The Instigator
kohai
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
thett3
Con (against)
Winning
8 Points

Resolved: The USA Should Abolish the Death Penalty

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
thett3
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/28/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,629 times Debate No: 17696
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (46)
Votes (2)

 

kohai

Pro

Death Penalty: Being killed for a crime

Abolish: To do away with; to remove.

First round acceptance only.
thett3

Con

I accept. Good luck to you, Kohai.
Debate Round No. 1
kohai

Pro

I want to thank my opponent for this opportunity to debate this very important subject. Should the United States abolish the death penalty? That is the question I wish to answer in this debate.

Note, from hereafter, Death Penalty will be abbreviated as "DP."

I wish my opponent the best of luck. *handshake*

Contention 1: Execution is inhuman!

C1.1) The Questionabl Methods of Execution

By questionable, I mean that it may be immoral as to how the DP is carried out. In the USA, there are 2 primary methods of execution.

  1. Electric Chair
  2. Lethal Injection
The Electric Chair (EC hereafter)


How does the EC kill? First, the electrocution causes the prisoner's muscles to spasm. This can cause dislocation and bone fractures. The prisoner defecates, tissues swell, and vomiting of blood is common.

In all EC cases, a blindfold is applied. The reason is because the prisoner's eyes often pop out. Their body can emit smoke and in rare cases, may catch on fire.

".the prisoner's eyeballs sometimes pop out and rest on [his] cheeks. The prisoner often defecates, urinates, and vomits blood and drool. The body turns bright red as its temperature rises, and the prisoner's flesh swells and his skin stretches to the point of breaking. Sometimes the prisoner catches fire....Witnesses hear a loud and sustained sound like bacon frying, and the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh permeates the chamber. (Ecenbarger, 1994)" [1]

Lethal Injection (LI hereafter)

How does this kill? Let's take a look.
  1. the prisoner is bound to a gurney.
  2. The LI contains three primary drugs. They are:
    1. sodium thiopental
    2. This is a drug that paralyzes the victim and induces cardiac arrest.
    3. This finally ends the pain by stopping the heart.
The anesthetic that is given first often wears off after about 7-10 minutes. What does this mean? This means that the second drug keeps them paralyzed while their heart is racing and they are in cardiac arrest. They cannot express their pain because of the paralyzation. [2]

What does the United Nations have to say about this?

"No-one shall be subject to torture or curuel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" [3]

Questions for my opponent
  1. The United State's constitution clearly states that we are free and protected from cruel and unusual punishments. Does this sound cruel or what!
C1.2) There is no fool proof method of preventing a botched execution

Since 1982, there have been 43 botched executions! That is 43 bad execution in only 29 years! Let's take a few looks:

Botched Execution 1: James Autery

"Autrey took at least 10 minutes to die after the chemicals began to be injected. Throughout much of those 10 minutes, he was fully conscious and complained of pain. This was caused by the catheters clogging so delaying the transmission of the chemicals. It is also probable that the needle either did not enter the vein or passed through it. When the lethal chemicals enter the muscles instead, they cause considerable pain."

Botched Execution 2: James McCoy


"McCoy had such a violent physical reaction to the drugs (heaving chest, gasping, choking, etc.) that one of the witnesses (male) fainted, crashing into and knocking over another witness. The Texas Attorney General admitted the inmate "seemed to have somewhat stronger reaction," adding, "The drugs might have been administered in a heavier dose or more rapidly." [4]

Contention 2: The risk of killing an inoccent person is too great

Since 1993, 21 cases have been added to the list of wrongful executions [5.]

Is this really justice? How can we let an inoccent person die for a crime that they did not participate in. Isn't it much better if we abolish the death penalty so if we do have a mistaken case that it is reversable?

| Summary |

I have presented a good case that the curret methods of execution is immoral and that killing an inoccent person is too great of a risk.

Back to you, con. I await your opening arguments.


Sources


1. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
2. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
3. http://www.un.org...
4. http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org...
5. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...


thett3

Con

Thank you Kohai. I'm pleased to see that you've presented such a compelling case. As per the agreed rules, I will post my arguments in this round and refute Kohai's in the next.

