The Instigator
ZackJarvis
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
gavin.ogden
Con (against)
Winning
15 Points

Resolved: Capital punishment ought not be continued in the United States.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
gavin.ogden
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/3/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,758 times Debate No: 13900
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (29)
Votes (5)

 

ZackJarvis

Pro

"Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders." -Albert Camus

I stand in firm affirmation that capital punishment (the death penalty) ought not be continued in the United States. First to clarify I will provide a few definitions to clarify the resolution.

Ought: used to express duty or moral obligation
Capital punishment: punishment by death for a crime; death penalty

As a point of clarification as well currently 35 states within the United States practice the death penalty.

The first reason we ought not continue the use of the death penalty is simply the cost it presents to our nation. The opposite punishment for the death penalty is life imprisonment and on the surface this seems like a more costly means of punishing criminals. However, we could not be more wrong. MSNBC finds from recent surveys that the death penalty is tens of millions dollars more expensive than life imprisonment. Why should we spend millions of more dollars to execute a prisoner when we could just hold them for their life in prison without parol. We just recently when through a recession and a great way to have saved money during this time would have been to eliminate the death penalty all together. We are taking millions of dollars here that 35 states are using up to execute prisoners. Think of all the money we could save if we simply stopped using it.

Another reason that capital punishment should no longer be practiced is the fact that we are never sure that the person that we are killing is one hundred percent guilty. Our justice system is not perfect by any means and we should know this. At times jurys get it wrong. At times our justice system fails and innocent people are sent to jail. We don't know for a full certainty in cases that the person we are sending to death row is guilty of the crime they were prosecuted for. Amnesty USA brings up the statistic that as of 1973, 130 people have been released from death row after wrongful convictions. Those numbers alone prove that our judicial system isn't perfect. Now you may say that our justice system prevailed when we found these people to be wrongfully convicted. However, how do we know that the other people who were executed just weren't lucky enough to have someone uncover the truth about their innocence in time. When our justice system sends people to death row who are in fact innocent, we can see that we can't practice the death penalty when we have no doubts in our mind that the person going to be executed is 100% guilty. It is for that fact alone that the death penalty should be eliminated.

We have to see that the continued use of the death penalty is just not smart on our nations behalf. We argue that murder is an awful crime, but then our government turns around and commits murder itself. As Gandhi once said "An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind." I understand we are striving for justice which is a great and noble goal. However, to say that life imprisonment does not supply this same sort of justice is incorrect. These criminals are removed from society and have their freedom stripped from them. This way the government will also save money and if innocent people are sent to jail, we have more time to uncover their innocence without the idea that we may be executing innocent people.

I now open the floor to my opponent and look forward to the debate.

Sources: http://www.msnbc.msn.com...
http://www.amnestyusa.org...
gavin.ogden

Con

I would like to thank ZachJarvis for bringing this very important topic to light, and look forward to a thought provoking debate. I agree with the definitions given, and will start with my rebuttals.

My opponent starts by basically saying the death penalty costs taxpayers more than a life sentence without possibility of parole. While this would be a great argument, it simply is not fact. The fact is that statistics on this are very skewed. First, there are federal and state statistics to take into consideration. Federal data on the cost of implementing existing death penalty provisions are nonexistent. At the state level, cost data are limited. Few of these states have data on death penalty costs and even when available, the data were incomplete. Most of the studies did not actually compare death sentence cases with non death sentence cases, and some of the studies did not contain actual cost data. Further, even in cases where cost data were cited, these data were incomplete.http://deathpenalty.procon.org..., the major costs associated with the death penalty are due to fact that many death row inmates live their entire lives without actually being put to death. The appeal process takes forever, and these facilities are extremely expensive to maintain. "What we are paying for at such great cost is essentially our own ambivalence about capital punishment. We try to maintain the apparatus of state killing and another apparatus that almost guarantees that it won't happen. The public pays for both sides."http://deathpenalty.procon.org... There is no question that the up front costs of the death penalty are significantly higher than for equivalent life sentence cases. There also appears to be no question that, over time, equivalent life sentence cases are much more expensive than death penalty cases. Opponents claim that the death penalty costs, over time, is more than life sentences.http://deathpenalty.procon.org...
Take all the bureaucratic red tape out of the equation, and it is common sense that it costs less to just get rid of someone, than to feed, clothe, house, and entertain them, right?

