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Resolved: The death penalty should be legalized.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/7/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,623 times Debate No: 73075
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)




Resolved: The death penalty should be legalized.

Please accept this debate only if you will take it seriously. I wish to enjoy a good-hearted and intellectual discussion in regards to this topics. First, however, allow me to lay out some framework as to how the debate will operate.

Trolling results in an automatic loss
Forfeiture results in an automatic loss (unless an emergency occurs)
BoP will be shared
No vulgarity
Evidence should be used to give credibility

The rounds will go as follows:
Round 1:
Pro - Rules & Regulations
Con - Acceptance Only

Round 2:
Pro - Opening Statements
Con - Arguments and Rebuttals

Round 3:
Pro - Arguments and Rebuttals, Closing Statements
Con - Arguments and Rebuttals, Closing Statements (NO NEW ARGUMENTS)

Good luck to whomever accepts! :)


I agree the BOP should be shared, and also, if any definitions are used, the other person has the right to challenge the accuracy of the definition.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank my opponent for his hasty acceptance, and agree that definitions are arguable, though I doubt there will be any need for that. Speaking of definitions, it seems the optimal place to begin this debate.

Death Penalty: “Execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court of law of a criminal offense. Capital punishment should be distinguished from extrajudicial executions carried out without due process of law. The term death penalty is sometimes used interchangeably with capital punishment, though imposition of the penalty is not always followed by execution (even when it is upheld on appeal), because of the possibility of commutation to life imprisonment.” [1]

Essentially, the death penalty and capital punishment are the synonymous, and I will use them interchangeably throughout this debate.

Legalize: to make legal; especially: to give legal validity or sanction to [2]

The resolution promotes giving legal validity to capital punishment.

What Crimes Result in the Death Penalty?:

“The capital offenses include espionage, treason, and death resulting from aircraft hijacking. However, they mostly consist of various forms of murder such as murder committed during a drug-related drive-by shooting, murder during a kidnapping, murder for hire, and genocide.” [3]

Allow me to move to the crux of the round.

Morality Argument:

The first and foremost problem with is the morality of such an issue. Though lawmakers and politicians push for such a system, claiming it gives justice to the criminals, it simply isn’t moral. The ideology behind the death penalty, and the mindset that is required to sentence and carry out the death penalty creates deadly cyclical killing. The simple reality is that the advocates for the death penalty assume that killers must be killed. But that formula is flawed. Allow me to demonstrate.

A. All who kill must be killed

B. a killed b

C. x must now kill a to preserve the ideology.

From there, y has the obligation to kill x, z must kill y, et cetera. This deadly cycle (literally) goes against any moral groundings of killings, and the laws of our land. If murders must be punished for killing, executioners must be punished for killing. If continuing with this problematic strategy, a never-ending cycle of murder will ensue, causing harm not only to the original family affected by murder, but continuing along the chain. If murder is a crime (which it is) the death penalty goes against predetermined laws; thus, legalization of the death penalty causes hypocrisy and contradiction of the law.

Inhumanity Argument:

Along with being simply immorality, the death penalty is inhumane. Besides the fact of looming death, capital punishment is often painful for victims, as there are multiple forms of the death penalty. Even though many would argue that lethal injection is the best and least painful form of capital punishment, a study shows criminals can and have been conscious throughout their death. This study comes from the British Journal, The Lancet, where they explain, “43 percent had concentrations of anesthetic in their blood — as measured by medical examiners during autopsies — that would indicate consciousness rather than sedation during an execution.” [4] This is an inhumane form of punishment and torture to any individual. Dr. Leonidas Koniaris, chairman of surgical oncology at the University of Miami asks us the decisive question, “As a society we need to step back and ask whether we want to torture these people or not.” The answer, however, is that we SHOULDN’T torture these people. It is internationally recognized that torture is unacceptable. After World War II, and the persecution and torture of Jews, the international community has generally kept conduct in line in regards to such torture. But now, that protection of torture is being threatened with capital punishment.