=Case=

When asked his position on the Death Penalty, President Barack Obama stated that he supported it in cases where "the community is justified in expressing the full extent of it's outrage." Seeing as I agree, I negate the resolved.

C1. Capital Punishment saves innocent lives.

SPA: Capital Punishment keeps a killer from striking again.

There have been many instances in our justice system where a murderer has reoffended, in fact a study from the U.S. Department of Justice finds that of prisoners released in 1994, 1.2% of those convicted of homicide were arrested for another homicide within three years of their release.[1]. This holds especially true for our most dangerous criminals, in 2009 8.6% of those on death row had a prior homicide conviction. Over 5% of those on death row committed their capital crime while in custody or during an escape.[2] This shows that killers can, and do reoffend even while imprisoned!

There are also many specific examples, such as Kenneth Mcduff. In 1966 a Texas jury ruled for him to die in the electric chair for his brutal murder of two boys and a girl. However his sentence was commuted to Life Imprisonment when the Supreme Court struck down the Death Penalty. Mcduff was later released, and ended up killing at least 9 more people. Thankfully, he was executed by lethal injection in 1998[3]. He will never kill again. Had he been executed the first time at least 9 innocent lives would've been saved.

Another example is the recently executed Lee Andrew Taylor. While serving a life sentence for his brutal beating and murder of an elderly couple Taylor fatally stabbed another inmate after a "racial tension" incident occurred[4]. Thankfully, he was executed by Texas in 2011, never to kill again.

Yet another example comes from Clarence Ray Allen. Allen was serving a sentence of life without parole for murder, when he conspired with his fellow inmate Billy Hamilton to kill the witnesses for his crime. When paroled, Hamilton tracked down the witnesses and killed one of them, along with two bystanders[5]. Allen was, thankfully, sentenced to die for this new crime, and executed by the state of California in 2006.

These are only some of many examples of murderers who later murdered again. In many cases, anything less than the Death Penalty simply isn't good enough. The recidivism rate for an executed murderer is 0%.

SPB: Capital Punishment has a deterrent effect.

Many different studies provide many different results, some examples:
  • Studies from Emory University stating that each execution prevents between three and eighteen murders. [6]
  • A 2006 study from the University of Houston, stating that the Illinois moratorium on the Death Penalty led to 150 additional homicides [6]
  • A University of Colorado at Denver study showing that for each execution five muders were prevented.[7].

Raw statistics also support the deterrent effect. Take the state of Texas for example:According to JFA (Justice for All), the Texas murder rate in 1991 was 15.3 per 100,000. By 1999, it had fallen to 6.1—a drop of 60 percent. Within Texas, the most aggressive death penalty prosecutions are in Harris County (the Houston area). Since the resumption of executions in 1982, the annual number of Harris County murders has plummeted from 701 to 241—a 72 percent decrease.[8]

Or nation-wide:

By the beginning of the 1990s, however, states that wished to reimpose the ultimate penalty had fought their way through the endless thicket of appeals and restrictions imposed by the courts. In 1991, 14 murderers were executed while 2,500 waited on death row. By 1993 the figure had risen to 38 executions, then 55 in 1995, and 98 in 1999, a level not seen since the 1950s. At the same time, murder rates began to plummet—to 9.6 per 100,000 in 1993, 7.7 in 1996, and 6.4 in 1999, the lowest level since 1966. To put the matter simply, over the past 40 years, homicides have gone up when executions have gone down and vice versa. [9]

These are just some of many examples showing the deterrent effect. As Researcher Karl Spence from of Texas A&M University states (speaking about the moratorium on Capital Punishment from 1972-1976):

"While some death penalty abolitionists try to face down the results of their disastrous experiment and still argue to the contrary, the...[data] concludes that a substantial deterrent effect has been observed...In six months, more Americans are murdered than have killed by execution in this entire century...Until we begin to fight crime in earnest by using the death penalty, every person who dies at a criminal's hands is a victim of our inaction."

Observation 1: While the argument that an innocent could be executed is a very compelling one, the murders committed by prior offenders and the deterrent effect of Capital Punishment outweighs this small risk.