On to the imperfect judicial system argument. This argument might have held up twenty years ago, but not anymore. With DNA evidence, and the advance of many other forensic technologies, the chances of convicting an innocent man or woman in a murder case is slim to none.http://www.policyalmanac.org...
Furthermore, if someone is convicted, they are considered guilty by a court of law, and deserve whatever penalty the court sees fit. There is no room for second guessing that person's guilt. If that were the case, we would have to revamp the entire judicial system, which is a debate for another time. My opponent uses a statistic that 130 people have been released from death row, but I have already given the reason for that. These people were convicted before all of our forensic advancements, and were vindicated based current technology.

In summation of my first round, I would like to point out that the point of the death penalty is not simply justice, although I believe it serves that purpose very well. It is also about discouraging acts punishable by death. It shows our criminal element that if you commit certain crimes, you will be put to death. For the criminals that are not swayed by a death sentence, I would argue that these people are not able to be rehabilitated anyway, and are a danger to anyone they come in contact with. This includes other inmates, who may not have commited a crime worthy of the death penalty. The sollution for criminals like this is the death penalty. It serves as proper justice, saves tax payer dollars, and discourages acts punishable by death.

Thanks to the readers, and my opponent for your time, and I look forward to very enjoyable second round.
Debate Round No. 1
ZackJarvis

Pro

First I would like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate and from his arguments thus far it seems like I am in for a good one.

Now I will defend my points against the attacks he made against them.

Against my argument that the costs of the death penalty are simply too much he brings up that this is simply not true. He brings up how studies that have been used in the past did not have complete data and/or did not compare death penalty costs with non death penalty costs. First my opponent states " the major costs associated with the death penalty are due to fact that many death row inmates live their entire lives without actually being put to death. The appeal process takes forever, and these facilities are extremely expensive to maintain." This proves my point more that we should abolish the death penalty sense getting someone to death row is so costly because of the lengthy appeals process and just how expensive the facilities are. These arguments further prove that if we were to abolish the death penalty these facilities would no longer be needed saving us millions of dollars.

The second defense I have here is the validity of my opponents source. It is a website called deathpenalty.procon.org. The sources I could look at through his links came from the year 2008. That does seem rather recent, however my MSNBC source comes from March of 2009. That is much more recent than my opponents source showing that although studies before may have not been as thorough as they should be, this does not debunk my evidence that life imprisonment is much more cost effective than the death penalty. The MSNBC source states that it is "10 times more expensive to kill them thank to keep them alive." (MSNBC source) It would seem that the more recent source from a well known news agency would be the more valid source then a website known as deathpenalty.procon.org that asks for a donation when you log on.

My opponent's argument against the idea that our judicial system isn't perfect is that since the new developments in DNA evidence, the chances of convicting innocent people is slim to none. However, my opponent must not have looked at my source from amnestyusa.org that says since 2003 alone, 10 people have been released from death row after they were found to be innocent. To say that just because DNA testing is around we are going to get the right person on death row is illogical. While DNA testing has helped put criminals away, it is not perfect since we can see even in recent years innocent people are still going to death row. How can we send people to death row without knowing for a fact that the person who will be executed is in fact guilty or not. So therefore, his argument saying that all the people who were convicted before our forensic advancements falls since we can see even in the past decade when DNA technology was around innocent people were being wrongfully convicted by our own justice system.

In his final argument he says that the death penalty is also used as a deterrent of sorts, however he doesn't bring up any real evidence to say one way or another. I would like to bring up evidence to refute this point.

It would seem logical to think that if a man who is considering homicide knows he will be murdered for doing so would not commit the crime. "But that's not the real world. The South executes far more convicted murderers than any other region yet has a homicide rate far above the national average. Texas' murder rate is slightly above average, despite the state's peerless deployment of the death penalty. If capital punishment were an effective deterrent to homicide, shouldn't we expect the opposite result?" (http://www.dallasnews.com...) In Texas, one of the United States top states that uses the death penalty the murder rate is still higher than average. If the death penalty is such a good deterrent then why are murders still above average in that state? It is illogical to believe that the death penalty is a deterrent when states who use it the most are seeing no affect.