“Worthy” Crime Argument:

“The death penalty is only given to those who commit certain criminal offenses.” This is something driven into citizens’ minds, but isn’t always true. Studies have shown that capital punishment has deviated from the previous standards of only SPECIFIC crimes resulting in capital punishment. As of only last year, governments are using the death penalty to punish to combat crime and terrorism as well. The study done by Amnesty International documents, “An alarming number of countries used the death penalty to tackle real or perceived threats to state security linked to terrorism, crime or internal instability in 2014.” [5] What we see is that these penalties are being given for reasons that deviate from the primary and regulated reasons. Even perceived threats can result in an unjustifiable death penalty.

These crimes can also give capital punishment to minors, such as George Junius Stinney Jr., who was 14 when he was executed. Journalist David Edwards describes, “Stinney, the youngest person to receive the death penalty in the last 100 years, was executed on June 16, 1944. At five feet one inch and only 95 pounds, the straps of the electric chair did not fit the boy. His feet could not touch the floor. As he was hit with the first 2,400-volt surge of electricity, the mask covering his face slipped off, ‘revealing his wide-open, tearful eyes and saliva coming from his mouth.’” [6] The article further explains that Stinney could be cleared, revealing that he was never actually guilty of the crime with which he was charged. This evidence cross-applies to the argument of inhumanity (killing someone so young) and forms a new argument, one of innocence.

Innocence Argument:

We continually see cases where individuals are not guilty of the crime they supposedly committed, and in serious cases, we see executions when the “criminal” is guilty. In fact, a study from the University of Michigan Law school shows, “a conservative estimate of the proportion of erroneous convictions of defendants sentenced to death in the United States from 1973 through 2004, [is] 4.1%.” [7] Because capital punishment is death, errors are vital, and very important. Justice systems cannot accurately be described as just when they convict and murder innocent individuals. Thus, without conclusive evidence, governments execute innocent individuals and are not just. Without a just society, abuse is prevalent.

Deterrence Argument:

Though it is a common argument, little credible evidence even suggests that capital punishment deters crime. In fact, the evidence points the other way. In a study published by John J. Donohue and Justin Wolfers, they back up the claim that the death penalty doesn’t deter crime. “Sociologist Thorsten Sellin’s careful comparisons of the evolution of homicide rates in contiguous states from 1920 to 1963 led to doubts about the existence of a deterrent effect caused by the imposition of the death penalty… the National Academy of Sciences to issue a 1978 report which argued that the existing evidence in support of a deterrent effect of capital punishment was unpersuasive… We find that the existing evidence for deterrence is surprisingly fragile.” [8] In reality, deterrence is not a result of capital punishment, and the evidence that supports it is not credible, as evidenced by the report ([8]).

These reasons explicitly explain why the death penalty should NOT be legalized.












The Death Penalty should be legalized as it lowers criminal rate, increases national security, and protects citizens.

It lowers criminal rate, and murder rate. Each execution stops 5 murders. (3) Criminal are afraid of committing the crimes punishable by death penalty (rape murder, murder, kidnap murder, genocide, terrorism, etc) so it will lower the overall crime rate as there are many crimes eligible for punishment by death.

Murderers can be executed, so it's safer for travel or public. Executions, although not a good thing overall, can protect our country and people from getting killed or hurt.

It protects citizens from possible murder, rape, terrorism attack, genocide, etc. Executions are not common and only used for crimes that have been stated to be punishable by execution.

Those are my reasons of why death penalty should be legal.
Debate Round No. 2


"The death penalty should be legalized as it lowers criminal rate, increases national security, and protects citizens"

These claims will be discussed later.

