The Instigator
bobisminecraftname
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Paleophyte
Pro (for)
Winning
15 Points

Should capital punishment be outlawed.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Paleophyte
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/29/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 827 times Debate No: 69127
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (0)
Votes (3)

 

bobisminecraftname

Con

I think that this be shouldn't be illegal if this is then criminals will have no fear of committing crimes.
Paleophyte

Pro


Capital Punishment


Definition: The lawful execution by the state of a convicted criminal as punishment for their crimes.


There are a number of reasons why capital punishment should not be lawful:


Rights Violations


Capital punishment violates the individual's right to life, commonly viewed as the most important human right. This is done unnecessarily resulting in severe psychological torment for the convicted.


Capital punishment violates the 8th Amendment to the US Constitution [1], which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Inmates can languish on death row for decades, often dying of natural causes before they can be executed [2].


Capital punishment is in conflict with Madison's understanding of democracy [3]. In a democracy the majority rule prevails, however the minority shall be respected. In the case of capital punishment, the minority who choose to break the law are eliminated entirely.


Cost


Contrary to popular misconception, the cost of a capital trial, subsequent appeals, bureaucracy, housing an inmate on death row and the execution itself are 10 to 20 times the cost of keeping the same prisoner incarcerated for life [2,4]. Between its reinstatement in 1978 and 2010, California alone has spent $4 Billion on capital punishment but has only managed to 13 executions [2].


Even if this were not the case, killing a criminal in order to save money when the criminal may well have killed for the very same reason is morally indefensible.


Slippery Slope


As much as the slippery slope argument is frequently a fallacy it must be examined in this instance. The cost of starting down this slippery slope is the lives of those who might be convicted for what we do not presently consider capital offenses. The slippery slope argument is not fallacious in this instance because we don't have to simply wonder what might happen. We have historical and contemporary examples of those who have descended this slope.


The French Revolution's Reign of Terror is one of the more memorable historical examples. Some 40,000 people were lawfully executed, many without due process and for as little as suspicion or because their rivals wanted them disposed of [5]. The Salem witch trials are a more domestic example [6].


For contemporary examples, one need only look to Saudi Arabia where one may be executed for crimes including adultery, witchcraft and renouncing Islam [7].


Lack of Deterrent


Evidence for capital punishment as a deterrent is weak at best [8]. This is because the death penalty is so infrequently invoked, leading to two problems. First, it is exceedingly difficult to obtain meaningful statistics when only a tiny number of criminals are ever executed. Second, murders know that even if they are caught their chances of facing the death penalty are extremely small. In order to be an effective deterrent, the death penalty would have to be used much more regularly. Even then, the deterrent of capital punishment would only affect the minority of murders who carefully plan and consider their crime and weight their options.


On the contrary, capital punishment may actually promote violent crime. Criminals who believe that they may face the death penalty have no incentive to give up quietly and may well decide to go out in a blaze of gunfire.


Lack of Utility


Capital punishment is solely retributive and punitive. It serves no redemptive function. Or more simply, you can't rehabilitate dead prisoners.


Worse, some of the most heinous criminals actively seek martyrdom. Terrorists and their ilk might commit worse crimes in an attempt to be martyred by the state, and could gain support and followers as a result of their execution.


Racial and Social Bias


In 2003, African Americans accounted for 12% of the general population, but were 40% of death row inmates and 34% of all executions [9]. This is likely due to a variety of reasons including poor socio-economic conditions increasing the likelihood of violent crime, poor representation at trial, and a racially biased legal system. Tellingly, white Americans are more likely to support capital punishment after being informed that it discriminates against African Americans [10].


By contrast, women make up slightly more than 50% of the general population but less that 2% of death row inmates and just 1% of executions [11].


Wrongful Conviction


Wrongful conviction is probably the single largest objection to capital punishment. This is because of the irrevocable nature of the punishment. Upon discovering a mistake, the state cannot undo an execution, nor can it compensate the deceased. An estimate of the number of inmates on death row who have been wrongly convicted puts this number at 4% [12]. That's 340 of the 8000 death row inmates since the 1970s. During the same period, 138 convicts were exonerated, leaving roughly 200 wrongly convicted prisoners facing execution. These numbers are considered low estimates since many convictions lose incentive to continue fighting them after the initial trial.


A few brief examples include:


Joseph Burrows: Placed on death row by the perjured testimony of the actual killer [13].


Darby Tillis: Placed on death row following five trials based on a single witness, convicted by an all-white jury in a trial presided over by a crooked judge [14].