My opponent makes arguments which would all seem valid, however when you see them through current evidence they fall apart. The death penalty is still very costly as shown my recent studies and our money would be better put to life imprisonment. Our judicial system, even with DNA testing, is flawed and can't be trusted 100% for putting the right person away. Finally, we can see that the death penalty isn't the deterrent that we would like to believe it is.

With that I open the floor back up to my opponent and look forward to the next and final round.

Sources: http://www.dallasnews.com...
And above sources in Round 1
gavin.ogden

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for his quick response, and a well argued round.

While my opponent makes some good arguments, I feel I must defend some of my previously stated arguments. He claims that, "This proves my point more that we should abolish the death penalty sense getting someone to death row is so costly because of the lengthy appeals process and just how expensive the facilities are. These arguments further prove that if we were to abolish the death penalty these facilities would no longer be needed saving us millions of dollars." He misses my point here. The points were these: First, many death row inmates serve out life sentences anyway, and all the money spent on them is included in the death row statistics. This skews the numbers, so that they appear to be higher on the capitol punishment side. Also, I feel I must defend the attack on my sources. My sources came from a neutral site, with absolutely no bias for or against capitol punishment. Notice how is has pro and con in the title itself. Furthermore, the majority of my opponents' argument is taken from an anti-death penalty propaganda site.http://www.amnestyusa.org... I encourage unbiased readers to peruse this site. I also feel no further need to defend my argument against skewed monetary statistics.

Next, my opponent tries to debunk my argument on modern forensic science. I am personally somewhat disappointed that he tried to use that same website to refute my argument. He quotes the site by saying, " since 2003 alone, 10 people have been released from death row after they were found to be innocent." He fails to mention that these men were convicted before current forensic advancements, and vindicated using modern methods, which
I had already stated in my first round. In fact, the most recent murder conviction on that site was from 1995. I feel no further need to defend my argument for modern day forensic science, and would very much appreciate a retraction of the statement, "So therefore, his argument saying that all the people who were convicted before our forensic advancements falls since we can see even in the past decade when DNA technology was around innocent people were being wrongfully convicted by our own justice system." This statement is NOT factual, and the argument does not fall.

My opponent states there is no evidence that the death penalty acts a deterrent. I say, no evidence is necessary. It would certainly deter me. The point is that most people are not murderers and rapists. Those that are not deterred by laws and the subsequent punishments do not need to be kept alive. All they do while being kept alive is cost money, and endanger the people around them. My opponent states, " My opponent makes arguments which would all seem valid, however when you see them through current evidence they fall apart. The death penalty is still very costly as shown my recent studies and our money would be better put to life imprisonment. Our judicial system, even with DNA testing, is flawed and can't be trusted 100% for putting the right person away. Finally, we can see that the death penalty isn't the deterrent that we would like to believe it is." I have negated this entire summation, including this 100% accuracy idea. If a man/woman is convicted, he/she is 100% convicted, therefore we must carry out 100% of the punishment. That is why we have improved all aspects of criminal investigation, and have vindicated 130 people since 1973.

I would like to extend a sincere thanks to ZachJarvis for this debate, and the readers, for your time and feedback. I am anxious for my opponents final round, as I am sure it will be a good one.
Debate Round No. 2
ZackJarvis

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for a well argued round. Now for my final arguments and my final round.

First against the facts on the cost of the death penalty he states I get most of my evidence form amnestyusa.org which clearly not true if you are to read through my MSNBC article which he has no argument against the validity of the website or the article. Then he says amnestyusa.org is an "anti-death penalty propaganda site" which is simply not true. This site is a humans right site. Since when has been upholding human rights been propaganda? It baffles me that my opponent would attack this site which is trying to uphold human rights around the world and defending those who haven't been that well defended in the first place. I believe his argument against my source is a rather weak one at that. He also, again like I stated before, refuses to attack the statistics that are brought up in MSNBC article and it seems almost as if he has refused to read it all together. The facts he brings up about statistics being skewed was from a year or two before the MSNBC article. Therefore, it holds no ground that the MSNBC studies are in any way incorrect. I like how my opponent says that DNA technology can advance but study taking can seemingly not.