"It lowers criminal rate, and murder rate"
1. I've provided a host of evidence stating otherwise, that the death penalty does not deter crime. Cross apply the Donohue and Wolfers evidence to counter this claim.
2. Evidence further proves it does not deter crime. Michael Booth, journalist for the Denver Post details, "The Death Penalty Information Center points to higher murder rates in states that have the death penalty as proof the sentencing threat does not deter crime." [1] The article goes on to cite Cornell University law professor John Blume, "There's no credible evidence of deterrence." Max Ehrenfreund emphasizes this notion in the Washington Post, stating, "Fagan and two collaborators recently compared murder rates in Hong Kong, where capital punishment was abolished in 1993, and Singapore, where a death sentence is mandatory for murder and other crimes and is typically administered within a year and a half. The researchers found little difference between the two Asian metropolises." [2] The Hong Kong and Singapore study [3] shows little to no disparity between deterrence with or without the death penalty. Thus, the claim that capital punishment deters crime falls. The Washington Post article later references another study, being the one by Donohue and Wolfers.
3. Removal and illegalization of the death penalty can is a superior crime deterrent. The North Carolina Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty explains how this works. "Over the past several years, there has been a steep drop-off in the use of the death penalty. No one has been executed in North Carolina since 2006. The number of death sentences handed down by juries has been declining for years, and in 2012 for the first time, no one received the death penalty in North Carolina. Even prosecutors have declined to seek the death penalty in all but a handful of cases. Yet, according to the N.C. Department of Justice, the state murder rate has declined in the years since executions stopped. Given this fact, there is no credible argument that the death penalty deters crime." [4]
4. No evidence is used to back up his/her claim that each execution stops 5 murders.
5. Criminals are obviously not too scared to commit crimes because of impending doom, primarily due to the fact that evidence shows no downward trend in criminal action as a result of the death penalty.'

"Murderers can be executed, so it's safer for travel or public"
1. Criminal activity will occur regardless of any punishment.
2. Prison time can accomplish the same safety, security, and protection for its citizens without causing obligatory cyclical murder and being inherently inhumane in nature.
3. Using the death penalty to provide security is hypocritical. Trying to keep person a safe by killing person b is contradictory.
4. If a government values safety, use the money used for the death penalty to ramp up prison security and guard. The cost of the death penalty is exceptional. Kelly Phillips Erb of Forbes documents, "In terms of costs, a report of the Washington State Bar Association. found that death penalty cases are estimated to generate roughly $470,000 in additional costs to the prosecution and defense." [5] Instead, this money could be used to heighten security at prisons, thus disallowing criminals to escape. Ultimately, that would ensure the same safety and security for citizens without murder and unnecessary death.

"Executions are not common and only used for crimes that have been stated to be punishable by execution."
1. Supposed criminals are not always guilty of the crimes they have allegedly commited. Cross apply the evidence I brought stating that at a conservative estimate of 4.1% of death penalty victims are actually innocent of their conviction.
2. Convicts die innocently. In fact, the Huffington Post published an article detailing the problem. "The four authors [of the study] reviewed the outcomes of the 7,482 death sentences handed down from 1973 to 2004. Of that group, 117, or 1.6 percent, were exonerated [acquitted, released] But with enough time and resources, the authors concluded that at least 4.1 percent of death row inmates would have been exonerated. In other words, more than 200 other prisoners would have been cleared during those three decades." [6] Specifically, that number equates to 301 (rounded) dying innocently from the death penalty. This irrefutably proves inherent flaws with capital punishment, and exemplifies just how erroneous the system really is. Capital punishment is definitely fairly common (7,482 from 1973 to 2004) and not necessarily only used for specific crimes.
3. Capital punishment use is increasing in variety. Cross apply the evidence from Amnesty Internation, where they explain that more and more countries are using the death penalty to punish even perceived threats. Even if the threats have not been confirmed, these convicts can be served capital punishment.

My opponent has not directly refuted any of my points. Allow me to bring those back up.

