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The Contender
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Resolved: The United States Ought to Abolish the Death Penalty

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/1/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,163 times Debate No: 17727
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




Greetings! I will be defending the position that the USA should abolish the death penalty.

We: The USA

Abolish: To get rid of completely

Death penalty (DP hereafter): To be put to death (i.e. executed) for a crime.


Round 1 is acceptance only.


Voting period will last for 1 month.

Good luck!


I thank my opponent for starting this debate. I accept the definitions provided in his round 1. I look forward to his arguments for getting rid of the DP.
Debate Round No. 1


I want to thank my opponent for accepting this debate.

Contention 1: Execution is inhuman!

C1.1) the Methods of execution is questionable.

By questionable, I mean that it may be immoral as to how the DP is carried out. In theUSA, 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 they are paralyzed. [2]

What does the United Nations have to say about this?

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

Questions for my opponent

  1. TheUnitedState'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 executions 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 death penalty takes innocent lives.

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

Is this really justice? How can we allow this system of failure to continue?

| Questions for Opponent |

  1. What crimes are worthy of death?
  2. Why are those crimes the only crime worthy of death?





I thank my opponent for his round, though request that he redo his sources. Since they were copy/pasted, they didn't not bring over the entire address. I will address each point individually, then follow up with my own argument. But first, some definitions that were not provided.

Cruel [1] - 1. Causing pain or suffering: "I can't stand people who are cruel to animals".
2. Having or showing a sadistic disregard for the pain or suffering of others.

Since definition 1 is too vague to be applied (being arrested can cause pain, therefore it is cruel, and therefore, the government is not allowed to arrest criminals), and so definition 2 must be applied.

Sadistic [2] - deriving pleasure or sexual gratification from inflicting pain on another.

Unusual [3] - Not habitually or commonly occurring or done.

Now, to the arguments.

C1.1) the Methods of execution is questionable.

Starting with the EC, my opponent makes the claim that "the prisoner's eyes often pop out." This is a complete exageration. While it is noted that eyeballs "sometimes" pop out (as admitted by his own quote, not "often"), it is not common, nor is it the reason the blindfold is applied. The blindfold is applied (as with most physical executions, rather than chemical) so that people don't have to look at their eyes while executing. This has been seen with firing squads, hangings, decapitations, and even the LI (though it is a full sheet over their body, not just a blindfold).

For the EC, most cases, a single jolt results in the cooking of the brain, leading to complete, near instant death [4]. While muscle may still spasm from the electric current, that is not a sign that the person is still alive, nor in pain. Once the brain is dead, the rest can do whatever.

For LI, my opponent only listed one of the drugs, not all three. The three are [5] ...
1) Sodium Thiopental (ST)
2) Pancuronium Bromide (PB)
3) Potassium Chloride (PC)

My opponent claims that the dose of ST wears off after 7-10 minutes. I would like to see his source on this (since the sources were copied and pasted, the link does not go to the correct address), as I highly doubt it. There are several flaws with this statement.

1) The dose given of ST is well past the leathal dose as is, so it can't really "wear off." And in fact, a single dose of ST will kill someone in about 10 minutes, as seen with Ken Biros [6].
2) Since the dose of ST is so high, it doesn't wear off as fast as medical doses (which is what most pro-life websites compare to).
3) PC will kill within 2 minutes of injection, so the 7 - 10 minute mark doesn't even matter [5].

What does the UN have to say about this? I don't really care, as this debate is specifically about the US (as defined by my opponent in R1), not the UN.

To my opponent's question to me, no this doesn't sound cruel at all. It actually sounds like one of the most peaceful ways anyone could possibly die. Where the only possible discomfort is that you may have to be poked multiple times to find a vein. Unless the medical team is intentionally poking someone multiple times for their own pleasure, this does not meet the definition of cruel.

C1.2) There is no fool proof method of preventing a botched execution

The "43" number needs to be critically looked at. Here are examples that "death penalty info" labels as "botched" [7].

Frank Coppola - Two electric shocks were administered.
Stephen Peter Morin - Administers needed to seach for 45 minutes to find a vien to insert the needle (he was a massive drug user), but he was killed on first injection.
Randy Woolls - Same as Morin.
Wilbert Lee Evans - Took two shocks to kill.
Rickey Ray Rector - Took a long time to find a vein.

Going through these, most of them were not "botched" as in "failed and had to be redone" but they simply did not go perfectly.

Examples or REAL botched executions would be...
Horace Franklin Dunkins, Jr - The electrodes were not attached properly, and so enough electricity to kill was not possible (only enough to badly hurt).
Jimmy Lee Gray - Gas chamber, everything was done wrong, as the executioner, Barry Bruce, was drunk at the time.

Nearly all of the lethal injection "botches" were not botches. And as such, the majority of the "43" are nothing but an agenda driven website grasping at straws to try to prove its case.

Contention 2: The death penalty takes innocent lives

This is a false statement. The judice system takes innocent lives, not the DP. If a DP person is executed, it is not the DP that did them in, but a justice system that pronounced an innocent person as guilty. Even then, much of the "innocent" that have been executed, are deemed "innocent" by groups looking for them to be innocent (this is much like experimental bias in science). And even then, depending on the group that is claiming "innocent," they only have 10 people listed as "possibly innocent" and only 3 that are known and recognized by the US government. And even these are becoming much rarer as we get better forensic technology (use of DNA and such).

For the questions for me, these don't really matter. Regardless to what crimes I believe should qualify for the DP and which should not, has no stand on the DP itself. Just like I can be asked exactly what crimes I believe should have a 30 day prision stay, and why should no other crime have that? But my answer is not a factor in whether or not we should have 30 day prision stays.

Thank you,

Debate Round No. 2


kohai forfeited this round.


opponent closed their account, nothing more to do.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
partially haha but I do really like reading debates over this topic
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
lol, only because you're doing the same debate.
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
I'll be following this
Posted by kohai 5 years ago
Thank you for accepting, good luck!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by thett3 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit. Ore_Ele was winning this debate anyway.