My opponent then to defend his DNA argument basically says what he said in the first round over again. In the perfect world DNA technology would work all of the time. However, we can clearly not say that it does. While DNA evidence is a great new source of information for us in our judicial system, we can't put all of our eggs in to one basket with it. We don't live in a utopia where DNA testing will always work in time to save an innocent persons life who has been wrongfully convicted. We always wont get that lucky and we don't know if we have sent innocent people to death before they were saved. While I will agree with my opponent that DNA testing is a great tool, I still can't say that we can continue use of the death penalty just because we have it around. DNA testing may make the margin of error a bit slimmer, but that margin is still there. While that margin of error is there we can not send people to death row with no moral uncertainty.

Now on to my final argument and defense for the round on the death penalty being a deterrent. My opponent simply states on this point that he doesn't need evidence because it does deter him. If we were only talking about the death penalty as a deterrent on well mannered debaters then yes this argument would flow to his side. However, when I bring up evidence proving that in one of the states that the death penalty is most commonly used in we so no deterrent effect we can see that this magical deterrence we believe the death penalty has is clearly just not there as my opponent would like you to believe. His defense here is very weak and falls rather easily.

Now on to the main reasons that the pro side has won today's debate.

1. Even with DNA technology around, we can not say that the margin of error of sending an innocent person to death row still isn't there. Therefore, our judicial system can not morally continue the use of the death penalty. We ought not continue the use of the death penalty within our judicial system.

2. The death penalty simply costs too much. If you are to look through my evidence from the MSNBC source you will see many shocking factors in to why it costs so much to house an inmate on death row. Even if they aren't executed there are more factors that lead to the cost being so high. If we were to simply do away with it we would no longer have to worry about the millions of dollars we are pouring in to it, and could maybe send those millions of dollars to trying to prevent crimes from happening in the first place.

3. The death penalty has no deterrence. When you look at the evidence that only my side has provided in this debate on the argument you can see that the argument simply falls that it has any sort of deterrent effect.

You can clearly see that the pro side in today's debate has clearly shown that capital punishment ought not be continued in the United States. Our judicial system can not fulfill it's moral obligation when they cost our nations millions of extra dollars and put innocent people's lives on the line just so we can execute a person.

"Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders."-Albert Camus

I urge a Pro vote in today's debate and thank my opponent for a good and healthy debate.
gavin.ogden

Con

I would like to thank my opponent, for what has been a well argued, thought provoking debate. I do not intend on using any new arguments, as I feel I have painted a fairly clear picture of the misconceptions and rhetoric surrounding the death penalty.
First, the monetary statistics associated with capital punishment are skewed. Yes, even the statistics used by MSNBC. They are an entertainment news source, and used the same studies I already cited in my first round. Again, I ask the voters to use common sense in conjunction with facts. What's cheaper? Keeping someone alive(which is basically what a life term is) or just doing away with them(death)? The death penalty, itself, is cheap. All the red tape and hoops to jump through, is what costs. Remove the tape, and do away with the dog and pony show, and capital punishment is the way to go.
As far as needing 100% proof in order to execute someone, I don't necessarily agree with my opponent, but I will accept that notion for the time being. If you look at my opponent stats, you will see that executions in this country are actually declining. This is because juries are taking the responsibility very seriously. Also, my opponent mistakenly shrinks my argument for forensic advancement to only DNA evidence. There are far more advancements, and all of them are helping us be absolutely certain that the inmate being put to death is 100% guilty. Although, as previously stated, if you are convicted, you are guilty 100%. That is the basis of the judicial process. Innocent until proven guilty, then it's time to pay the piper.
Again, if you are not deterred by the fear of death, what difference do the laws make? So, whether the capital punishment laws deter these ghastly crimes or not, is a moot point.
I would like to thank my opponent for giving me the opportunity to debate this very important issue, and hope the readers have found some insight. Whether the vote goes pro or con, this debate was a lot of fun, and I look forward to another very soon. Good day to all.
Debate Round No. 3
29 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by innomen 6 years ago
innomen
Why? Because it is a matter of justice that the life of some be taken away. It is an injustice that the individual who commits horrific crimes against individuals and society be able to enjoy filling his lungs with oxygen and receiving any possible or conceivable measure of joy through life itself that was taken from those that he or she killed. I take no joy in such matters, it's a painful and horrible decision to make, that shouldn't be made lightly, but justice should not be compromised.