Morality Argument:
Capital punishment is immoral because:

A. Ideology as such results in obligatory cyclical murder
B. Capital punishment results in hypocrisy and contradiction of the current law.
C. In short, it's murder.

Inhumanity Argument:
The death penalty is inhumane because:

A. Pain is frequently torturous
B. Torture is often executed while the patient is conscious
C. Torture is internationally unaccpetable; the death penalty must be as well.

"Worthy" Crime Argument:
This argument is fallible against capital punishment because:

A. Capital punishment crimes deviate from standards.
B. Common executions are unjustifiable based on predetermined crimes.
C. Minors are not given a second chance.

Innocence Argument:
Innocence contradicts the death penalty because:

A. Many convicts are killed innocently
B. Justice systems are not just when they don't achieve justice.
C. The lack of a just society allows for abuse to judicial systems as a whole.

Deterrence Argument:
Capital punishment does not deter crime because:

A. Evidence suggests no correlation between capital punishment and decrease in crime rates.
B. Evidence contrastly shows a decrease in crime rates when the death penalty was abolished.
C. Evidence showing a trend of decreased crime in concurrency with capital punishment is fragile and not credible.

Please note these arguments and consider them when voting. Good luck on further rounds! :)




"The torture is inhumane and also performed while concious."

Murderers are inhumane towards victims and perform torture while their victims are awake, so what's the difference?
Prison makes them suffer longer in a poor environment.

"Innocence Argument"

To apply a death penalty, the crime must be investigated throughly. There have only been a few cases of wrong death penalty.

I do not agree with death penalty myself, I just wanted to debate it.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by ColeTrain 3 years ago
16kadams, can you still vote? Even if you don't agree with some of my evidence choice, I'd appreciate your vote, whichever way it goes.
Posted by 16kadams 3 years ago
Cool it is over.

"Zimring, Fang, and Johnson (2010) also suffers from first order data problems. ... The paper"s statistically insignificant estimates may thus arise from a failure to account for this potential bias. ... Presuming that the authors did the best they could with limited data, there remains the key question whether the limited data allow one to draw inferences about deterrence."

The singapore models equate Hhk and Hs (homicide hong kong and singapore), but it makes no sense to do this. They aim to prove this by assuming a coefficient of one, but their data never even comes close to a coefficient of one. That undermines the conclusions.
Posted by 16kadams 3 years ago
I've read most of the deterrence studies :p

Ima read the Zimring one on Singapore that you posted, but time series data is meh
Posted by 16kadams 3 years ago
wat m8
Posted by ColeTrain 3 years ago
Lol.... Wow bruh
Posted by 16kadams 3 years ago
The Donahue study is flawed on so many empirical levels and the NRC/NAS review ignored so much evidence. The Zimring study uses time-series data, which has questionable value. I won't say anything else cause Pro... But you got this Cole lol. I don't think he will read this.
Posted by 16kadams 3 years ago
lol @ Donahue and Wolfers 2006
Posted by CommunistDog 3 years ago
The death penalty institutes fear into the citizens of the country, scaring anyone who wants to attempt to break the law. On the other hand, it seems very cruel and sometimes the people who receive the death penalty were framed. Someone was almost about to receive it until someone proved his innocence only a week before being slaughtered.

I feel the death penalty should not be legalized. It is cruel and against what America stands for.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: The morality arguments on both sides were not properly developed, however con wins the point because Pro fails to refute the point that all executioners become murderers worthy of death if they do their job. Pro failed to refute the innocence argument which pretty much means Con wins. The innocence argument is key to winning--if the DP jeopardizes innocent people, why should it be allowed? Pro's main point is deterrence, but as Con pretty much proved (and preempted the argument) that the statistical evidence behind it is lacking. SIngapore and Hong Kong serve as a rebuttal to the point, and DW refute the evidence saying it is a deterrent. Thus, (1) Death Penalty is unjust, (2) DP will harm innocents, and (3) DP doesn't reduce crime. Con wins.