The Instigator
Con (against)
10 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

Resolved: The US should abolish the death penalty

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/1/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,446 times Debate No: 21640
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (2)




We are not arguing:
other DP systems, only the US one
8th amendment


Death penalty:

Capital punishment

United States of america

We are arguing the current system of the DP, not any others.

first round acceptance/definitions/clarifications
round 2 opening cases, no refutation.
Round 3 refutations defense of arguments for pro
Round 4 refutations defense of arguments closing arguments.
8000 characters


Looking forward to debating.

Debate Round No. 1


C1: The deterrent effect of the DP (death penalty)

We must first look at deterrence theory. "Deterrence is a theory from behavioral psychology about preventing or controlling actions or behavior through fear of punishment or retribution. This theory of criminology is shaping the criminal justice system of the United States and various other countries." [1]

This means more harsh punishments = deterrence. This is a gateway to my next argument:Many studies count that the DP saves 3-18 lives every execution. [2] Science does draw a conclusion, the DP saves lives in turn deterring crime. [2] Another study actually cited the DP each implication saves 74 lives. [3] Other studies show each DP usage saved 5 lives in 2003. [4] When Illinois had a moratorium, crime rose and 140 more murders occurred. [5] One study was done to prove an original study, they found a direct deterrence effect from the DP. [6, 7] This shows when the usage of the DP increased murder decreased. [8, 9]

The DP deters crime.

C2: The accuracy of the DP

The examples of innocent executions are rare. Only one possibly happened in 2004 (recent times.). [10] Also these are POSSIBLY innocent, we can never prove their innocence. There is a lot of doubt even that inncent people in the US are actually executed! [11] and these suposed innocent cases are very rare. [11] When there is a case that someone is innocent they are pardoned before, thats why we have the appeal system today. [11] So if there is reasonable doubt they get released, and they generally do. The risk of executing an innocent is very rare. DNA testing is old and a refined technology and is fairly accurate. [12] DNA testing almost always is correct and is accurate enough to dtermine people guilty. [13] Also people must face a jury of 12 and have no reasonable doubt before being found guilty. [14, 15] Hundreds of executions have been committed, and only 67 proclaimed possibly innocent. [16] That means the DP is very accurate.

----> Concusion <----

The DP should not be banned, and it is a deterrent and is accurate. There are other arguments that may be used in rebuttals later, but this is good for now. The DP should be allowed. VOTE CON

Sources: [1] [2] [3] [5]
Naci H. Mocan and R. Kaj Gittings, "The Impact of Incentives on Human Behavior: Can We Make It Disappear? The Case of the Death Penalty," National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 12631, October 2006. [6] [7] [8]
United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. "Number of persons executed in the United States, 1930-1997." [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16]


The US needs to abolish the Death Penalty.

Why, you may ask.

Does a person's race affect the likelihood of him/her receiving the death penalty?
>Despite the fact that African Americans make up only 13 percent of the nation’s population, almost 50 percent of those currently on the federal death row are African American. And even though only three people have been executed under the federal death penalty in the modern era, two of them have been racial minorities. Furthermore, all six of the next scheduled executions are African Americans.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s own figures reveal that between 2001 and 2006, 48 percent of defendants in federal cases in which the death penalty was sought were African Americans…

To the NAACP, the biggest argument against the death penalty is that it is handed out in a biased, racially disparate manner.”
(From the "The federal death penalty, like its application in the states, is used disproportionately against people of color. Of the 18 prisoners currently on federal death row, 16 are either African-American, Hispanic or Asian."
(From the American Civil Liberties Union)

Does a person's income affect the likelihood of him/her receiving the death penalty?

"Nearly all of the 3,500 Americans awaiting execution on death row today have low-income backgrounds"

(From the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP))

Is life in prison without parole a better option than the death penalty?

"The death penalty costs more, delivers less, and puts innocent lives at risk. Life without parole provides swift, severe, and certain punishment. It provides justice to survivors of murder victims and allows more resources to be invested into solving other murders and preventing violence. Sentencing people to die in prison is the sensible alternative for public safety and murder victims’ families."
(From the American Civil Liberties Union)

"The death penalty never brings back the victims of violent crime, but it makes all of us killers by proxy--and gives our government the ominous power to decide which citizens may live and which citizens may die."

(Quote by Tom Head)

These are some excerpts from different sources that you should look at.

Debate Round No. 2


Extend arguments.


---> My opponent claims that the DP is racist. Here is a graph:

see #1 source.

This shows the majority of people executed are white, this makes sense though as they are the majority. In the current people on death row, 44% are white, 41% are african american. [1] This system doesn't seem racist. Another estimate says 48% of people executed are white, 40% black, 9% hispanic. [2] The right to a fair trial and other US supreme court rulings have stuck down the bias, the system now it totaly fair. [2]

---> blacks benefit the most from the DP

Studies show that 1 white is saved by the DP each usage, 1.5 balcks, and 0.5 people from other races. [3, 4] This is an average hence the decimals. This disproves racism.

