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Resolved: The US Federal Government should abolish Capital Punishment

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/24/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 679 times Debate No: 90154
Debate Rounds (4)
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Don’t troll

BOP is shared

First round is constructive, followed by rebuttals.


Capital Punishment: Executing people who have committed heinous crimes.

Abolish: Get rid of entirely

I hereby affirm the resolution that the US Federal Government should abolish capital punishment for the following contentions.

Contention 1: Costs

  1. A. Court Costs

The US Federal Government always has had a tendency to waste money on useless programs. However, few waste as much money as capital punishment. If we look toward the Death Penalty Information Center, we can see recent studies have shown the actual price of the death penalty. For instance, a recent study done by Judge Arthur Alarcon and Professor Paula Mitchell in California in 2011, we can see that the costs of Capital Punishment can be broken down as such:

  • $1.94 billion--Pre-Trial and Trial Costs
  • $925 million--Automatic Appeals and State Habeas Corpus Petitions
  • $775 million--Federal Habeas Corpus Appeals
  • $1 billion--Costs of Incarceration

The authors then stated that without capital punishment, California could save 20 billion USD. We can see this similar trend with other states as well. According to the fact sheet on the Death Penalty Information Center, the Kansas Judicial Council in 2014 has found that a trial of capital punishment usually costs 400,000 USD, as opposed to a case where capital punishment is not pursued, which resulted in a cost of 100,000 USD. According to the Palm Beach Post in 2000, in Florida, it costs 51 million USD more than it would to simply put people in prison. However, we also need to look toward what is ultimately more expensive: capital punishment, or life in prison.

  1. B. Capital Punishment vs. Life in Prison

If we are going to be measuring cost in the debate, we need to see that clearly, life in prison is much more expensive than capital punishment in the long run. If we turn toward Death Penalty Focus located in California, taxpayers within California pay 90,000 more USD on death row inmates than the general prison population. This trend is, again, followed by the majority of states. I have already shown an example from Florida in previously, however, I will state again: According to the Palm Beach Post in 2000, in Florida, it costs 51 million USD more than it would to simply put people in prison. Also, if we look at a state with one of the highest execution rates, we can also see the same thing. According to the Dallas Morning news in 1992 as shown on the previously cited fact sheet, it costs three times as much to execute a criminal then to simply put them in a maximum security prison for forty years. Why is this pattern taking hold? Well, if we review the previously mentioned Death Penalty Focus organization in California, they state that the reason that the costs are so high is due to the “large and complex” system set up due to the fact that someone’s life is on the line in these cases. Remember, we are factoring in the cost of death row inmates in prison, court costs, and appellate courts to produce a big number. However, if we were to harness the savings from abolishing capital punishment, we would be able to fund important government programs for the everyday person, such as infrastructure, education, and paying off the national debt. With this in mind, I can only see an affirmative vote.

Contention 2: Does not deter crime

My opponent will inevitably bring up deterrence of heinous crimes as a result of capital punishment. If we turn toward Columbia Law School, we will see a clear explanation of this argument, and why it fails.

“Still others find the evidence of deterrence very fragile and unstable, with estimates of deterrence changing wildly with even the slightest adjustments or modifications either in measurement or statistical methods.”

While my opponent will cite studies showing trends in crime decreasing after capital punishment is introduced, we can’t trust these statistics when there are plenty of other studies showing the converse with a slightly different model. In fact, according to Amnesty International, we can clearly see the converse in the graph they provide shown in the following link.

Let’s look toward the Columbia Law School again, where we can observe another point that my opponent needs to look towards.

“There is no evidence that if aware of the possibility of execution, a potential murderer would rationally decide to forgo homicide and use less lethal forms of violence.

With the current lack of evidence, it is hard to make a generalized statement about the state of capital punishment in relation to deterrence. However, considering the differing evidence with no conclusion, it is quite possible that capital punishment has very little effect on the murder rate. Thus, with no inherent proof that deterrence exists on either side of the debate, we need to weigh something else. If the main argument for the death penalty is that it deters heinous crimes and makes sure that less people are harmed as a result, then that argument falls flat on its face since there is no way of telling which side is correct.

However, I will make one observation. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, in 2014 there were a total of 35 executions, which is down from previous years. However, according to Citylab, recent FBI data shows that violent crime has decreased from previous years as well in a gradual decrease of violent crimes.

