine since evidence is difficult to acquire once the defendant has been killed. In addition, courts have no desire to exonerate people they are responsible for ordering the deaths of. Despite that, there have been five people post-humerously exonerated after death and research indicates 74 innocent people have been excecuted in the period between 1989 and 2004. [5]

Counterpoints:

Counterpoint 1A: Capital punishment stops crime outside of prison.



With regards to threats outside of prison, this is done just as well with life imprisonment. In addition, this opens the possibility of rehibilitation or exoneration of the defendant, whereas once someone is dead there is no possibility of either. Con argues that people have "a sense of safety" because of the death penalty - well personally I would not feel particularly safe if the state had the power to execute its citizens (I live in Britian, where it does not) but Con provides no evidence in any case. Why should citizens fear people who are locked away in maximum security prisons, and why should we not be afraid of being executed by the state, especially given the racial (and income) bias found in the justice system?

Counterpoint 1B: Capital punishment stops crime inside of prison

Without evidence, this really doesn't hold much weight. If such people are held in a maximum security facility the probability of them causing harm will be low. I don't really know the statistic here, so I don't know if people who would have been death row inmates pose a significant threat within prisons. Regardless, violence in prisons is simply inevitable. If we execute people because they have the potential to cause harm within prisons, we should execute people with lesser offences than those currently allowed - unless Con is willing to accept that everyone who could cause harm in prisons should be killed, this point is moot.

Counterpoint 2: Capital punishment fits the means of a crime

As far as I can tell, this contention is irrelevant - purely retributive justice generates no utility, and thus this contention should be dropped per the criterion used to judge this debate. Besides, this argument is absurd - should we rape people who are rapists? Rob the family of people who have robbed other people's families? Eye for an eye justice is a monstrous ideology: as Ghandi put it 'an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind'.

Debate Round No. 1
ReneRobles

Con

===Opening=====
For a brief road map I will be address my opponents points made and further move on to rebuilding my case

===Arguments (Against pro)===

1. Although a very good point, we also have to look at the studies my opponent offers, the state of Kansas? We HAVE to adhere to the Resolution, and clearly the resolution states IN TEXAS. Now with that being said the points and claims made in my opponents case can not be looked at for the simple fact that the studies do NOT pertain to Texas whatsoever.
And if you don't buy that argument it cost $27,000 annually to keep a single inmate in a TEXAS prison, now with this stat given we can see that it still does cost a substantial amount of money to cover just one inmate in Texas. We also have to address that there are 160,000 inmates in Texas. 27,000 x 160,000 = 4320000000. That's a lot of money annually, so you can NOT say that keeping a inmate in a Texas prison would not be costly.

2. Again a very good claim but again, no credible evidence that PERTAINS to Texas, just an off the wall study that was done in Philadelphia.

Again, if you do not buy that argument that my opponents claims do not pertain to Texas than we will further look into the study, this study was in Philadelphia, The time of my opponents study was a time where African American people outnumbered those of them in Texas, so we can clearly see that with the higher number of blacks it will obviously have a higher chance of error. But like we have to keep in mind, no program ever used in history has ever not had flaws.

===arguments (con)===
Sub-1. I would like to start off saying that my opponent uses personal instances in where he does not feel safe to warrant his claim, now clearly in a educated debate we can not claim something and turn around a warrant it with a personal belief? If we did anyone could claim anything. But like I said before, we need capital punishment in place to promote the well being for the maximum number of people.

Sub-2. My opponent offers up an argument saying that I don't have proper evidence to support my said claim, but I offer up a very crucial stat showing how many people could have potentially caused more harm (based on convictions) in prison than others, and capital punishment allows for a those to excited, serving as the good for the people and serving them with justice.

2. My opponent says that promote the idea "rape for rape", but clearly I do not, capital punishment allows for the correct JUSTICE mean of any given situation (if severe enough) to be carried out. Although my offers a very crucial quote that I'm sure we will look towards further in the debate we can not adhere to this quote for the simple fact that, How would those who have cause SEVERE harm to others be punished? Life in prison? Why give the criminal the right to live? When he took one and if so, many other lives away, now allowing these criminals the right to live is as my opponent likes to say is "monstrous ideology".

http://www.texastribune.org...
http://quickfacts.census.gov...
http://quickfacts.census.gov...
Kinesis

Pro

The death penalty is costly

My point with bringing upstatistics from states not including texas was to draw out the underlying reasons why the death penalty is far more expensive than life imprisonment - still, it is fair to demand statistics for Texas as well. According to the Texas deparment of criminal justice is takes $47.50 per day to house an inmate. Thus it would cost about $17,340 to house an inmate for a year and $693,500 for 40 years. This is far less than capitcal cases - it took $1 million to seek the death penalty against Levi King, and that does not include the cost of appeals. The average cost for a capital case is estimated to be $1.2 million. [1]

Con's (unsourced) statistics include the costs of all the prisoners that are not on death row as well. To argue that they are an expensive is irrelevant - unless Con is arguing we excecute the entire prison population of Texas? For those inmates who are given the death penalty, it would have been cheaper to give the life incarceration.