~LWOP comparisons~

---> My opponent claims and presses the cost arguemnt. I will not use the traditional DP costs less, I will use another common argument. Justice. Justice is where the punishment fits the crime, you cannot have a price tag on justice. Justice in this case means giving the punihment that the person who did it deserves. [5] Keeping order through deterence, saving lives, and justice has no price.

---> My opponent then cites evidence that says people on LWOP do not kill. LWOP actually degrades over time. Many people get let out on LWOP (pardons) , or parole is given. [6, 7] This is one flaw that means hey can kill people if they get out. Also the longer they live the more of a chance they will kill inmates or prison guards. [6, 3] LWOP is not a good option.

---> My opponent then says it never brings back the victim: True. But it deters crime and also serves the crime better. [6] It provides closure for the victims families for they actually see that the eye for an eye is actually happening, not sitting in cell watching TV. [8]


I will add on to the deterence argument, with one simple graph.


green = excecution, red = murder. DP increases usages save lives.

----| Conclusion |----

The DP saves lives, deters crime, and is better then LWOP. VOTE CON. [1] [2] [3]
Joanna M. Shepherd, "Murders of Passion, Execution Delays, and the Deterrence of Capital Punishment," Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 33 (June 2004), pp. 283-321. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]


As my position say, the United States should abolish the death penalty.

My opponent has showed a graph saying that only 56% of whites and 35% of African Americans where put to death by the death penalty.

Now let's look at the current death row. race chart 3
As you can see, the population of African Americans that are on the death row has increased 6%

That's not all. Take a lot of this graph:

(Source #2 )

The population of there are way more White people in the United States than there are African, at almost 5 times more.
This proves that the Death Penalty executers are raciest.

My opponent says that you cannot put a price tag on justice. Yes, we need to have those people to not be associated in another crime, but, there are families out there. For example, would you sacrifice your mother for doing something that she couldn't help doing? I wouldn't. After being so close to death, she might as well learn from our mistakes. That's what prison does for use. If that's not enough, you might as well send her to rehabilitation camp. Other then that, you have o hire physicians and doctors, people who would be paid just to stand there and murder that person.

My opponent says that the Death Penalty deters crime. The answer? No, the death penalty does not deter crime.

"[T]here is no credible evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than long terms of imprisonment. States that have death penalty laws do not have lower crime rates or murder rates than states without such laws. And states that have abolished capital punishment show no significant changes in either crime or murder rates.

The death penalty has no deterrent effect. Claims that each execution deters a certain number of murders have been thoroughly discredited by social science research. People commit murders largely in the heat of passion, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or because they are mentally ill, giving little or no thought to the possible consequences of their acts. The few murderers who plan their crimes beforehand -- for example, professional executioners -- intend and expect to avoid punishment altogether by not getting caught. Some self-destructive individuals may even hope they will be caught and executed."

From the The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

"A number of papers have recently appeared claiming to show that in the United States executions deter serious crime. There are many statistical problems with the data analyses reported. This article addresses the problem of 'influence,' which occurs when a very small and atypical fraction of the data dominate the statistical results. The number of executions by state and year is the key explanatory variable, and most states in most years execute no one. A very few states in particular years execute more than five individuals. Such values represent about 1 percent of the available observations. Reanalyses of the existing data are presented showing that claims of deterrence are a statistical artifact of this anomalous 1 percent."

"Richard Berk, PhD, Professor of Criminology and Statistics at the University of Pennsylvania"

This shows that the death penalty does not deter crime.
Debate Round No. 3


I am still forced to extend C2.


R1: Racism
----> Your graph didn't work
----> Present the arguments dont just link them, neither one of the graphs worked. Therefore no argument.
----> Only 2% of white murderers and 2.5% of black ones get executed. This shows its fair. [1]

Due to the fact african americans kill more it is logical blacks are excuted more often (according to your stats).The DP is not racist even if your stats are true as blakcs commit more homicides. And if my stats are true it is still not racially biased. My opponent cites that the death row populaiton currently has more blacks. My graph above refutes this. There are obviously going to be more african american inmates on death row as they murder more!