Contention 3: Risk of harming innocent people

Let’s face it, there is no such thing as a perfect government system. However, when there is an inherent risk to people we have to reconsider the system entirely and find a better solution.

  1. A. Biases in the system

What most people are unaware of is the inherent bias within the capital punishment system. In fact, if we were to look toward the Death Penalty Information Center, we can see the following:

Defendants with less than $320,000 in terms of representation costs (the bottom 1/3 of federal capital trials) had a 44% chance of receiving a death sentence at trial. On the other hand, those defendants whose representation costs were higher than $320,000 (the remaining 2/3 of federal capital trials) had only a 19% chance of being sentenced to death. Thus, the study concluded that defendants with low representation costs were more than twice as likely to receive a death sentence.” (cited from an Office of Defender Services of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts report in 2008)

This revelation makes us realize the inherent harms of having capital punishment. We inherently target those who do not have the same representation in court due to less defense costs. Those who cannot pay up are sentenced to death without a fair trial. However, the biases do not end there.

The Atlantic in 2014 has shown that race is disproportionate with the amount of people on death row by nearly a factor of 4. This is a disturbing revelation, and also a reason to act. This is confirmed by Amnesty International when they show the Governmental Accountability Office in 1990 has cited “racial disparities” in the capital punishment program since it was reestablished in the 1970s. We also see more recent information from Yale University in 2007 that states that African Americans receive the death penalty at three times the rate of white defendants in cases where the defendants are white. With these inherent biases in the system, can we really assume that we are infallible when it comes to executing criminals? Statistics say otherwise, showing the possibility of executing innocent people.

  1. B. Rate of innocent people killed whom are innocent

Given the information above, is it any wonder that the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences released a report showing the rate of people executed innocently is 4.1% (as cited by Newsweek)? Obviously not. What is quite clear is the fact that the death penalty has brought an inherent problem to the US and needs to be stopped. We need a better system to solve the problem of heinous crimes in America. Whether it be addressing mental health or the ever-present problem of availability of weapons, we still need to recognize a botched system when we see one.

As clearly shown, the system is flawed, so one must vote to affirm the resolution.



Capital punishment should be made mandatory for 19 crimes because God says so, which is to say it is just.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for accepting my debate on such short notice. Rebuttal time!

R1: God’s law

  1. A. Crimes?

My opponent has made a religious argument. However he has yet to explain what crimes deserve the capital punishment in the bible. He simply responds saying that it is God’s law. However, allow me to make a religious rebuttal of my own.

  1. B. My rebuttal to biblical challenge

According to Genesis 9:8- 10, all life is sacred and protecting it is important to God. He then goes on to say that to murder is to affront Him. This clearly shows that simply killing others, whether he/she be a murderer or an innocent victim is against the Bible. So, God’s law has shown the importance of life.

Secondly, let us turn toward John 8:7 where Jesus responds to a group of people stoning someone to death with, “He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” This shows that it is hypocritical to kill someone simply due to someone sinning. After all, we are all sinners.

Third, we need to look toward the New Testament:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:38-42 –

See more at:

Clearly, we need to turn the other cheek. This can also be applied to the issue at hand. Jesus was always conversing and allowing people to learn by example whether or not they were outcasts to society because they were sinners. Also, considering the fact that the Old Testament is continually contradicted by the New Testament in theology as demonstrated, we can’t take it into account since the most recent of God’s law rests in the New Testament.

R2: Biblical context

This is simple. The bible can be figuratively interpreted and literally interpreted which leads to very different impacts. While my opponent may say the “word of God” makes him think this way, let us look toward a different interpretation.

The Bible was written by people trying to interpret a godly figure, which is then interpreted among the ages by many different people. Then, it is translated which may lead to the Bible having a different meaning than the original Bible made so long ago. Thus, we are interpreting for ourselves an interpretation of a godly figure, which is then translated so more meaning is lost. If we were to assume that meaning was lost among the eras of when it was passed down, it would be logical to then assume that a literal interpretation of a document that has lost literal meaning is very likely to have different ideas and laws than the form we have now. However, there is great spiritual understanding in the bible that can also be properly addressed if we take a figurative translation, where maybe the law against homosexuality was to address a problem with a tiny population with stagnant growth as opposed to nowadays where we have a tremendous population. We need to see the bible from the context of when it was written if we are to apply it today, as well as see it as a figurative document that has lost meaning due to multiple translations.