The death penalty is racist

Con once again points out that the study I gave applies only to Philladelphia - but there is no reason to think that Texas is any less racist than Philledelphia. However, there are other studies to draw on that include Texas. A study involving Texas found that in 80% of cases race of victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving a death sentence, i.e., those who murdered whites were found to be more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks. [2] Con says that there were more blacks in Philladelphia - this is completely irrelevant. The study found that black were more likely to be sentenced to death than whites who had comitted similar crimes. The population of blacks doesn't affect the study at all. Pro says that no program has ever not had flaws - this goes beyond flaws. It's race killing, and should be abolished.

Counterpoints

Counterpoint 1A: Capital punishment stops crime outside of prison.

Con doesn't respond to the point that people should not be afraid of people who are locked away in high security prisons. He says that personal instances should not affect the debate - well, Con speculated that people feel unsafe without the death penalty without any evidence, so I speculate that people would feel unsafe with a discriminatory captical punishment system in place. Neither has any evidence, so these points cancel each other out. Con says we need the death penalty to promote the welfare of the maximum number of people, but gives no reason why.

Counterpoint 1B: Capital punishment stops crime inside of prison

I'm not entirely sure what Con's response here is. Looking at the links he's provided doesn't seem to show any evidence that would support his claims here. As I said, if we kill people just because they could potentially pose a threat, we should kill people with lesser convictions as well. Without evidence, Con's point doesn't stand anyway.

Counterpoint 2: Capital punishment fits the means of a crime

Con doesn't respond to the crucial point - this contention is irrelevant. The punishment 'fitting the crime' does not matter if we're using utilitarianism as a criterion for justice. Utilitarianism does not care if the punishment fits the crime, it cares about which actions will produce the greatest good.

[1] http://lubbockonline.com...;
[2] http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
Debate Round No. 2
ReneRobles

Con

ReneRobles forfeited this round.
Kinesis

Pro

Shame. This was a two round debate then, please vote!
Debate Round No. 3
ReneRobles

Con

ReneRobles forfeited this round.
Kinesis

Pro

+1 Internets if you name this:

A
Debate Round No. 4
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Kinesis 3 years ago
Kinesis
Huh, interesting.
Posted by phantom 3 years ago
phantom
Drag an image onto the google search bar
Posted by Kinesis 3 years ago
Kinesis
As in, use the image to search, which BlackVoid apparently did.
Posted by Kinesis 3 years ago
Kinesis
How do you search for images on google?
Posted by thett3 3 years ago
thett3
I don't think you'll have to research much. The law of parties in particular has A LOT of literature against it out there. But good debate guys, I'll pay attention to this one!
Posted by Kinesis 3 years ago
Kinesis
I do intend to focus the debate somewhat on Texas in the next round, but I don't know much about the specificies of laws in different states, not being from America and all. I could do some research and bring them up, but I don't know if I have the time. I'm kinda starved for time right now applying for unis.
Posted by thett3 3 years ago
thett3
Pro seems to be arguing against Capital Punishment, not specifically Texas which is disappointing. I would enjoy seeing a debate over the more controversial aspects of the DP in Texas (law of parties and the execution of foreign nationals)
Posted by BlackVoid 3 years ago
BlackVoid
Con I'm just gonna point out that your third contention does not fit under the criterion of Utilitarianism. Might want to change that before someone takes advantage.
Posted by phantom 3 years ago
phantom
I'm pretty sure Texas is like the least just in my opinion, so I might take this.
Posted by ReneRobles 3 years ago
ReneRobles
Thank you!
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Man-is-good 3 years ago
Man-is-good
ReneRoblesKinesisTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: ReneRobes failed to address Kinesis' main points including his contention about the bias of the justice system, by focusing on irrelevant details, such as the location of the study...He criticizes Pro for using personal examples despite the fact that he himself speculates, with no evidence used, on how people feel secure with the death penalty in place. A great deal of his responses were quibbles and unsupported by sources, which were lacking on his side...
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 3 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
ReneRoblesKinesisTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: http://www.debate.org/photos/albums/1/2/1225/16288-1225-ff7mx-a.jpg
Vote Placed by BlackVoid 3 years ago
BlackVoid
ReneRoblesKinesisTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Google tells me the image is Sokyoku Hill
Vote Placed by thett3 3 years ago
thett3
ReneRoblesKinesisTied
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Reasons for voting decision: This debate disappointed me. Neither pro nor con focused on the main issues...the Resolution specifically states Texas, not CP in general. This implies that the core of the debate should be about Texas, and its unique methods for capital punishment (law of parties and how Texas executes foreign nationals..both of which have been brought up to the Supreme Court). Still, Pro's argument was more compelling by far.