R2: Cost

Your refutation makes no sense. You cannot put a price tag on justice though. The cost is also depending on the case. Also, the DP acts as a barganing clip that makes defendants scared and plea guilty, hence in some cases saving costs. [2, 3] Further more this info (all of her info almost) is from the ACLU, the most biased source ever. So back to barganing clip. They plead guilty then avoiding trial from ever happening! [2, 3] This eans in some cases it is much cheaper. SO it may balance out. [2] Further more its expensive because the system we use. [3] Also certian LWOP cases cost 1.6 billion dollars, more costly then the DP. [3, 4] Other estimats say it is possible the LWOP costs the same or more than the DP. [5] Average LWOP people stay in jail for 40 years, each year costs 50,000$. [5]

----> Cant price justice
----> The DP may even avoid the costs of trial
----> Some studies show LWOP is more expensive
----> When states ban the DP their trial costs don't change. [5] (hinting the cost is similar)

R3: The DP deters crime

There goes the ACLU. Anyway my opponents quote claims there is no evidence that is credible that says the DP deters crime. Let's first define credible: offering reasonable gronds to be belived. [6] Basically accurate soruces in this case. What if I told you the goverment thas graphs proving my point?

sources: and:

United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. "Number of persons executed in the United States, 1930-1997." and United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

"Homicide rates from the Vital Statistics."This evidence right here seems credible to me. The majority of the studies conducted on the DP and crime shows that the DP saves 3 - 18 lives. [7]

Some early reasearch (like 1970s) was disputable but was reafirmed twice. [8, 9, 10] Using state evel data the DP dettered single murders to large extents. [8, 11] When the surpreme court ended executions temporarily murder rates rose tremedously. [8, 12, 5] A imilar study showed the DP saves 18 lives. [8, 13]My point is the DP saves lives, and saying ALL OF THESE STUDIES are non credible is, well, illogical. "The media is a bit Johnny-come-lately in recognizing all the research that has been done on the death penalty over the last decade, with nine of the 12 referenced academic studies by economists finding that the death penalty saves lives." - John Lott

---> Conclusion <---

I have refuted all of my oponents points, and proven her arguemnts either false or fallicous. The DP is a great punishment that should be used in certian circumstances. I urge a CON vote.

Sources: [1]
"The Death Penalty and Plea Bargaining to Life Sentences" Kent S. Scheidegger [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]
Isaac Ehrlich, "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Reply," American Economic Review, Vol. 67, No. 3 (June 1977), pp. 452-458 [9]
Stephen K. Layson, "Homicide and Deterrence: A Reexamination of the United States Time-Series Evidence," Southern Economic Journal, Vol. 52, No. 1 (1985), pp. 68-89. [10]
Robert B. Ekelund, Jr., John D. Jackson, Rand W. Ressler, and Robert D. Tollison, "Marginal Deterrence and Multiple Murders," Southern Economic Journal, Vol. 72, No. 3 (2006), pp. 521-541.[11]
Hashem Dezhbakhsh and Joanna M. Shepherd, "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Evidence from a 'Judicial Experiment,'" Economic Inquiry, Vol. 44, No. 3 (2006), pp. 512-535. [12]
Hashem Dezhbakhsh, Paul H. Rubin, and Joanna M. Shepherd, "Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence from Postmoratorium Panel Data," American Law and Economics Review, Vol. 5, No. 2 (2003), pp. 344-376. [13]


I don't know why my graphs didn't load, but the death penalty should still be abolished.

I will restate my argument.
^ Go to the last graph. Then you can see that 43% of the people who are white are going to be executed. 41 percent of the people are African Americans.
The bar graph on this link describes the the percent of each race that are living in the United States.

As you can see, 64% of the population of the United States is White, and 12% is African American.
If you compare both graphs together, you can see that more African Americans are going to be put on the death row than Whites.

The Death Penalty still doesn't deter crime.

The U.S has the highest number of crimes. There are people who commit a crime because of someone else's belief or race. Race related crime will never be stopped even with the death penalty, because there are those whose beliefs are such that no other race has the right to exist.

There is no deterrent to murder at all nowadays Most killers are unlikely to serve more than 10 years and a lot will serve even less.

We now have so many cruel deaths are pleaded as manslaughter and a manslaughter used to get a sentance of at least 7 years. Then, there are always the cases that vicious killers get suspended sentences. Really it's nothing to do with capital punishment and all to do with no punishment at all for most.

It would be reasonable to conclude that many people would not have been murdered, just because they knew about the Death Penalty and it was in place, however, as you can see from my opponent's graph, this information came from the 20th century. Times had changed. Now its just easier to go out, buy some drugs, on once you're drunk, would you stop to think? Nope! You practically wouldn't even control yourself and the next thing you know, you're on the death row.

To me, I would rather go to jail and learn from my mistakes than to be controlled to not do what I want. At least I'll be able to go through a process call Rehabilitation.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by 16kadams 6 years ago
Crap I didn't mean extend args :p. I'll clear that up later.
Posted by 16kadams 6 years ago
they glitched so I was brief
Posted by vmpire321 6 years ago
woah, ur args is short this time.
Posted by 16kadams 6 years ago
remember 1st round acceptance
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by phantom 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro mainly focus's on weak arguments. The racism card wasn't at all convincing too me, and con pointed out that african americans murder people more often and also provided evidence that the dp saves more african american lives than whites. Both sides provided evidence for deterrence but con's had more credible backing.
Vote Placed by 1dustpelt 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Con proved that the death penalty is sometimes justified. Con had more sources.