Observation 2: Any and all moral arguments are outweighed by the United State's obligation to protect innocent life.

C2. The Death Penalty is a better punishment than Life without Parole.

SPA: Life without parole does not always mean life.

If the Death Penalty is abolished, the next thing to go will be life without parole. Already some European countries like Norway, Greece, Portugal and Spain have abolished it [10]. There is already a movement to abolish life without parole in the United States for juveniles and even for adult offenders! [11][12]. While no one can truly know if these movements will gain traction, the evidence in Europe speaks for itself, sentences for murder in Europe are much lighter than those in the United States.

The law can also change, take for example the tragic case of Pamela Moss: "In 1962, James Moore raped and strangled 14-year-old Pamela Moss. Her parents decided to spare Moore the death penalty on the condition that he be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Later on, thanks to a change in sentencing laws in 1982, James Moore is eligible for parole every two years"[13]

Laws change, Governors change, sentencing changes, and people forget the past. The only way to truly know if a murderer will not ever be released is to execute them. Parole boards are not perfect, look to the McDuff case I've previously mentioned.

SPB: Prisoners view the Death Penalty as a harsher punishment than Life without parole.

One argument against the Death Penalty is that it does not force criminals to truly pay for their crime. While at first this seems to be a compelling argument, the evidence speaks against it. Criminals have the right to waive the appeals on their death sentence, very very few do. Executions in 2011: 25 so far, 1 waived appeals. Executions in 2010: 46, 1 waiver. Executions in 2009: 52 executions, 2 waivers. Executions in 2008: 37 Executions, 3 waivers.[14]. Nearly 96% of those executed in the past four years have fought to escape their sentence.

Conclusion:

The death penalty undoubtebly saves innocent lives through prevention, and evidence strongly suggests deterrence. As a society, we have a moral responsibility to use the ultimate penalty for the most serious of crimes. Thus I respectfully urge you to vote Con.

Sources:

1. http://bitURL.net...
2. http://bitURL.net...
3. http://bitURL.net...
4. http://bitURL.net...
5. http://bitURL.net...
6. http://bitURL.net...
7. http://bitURL.net...
8. Lowe, Wesley. "Consistent and Swift Application of the Death Penalty Reduces Murder Rates."
9. Tucker, William. "Capital Punishment Reduces Murder Rates."
10. http://bitURL.net...
11. http://bitURL.net...;
12. http://bitURL.net...
13. http://bitURL.net...
14. http://bitURL.net...
Debate Round No. 2
kohai

Pro

Thank you, once again for your arguments.

" kohai better not forfeit my debate with him."

I am sorry but I have to forfeit

(SORRY, I was too tempted!)

RC1) As I proved, the DP also takes inoccent lives!

RSPA) I wish to direct your attention to the source that my opponent used. According to his first source, 70% of theives are re-offenders. Therefore, based on his logic we should kill theives.

Murders have the lowest re-offending rate of any criminal. Therefore, if murders should be killed because they can re-offend, anyone can and thus should be killed.

Under that logic, I should be killed since I have speeded multiple times. Killing the speeders will surely save more lives!

RSPB) My opponent claims that the DP is a deterance. I contend that it is NOT. According to a recent survey, 87 precent of criminologist said that it is not a deterrent and nothing will change by abolishing the DP [1]

In fact, I wish to direct your attention to source number 2. This was a graph done between the years 1993-2009. According to this, states without the DP decreased in homicide, while states with the DP increased in homicide.

Another simple fact is that when someone is comiting a crime, they do not think about the consequences.

RC2) This is a circular logic that is a logical falacy of the slippery slope. Furthermore, I contend that if a prisoner has truly been reformed and can be released back in society and he can support himself, there is no reason to keep him in prison. However, if he has not, then we need to keep him behind bars.

If punishment is the reason for prison, and not reform; then based upon con, we should give life without parol.

Sources
1. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
2. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
thett3

Con


First, I will refute kohai's arguments. If I have characters remaining, I will defend my own.