R3: State of debate

My opponent has yet to explain why my reasoning is wrong in my constructive speech.

R4: Not executing people that god wants in status quo

According to your argument, there are 19 crimes that god says should be executed. However, since our country is not a Christian Theocracy, we do not execute the people God wants us too. I am assuming you want homosexuals to be executed as per Old Testament law, but we only execute people who have committed heinous crimes from a secular perspective. Also, since separation from church and state exists through Supreme Court decisions (look at notable examples here: and one of the founding father’s intention (specifically Thomas Jefferson), why should we execute the people that a certain religion wants us too? We clearly see otherwise.

Questions to Consider

Is it not against God’s will to execute innocent people?

Why do we look at today’s debate through a biblical standpoint?

Where are your points showing that Christian morality has to be weighed in today’s debate?

Why haven’t you addressed my political points?



Wow, so much Biblical illiteracy and ignorance on one post.

The issue of what 19 crimes God commands mandatory capital punishment for is not relevant. The fact that He commands capital punishment alone is proof that it is just.

Gen 9 says nothing about all life being sacred or its protection being important to God. What Gen 9:6 teach us is that from the very beginning God commanded man to execute murdered.

In John 8, Jesus is following the letter of the law as to how to deal with those accused of capital crimes. It has nothing to do with hypocrisy.

The NT says obey the OT down to the jot and tittle, including capital punishment. Matt 5:17-19 and Romans 13:3-4.

And the OT is contradicted by the NT only in the minds of the ignorant and the reprobate. Which are you?

And the Bible teaches a unified thing that capital punishment is just, and this notwithstanding the attempts by the ignorant and reprobate to deny its teaching.

Your reasoning is wrong beause it denies th justice of capital punishment.

And, yes, all of the earth is a Christian theocracy, since Jesus is King of king. Thus, we should execute people who God says to execute. And there is no separation of church and state, even assuming such was relevant to this discussion. It is not. BTW, Jefferson had nothing do to with the Constitution.

Try harder to hide your ignorance next time.
Debate Round No. 2


Thanks, will go down the rebuttals is some sort of chronological order.

R1: Genesis does not affirm capital punishment

My opponent claims that capital punishment is supposedly supported by the Bible. However, he inherently missed the point. While I did say that the bible can bring forth understanding, we do not weigh it in today’s round. I have already shown that a literal and figurative interpretation of the Bible is possible, regardless of what school of thought you are from. Remember, the Bible is an interpretation of an interpretation of god’s word, which is then translated into different languages. This means that taking a literal interpretation of the Bible is misguided due to the differences of context. If this seems inherently “ignorant” then I would like proof as to why I am wrong. My opponent has provided my no sources to prove once and for all that he is right, which disturbs me.

R2: Con conceded a point

My opponent has conceded a point by being quiet which has decreased his ability to win. He stated the following:

“Thus, we should execute people who god says to execute.”

However, he has not listed what crimes that should be punished with death. Many people who claim to be a religious claim that sodomy is a “sin” that should be punishable by death. The federal government of the United States has not once executed someone due to their sexuality. Not only this, but the argument you present seems to be contradicting your case as you state that people who disobey God’s law should be killed, which is not what this debate is about. We are debating whether the Federal Government should abolish capital punishment. The entire premise you present, in other words, is meaningless since we are not debating the biblical law, but federal law.

R3: New testament affirms old testament

My opponent offers the following verses as responses to my previous rebuttal:

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

19 Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

I shall break down my response into 2 sub-points

  1. First verse

The first verse I have cited does not prove anything that my opponent has tried to claim. The verse is in reference to the commandments as clearly shown in the bible which I have displayed for you using the verse you wrote in your response. Also, we need to look toward the fallibility of those who wrote the Bible, who are people, of whom the majority probably misinterpreted “God’s will.”

B.Second verse

The second verse has nothing to do with capital punishment, and my opponent has not explained why these apply to the debate. I would like my opponent to also elaborate on what crimes should be considered worthy of capital punishment.

R4: State of the debate

My opponent has used the ad hominem logical fallacy which is described as a logical fallacy that involves someone making attacks against someone rather than the contentions, according to Merriam-Webster.

I quote my opponent for the following:

“And the OT is contradicted by the NT only in the minds of the ignorant and the reprobate. Which are you?”

This is a dangerous habit to fall into. Remember, debate has nothing to do with personal attacks.It is logical and does not involve name-calling, or anger.