One would think it would be an easy enough task to find someone that was wrongfully executed. I cannot prove a negative though. I would also think that such an instance would be helpful in a debate like this, or in your general position.
Posted by ZackJarvis 6 years ago
ZackJarvis
I am looking at the one and I am very tempted. I am going to research a bit and look in to it. You may have a challenger.
Posted by gavin.ogden 6 years ago
gavin.ogden
I can certainly appreciate your arguments, and I have certainly enjoyed debating you. How do you feel about affirmative action? I have an open challenge, with your name written all over it.
Posted by ZackJarvis 6 years ago
ZackJarvis
I really like bringing up the death penalty just because it sparks this type of debate. Will the death penalty ever be terminated, I don't know and this debate will probably go on for years to come. It is just a fun one to have.
Posted by ZackJarvis 6 years ago
ZackJarvis
Actually that is false for most families. I did this debate a few years ago when i was in high school and several pieces I had back then (I would have to research back) showed that families believed that the death penalty was the easy way out and they wanted these people to stay in prison for their life and not get that sentence cut short.
Posted by gavin.ogden 6 years ago
gavin.ogden
This would not have held up in our debate either, because it falls in the timeline before modern forensic investigation.
Posted by gavin.ogden 6 years ago
gavin.ogden
How about, it makes the family of the people these men/women killed feel a little better, knowing proper justice was done.
Posted by ZackJarvis 6 years ago
ZackJarvis
Innomen: You wanted some evidence? Here you are.

Carlos DeLuna Texas Conviction: 1983, Executed: 1989
A Chicago Tribune investigation released in 2006 revealed groundbreaking evidence that Texas may have executed an innocent man in 1989. The defendant, Carlos DeLuna, was executed for the fatal stabbing of Texas convenience store clerk Wanda Lopez in 1983. New evidence uncovered by reporters Maurice Possley and Steve Mills casts doubt on DeLuna's guilt and points towards another man, Carlos Hernandez, who had a record of similar crimes and repeatedly confessed to the murder. A news piece aired on ABC's "World News Tonight" also covered this story.

The new evidence casted strong doubt on DeLuna's guilt. This is the fourth investigation in the past two years pointing to the execution of a probably innocent man. Similar questions have been raised in the cases of Cameron Todd Willingham and Ruben Cantu in Texas, and Larry Griffin in Missouri.

See the Chicago Tribune's Investigation, "Did This Man Die...for This Man's Crime?"
Watch ABC's "World News Tonight" (June 24, 2006)
Watch "Did Texas Execute Innocent Men?" - Dan Rather Reports reveals new details surrounding two capital murder cases in Texas - leading to the executions of Ruben Cantu and Carlos De Luna that may have occurred as the result of flawed evidence (September 2007).
Posted by ZackJarvis 6 years ago
ZackJarvis
Innomen, it is not a zero. If I cared to continue researching I'm sure things could be found. And are you honestly expecting me to believe that all innocent people on death row were always released before their execution? That is just silly logic. If you want our government to kill people and just say that the people that innocent will be figured out later then that is fine. Just means we share different views on the subject.

And I completely disagree if you on the cost being irrelevant.

I guess my question for you is what does the death penalty do that life in prison doesn't? Why do you advocate for the death penalty when there is a cheaper method that essentially does the same thing except the government doesn't murder someone. Oh I'm sorry, exectue.
Posted by innomen 6 years ago
innomen
Zach, i will take that as a 0, which is what i always seem to find. There is not one case in the last century and a half of a death penalty that was used on an innocent man in the US. That's just silly to assert that only the government investigates such things. I also think that cost is an irrelevant factor in a debate such as this. If cost is going to be a determining factor in justice, there probably should be a whole list of offenses that are just not worth investigating or prosecuting because of the expense involved.
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