=The Resolution=

Kohai has defined (and I agree with), abolish to mean to do away with. So if I can show that in general, we ought not abolish the death penalty, you vote Con. If I give even a single example where the DP is the ideal form of punishment, you also vote Con because that shows we should not completely do away with it. Now, onto refutation!

C1. Inhumanity


Kohai begins by trying to show the current methods of execution to be cruel. While I will refute this, and show how I outwiegh, this is also non-topical. Why? Simply because Kohai did NOT set the framework of this debate to be over the status quo. Rather it is over the DP in general. Now, since this has been established I would like to indroduce a new method, as advocated by U.K. politician Michael Portillo.[1] Nitrogen asphyxiation. This is a completely painless, and seemingly botch-proof method. Here's a description of it:

"When humans breathe in pure nitrogen, they exhale carbon dioxide without resupplying oxygen. Nitrogen is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that constitutes approximately 78 percent of the Earth's atmosphere. As such, the subject would detect no abnormal sensation. This leads to asphyxiation without the painful and traumatic feeling of suffocation."

So painless is this death, that often times individuals die from this...without even noticing that they are dying.

This is a better and more humane method of execution, and it's up to kohai to find the flaw in it. Otherwise, his entire first contention is gone.

EC

Kohai's attempted to show the EC as painful. Firstly, the EC is a method of execution that has fallen out of favor, for the very reasons he has elaborated on. Secondly, are we really to concern ourselves with this? Yes, if we must take a life I would prefer to do it in the least painful way possible, but given the momumental benefits brought forth by the DP as elaborated in my case, the prisoners suffering has to be the least of our worries. The DP keeps killers from striking again, and as such the only possible way Kohai could outweigh this is to show moe innocents killed via execution than via re-offense, which he has not done (more on that later.) Honestly, I find it quite ironic that many DP opposers focus so much on the pain of the offender, yet so little focus is given to what truly matters, innocent life. Please judges, do the humane thing and realize that while we should try to minimize suffering, said suffering must be our last priority.

LI

Kohai says that the anesthetic drug wears off in 7-10 minutes. I see no reason to dispute that. However that does not constitute inhumanity from Lethal Injection. Indeed, death usually occurs for those given lethal drugs within 7 minutes.[2] For the cases in which it DOESNT kill them that fast, it is a botched execution which I will discuss later. However Kohai has not proven LI, when used properly, to be inhumane. Also when the constitutionality of this method came into question, it was upheld[3]. Surely the Supreme Court and the attorneys involved in the case know volumes more about LI than Kohai or I ever will.

Botched

Kohai has given some examples of botched executions. First off, he has argued no impact. Yes it is unfortunate that this has to happen, but to claim that this constitutes the DP to be cruel and unusual is to claim that life w/o parole is cruel and unusual because of things that are not supposed to happen such as prison rape, sadistic guards, ect. Kohai is trying to get us to do away with the ultimate penalty based on a rare exception to the rule, which is foolish. Furthermore, I have given a better method of execution that will by-pass this entire contention.

C2. Innocence

Kohai shows us that "21" innocents have been executed in the past 18 years. Umm, no. Not a single one of those people have been pardoned by a court after death. Kohai wants us to take death penalty information center's opinion over the guilty verdict of the court supported by the judge, governer of the state, district court, board of paroles and pardons, and the Supreme Court itself. I will take the veridict from people who actually know about the case over some writings on the internet ANY day. I brought this up with him during cross examination in the comments section, and he continually dodged the question. As such, we can presume that this is extremely harmful to his contention and until he gives an actual, court reecognized, example of an innocent this point simply falls.

=Defense=

C1

SPA

kohai says that since thieves re-offend at a higher rate than murderers, we should execute all thieves. I understand that this is a debate, and that it's his job to poke holes in my logic, but I truly do hope that Kohai has the moral insight to distinguish theft from murder. Theft is not as destructive to society, and to the family of the victim as murder, and thus does not deserve the same punishment. Conversly, how are we to take murder as a crime seriously, if the punishment is not equally as serious?

He also says "killing the speeders will surely save more lives!" .....ok. Let's think about that for a second. Killing a speeder results in a death unjust by any standards, and it would also end more innocent lives than it would save because speeding does not warrant an execution.