Secondly, we look toward the fact that my original points are yet to be refuted, simply being pushed aside for arguments that do not pertain to the topic at hand. My opponent, for example, stated this:

“Capital punishment should be made mandatory for 19 crimes because God says so, which is to say it is just.”

Yet later, he responds as such:

“The issue of what 19 crimes God commands mandatory capital punishment for is not relevant. The fact that He commands capital punishment alone is proof that it is just.”

This is untrue. ViceRegent, with all due respect, do not simply bring up a point only to say it is not important later. You list no evidence to prove this, meaning you did not carry your burden of proof.

You also do not seem to back up your points with support besides your own interpretation of certain passages in the Bible. I have already shown why there are multiple different interpretations of the bible, and why a literal translation is misguided. Thus, you show no evidence.

Clearly, one should vote pro.

If this post is later than a few hours it is because I did the majority of this at school and had to finish it at home.

I await your response.



Actually Genesis confirms that when a man is murdered the murder shall be killed.

I am not sure what point in your deluded mind you believe I have conceded, but the point is and the point you are avoiding is that capital punishment I just. Thus, federal law should follow God's Law to be just. I understand why those such as yourself wish to avoid this topic, but it is true.

Yes, Matt 5:17-19 affirms that all of the Torah is valid and binding in and since the NT. Thus, any differences between the OT and the NT are not legal or moral. You are not too quick on the uptake, are you?

Yes, Romans 13:3-4 affirms that it is the God-given duty to the state to bear not the sword in vain, which is to say execute capital criminals according to His Law (verse 2).

And no, to call you a reprobate is not the ad hominem fallacy. To commit that fallacy I would have to say your argument is wrong because you are a reprobate. I did not. Rather, you have put your credibility on the line by using yourself as a reference. Notice all of the "I"s in your first two posts. When you rely on your credibility, I can attack your credibility. Surely, you have something more than whining?

Your original points are irrelevant in light of the fact that capital punishment is just. And I disagree that I have not carried my burden of proof. Your saying otherwise, notwithstanding.

And it is not relevant that there are different interpretations of Scripture. I am giving you the right one. BTW, the fact that the Bible is rejected (i.e., differently interpreted) by fools does not say anything about the Bible. Your argument here is a non-sequitur.
Debate Round No. 3


R1: Conceded

ViceRegent has conceded the fact that the people who should be killed are the people that God wants killed, not what our Federal Government wants killed:

Thus, federal law should follow God's Law to be just.

The 19 laws that are not listed is actually hurting him now since he has no evidence to prove that the people the federal government executes are different from the people he wants to execute. This is where you have conceded.

R2: Final biblical argument

  1. A. Interpretation

My opponent makes a point:

“And it is not relevant that there are different interpretations of Scripture. I am giving you the right one. BTW, the fact that the Bible is rejected (i.e., differently interpreted) by fools does not say anything about the Bible.

To assume such a thing is absurd. You have no proof as to whether your god exists or whether your interpretation is the correct one. Also, different interpretations of the bible are why we have different religious sectors within Christianity. Unless you are going to make the argument that only you and your sector of Christianity is correct, then you are wrong. Also:

Rather, you have put your credibility on the line by using yourself as a reference.

Yet, you claim that the only interpretation worth following is yours. What makes you such a brilliant Christian theology expert that you can simply cite your own interpretation of the Bible? Better yet, what makes you think that the Bible is even worth considering in the debate when only a select few who cannot prove god’s existence or that the book is not written by people will actually consider your argument? I am doing you a favor by trying to debate by your context, but since you won’t meet my half-way and respond to my original points, you ultimately lose.

  1. B. Non sequitur

Secondly, you have not given me specific proof that a biblical argument is correct. Instead, you claim this:

“Your argument here is a non-sequitur.

This is the definition of non-sequitur:

a statement (as a response) that does not follow logically from or is not clearly related to anything previously said

Let’s look back at the first response from ViceRegent:

Capital punishment should be made mandatory for 19 crimes because God says so, which is to say it is just.”

Does this look familiar? It is literally the same fallacy that ViceRegent has accused me of. You still have not attacked my original points you only attack my “credibility” with name-calling.

Good luck on the final round.



My opponent continues to dodge the issue: capital punishment is just. That is all that matters. By dodging this issue, my opponent list the debase.
Debate Round No. 4
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