Johnny Garrett: Convicted of raping and murdering a nun in 1981. Executed in 1992. He was 17 years old at the time of his conviction, mentally handicapped and psychologically unstable[15]. His confession was extracted without counsel present and was never signed. Recent DNA evidence indicates that he was almost certainly innocent but that state of Texas is reluctant to reopen the case [16].


I have provided what I feel to be some compelling arguments against capital punishment. I now turn the floor over to my worthy opponent.



Sources


[1] http://www.law.cornell.edu...


[2] http://www.safecalifornia.org...


[3] http://scholar.harvard.edu...


[4] http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...


[5] http://www.port.ac.uk...


[6] http://salem.lib.virginia.edu...


[7] http://www.theguardian.com...


[8] http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...


[9] http://www.amnesty.org...


[10] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com...


[11] http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...


[12] http://www.theguardian.com...


[13] http://www.theguardian.com...


[14] http://www.darbytillis.com...


[15] http://murderpedia.org...


[16] http://www.law.northwestern.edu...


Debate Round No. 1
bobisminecraftname

Con

bobisminecraftname forfeited this round.
Paleophyte

Pro

I hope that my opponent has not suffered a misfortune.

Lacking any debate from Round 2, the only argument that I have to rebut is my opponent's opening statement that, "I think that this be shouldn't be illegal if this is then criminals will have no fear of committing crimes."

Taken at face value this is simply silly. Capital punishment is never going to act as a deterrent for crimes that it isn't applied to, down to and including shoplifting. The alternative, instituting capital punishment for all crimes, is equally absurd. I might be more receptive to the idea if it had gotten rid of Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: TNG but that's merely a matter of personal preference.

I hope that my opponent won't mind if I reinterpret his opening statement a little to mean that 'If capital punishment was made illegal then criminals would have no fear of committing brutal and violent crimes (e.g.: murder).'

To start, there are a variety of other punishments that are commonly employed for violent criminals, up to and including life in prison without parole. In the absence of capital punishment they will still have ample incentive not to maim, rape and kill.

As I noted in Round 1, there isn't any solid evidence that capital punishment does serve as a deterrent against murder or similar violent crimes that it is applied to [8]. In some cases the murder rate has actually been observed to drop following the abolition of the death penalty [17]. States that have abolished the death penalty typically have lower murder rates [18] and lower rates of murder of police officers [19].

Capital punishment fails to serve as a deterrent for murder for a variety of reasons including:
- The majority of murders are not pre-planned. They occur in the heat of the moment with little or no thought for the consequences.
- Murderers who plan their crimes don't believe that they will get caught.
- The death penalty is rarely sought and even more rarely carried out. Despite 10 to 15 thousand murder convictions in the US annually [20], the number of executions never exceed double digits [21]. Only one conviction in 300 leads to an execution.
- The time between the crime and the execution is years or decades, producing a profound disconnect between the event and the consequence.
- Most felons are unaware of executions. The criminals simply aren't the people attending the executions.

Deterrence cannot be used to support capital punishment as there is no good evidence that capital punishment deters violent crime.


Sources

[17] http://nccadp.org...

[18] http://www.amnestyusa.org...

[19] http://www.deathpenalty.org...

[20] http://www.bjs.gov...

[21] http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
Debate Round No. 2
bobisminecraftname

Con

bobisminecraftname forfeited this round.
Paleophyte

Pro

My opponent has forfeited another round, leaving me with nothing to say. In lieu of the cheerful banter about capital punishment that I'm sure you were all hoping for I leave you with a basket full of kittens.

<a href=http://www.math.ku.edu...; />
Debate Round No. 3
bobisminecraftname

Con

bobisminecraftname forfeited this round.
Paleophyte

Pro

Apparently kittens weren't cute enough to entice my opponent to return. Let's break out the big guns. I give you the mouse lemur.
Debate Round No. 4
bobisminecraftname

Con

bobisminecraftname forfeited this round.
Paleophyte

Pro

Alas, my opponent could not be enticed to return even for baby mouse lemurs. Kindly vote accordingly.

I leave you with something a little different. Nudibranchs!
<a href=http://www.scubadiving.com...; />
Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
bobisminecraftnamePaleophyteTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture
Vote Placed by Zarroette 2 years ago
Zarroette
bobisminecraftnamePaleophyteTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: ff
Vote Placed by Envisage 2 years ago
Envisage
bobisminecraftnamePaleophyteTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: KITTENS!! Oh and Erm, FF.