SPB

Kohai gives an example that 87% of criminologists believe the DP does not deter. Yet 13% of them DO. Obviously, this shows that there is room for debate on deterrence. As such, if there is a chance the DP deters than we have a moral obligation to perform it. If we execute and the DP does not deter, we have a bunch of dead murderers. If we fail to execute, and the DP DOES deter, we have the blood of innocents on our hands. Surely the just action would be to risk the former, and not the latter. Furthermore, I have given statistical evidence, studies, and logical analysis. Kohais appeal to authority cannot outwiegh this.

He claims " According to this, states without the DP decreased in homicide, while states with the DP increased in homicide."
Looking at his source, that is quite simply false. In both types of states, homicide has decreased. I believe that Kohai was trying to imply that states w/o the DP have lower murder rates. unfortunately, this is not comparing apples to apples, to use the common phrase. When assessing the use of the DP as a deterrent, it can only be observed by an individual state comparison. If we really want to compare two different things, I will point out the fact that Saudi Arabia, which has a swift and certain DP has a much lower crime rate than the US.

Also TURN: Kohai's graph shows a significant decrease in homicide since 1994 in DP states. Since the passing of the DP act of 1994, implementation of the DP has been much swifter and simpler.

Lastly he says that the "simple fact" is that killers do not think of the consequences. I would like the judges to consider the phrase pre-meditated murder when considering this objection. Logic tells us that if there was no penalty for murder, murder rates would be higher. So it would stand to reason that the harsher a penalty for a certain crime is, the less likely it is to be committed.

C2.

This was essentially dropped, and thus I extend it. Kohai contends that SPA is a slippery slope fallacy. It isn't exactly a fallacy if the slope exists. I have given evidence for this, which he has dropped. He also argues that sometimes there is no reason to keep someone in prison at times.

TURN: This proves that the mentality for abolition of life w/o parole exists. The McDuff evidence tells us that parole boards often make mistakes and killers strike again. I will link an entire list of 50+ paroled murderers who struck again. [4].

I strongly urge a Con vote.

Sources:

1. http://bitURL.net...
2. http://bitURL.net...
3. http://bitURL.net...
4. http://bitURL.net...
Debate Round No. 3
kohai

Pro

kohai forfeited this round.
thett3

Con

Extend all arguments, vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
thett3

Con

Extend all arguments, vote Con.

Also here's a funny/cute video:
Debate Round No. 5
46 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
It's alright, I'm just glad that you returned from the dead.
Posted by kohai 5 years ago
kohai
sry con!
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
this is too bad. Ore_Ele how was I doing so far in your opinion?
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
I just noticed that too on my debate with him...
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
damnit, his account is deactivated
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
lol, only because you're doing the same debate.
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
Basically what I'm saying is, as long as Hitler still live remaining Nazi's would fight for him, so how can we justify more violence just to keep such a despicable person alive?
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
1. ....Hitler literally had an entire country to attack the prison and fight to release him. Even if they would fail, innocent lives would surely be lost fighting them off. How can you possibly justify that?

Majority can be wrong, obviously. But unless you show WHY they're wrong, than we must value their opinion above yours. And I will respond to that if you ever show me an executed innocent. Exonorated people do not count because they were not executed, and only show that our current appeals system works.
Posted by kohai 5 years ago
kohai
I just said, build a prison in a remote location and put him, along the other genocidal freaks there.

Appeal to majority. Majority can be wrong. Also, what if I do show you cases where executed people were exonorated or admited inocent. Also, people who were exonorated on death row, why don't they count?
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
Yes, most people do disagree and unless you have iron-clad reasoning behind your opinion, it shouldn't be valued over the majorities.

Also, it's not an appeal to emotion, it's an appeal to logic. Hitler had literally tens of thousands of troops to fight for him, and millions of fanatics who would also fight for him (some even on allied soil.) So again I ask, what would you propose doing with AH?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
kohaithett3Tied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Via Pro forfiet.
Vote Placed by BlackVoid 5 years ago
BlackVoid
kohaithett3Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Obvious