The Instigator
Con (against)
4 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
2 Points

Should life imprisonment be abolished

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/26/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,846 times Debate No: 36008
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (2)




Reasons why life imprisonment should not be abolished:

1. This is to teach someone a lesson in which what they have done is out of the question in which leads to their eventual punishment of a life sentence. This is to ENSURE that they understand the depth of their sin and wrongdoing whether it be murder, rape, drug dealing or such. Some people just don't get the message and just keep on repeating their crimes in which may affect individuals or whole communities at times.

2. The sinful acts in which the criminal inflicted on the victim may scar/damage or stay within the victim's memory forever. By issuing a life sentence, it is a compensation to the victim for the traumatizing experience in which they had to endure through in which may have psychologically, morally or physically injured them for their entire life time.



Nobody has the right to take someone else's life.Especially a system that is often corrupt and prone to error in judgement.The aim of any judicial system must be to correct the criminal, not to penalize him, as the damage that was done cannot be reversed by the criminal's suffering.

The fact that the severity of the punishment does not act as a deterrent to crime is evident from the fact that criminals have always existed in societies with draconian laws and harsh punishments. Take a look at Saudi Arabia where sharia'ah law is followed.The punishment for theft there is public amputation of the right arm(the actually chop it off in the middle of a plaza). Yet crime is worse than countries like Sweden.
Many crimes are performed in the heat of passion, or as a pure accident. I do not see why anyone would need to be incarcerated their entire lives for that.Thus to make someone truly understand their crimes and to 'teach them a lesson' they need not be imprisoned for life.

Whatever anybody may do to the criminal, the damage is going to stay with the victim nevertheless.This is why the death penalty was abolished.The same can be said about life imprisonment,which i feel is a worse fate than death.The primary aim of the judicial system must be to correct the criminal and make him realize his mistake,not to penalize him.More emphasis must be laid on compensating the victim and correcting, rather than punishing the criminal.

Thus,Life imprisonment does not 'teach' anyone a lesson, nor does it compensate the victim.The only thing it ends up doing is ruining the lives of people who may have made a mistake and condemning them to a life worse than death.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for the opponent's response.

Firstly, I would like to quote the opponent in which they said, "a system that is often corrupt and prone to error in judgement." However, although the legal system may get it wrong there may always be a way out for the innocent. In the last 30 years just in the U.S. over 100 people have been released from a life sentence due to DNA testing and evidence to support that they were innocent.

Although I do agree with the opponent that crimes in which may get someone a life sentence are caused because of a misunderstanding or accident, are all of the crimes resulting to a life imprisonment REALLY accidental or a misunderstanding? Here's a list of crimes in which may lead to life imprisonment if the criminal is not innocent: murder, severe child abuse, rape, high treason, drug dealing, or human trafficking, or aggravated cases of burglary or robbery resulting in death. We can pardon high treason and robbery resulting to death or such as there may be reasons behind those actions whether it may be the criminal is in dept or passion for one's country. BUT, there is no reason for rape in which is purposeful and is done just for the criminal's satisfaction or drug dealing and human trafficking in which is manipulation of OTHER people in NEGATIVE ways just to make themselves a profit. As for severe child abuse, this may be caused because of hate, irresponsibility or just pure evil. It's quite safe to say that these crimes listed and explained are surely not just "heat of passion, or as pure accident."

Moving on wards, figures have revealed that more than 80, 000 crimes are committed in under a year by people who have been RELEASED and have served their sentence however long it may be. Does this really show that criminals change through just a few years in jail. If the figures were constant then this means that more that 219 crimes are committed DAILY by only the people who have been released.

In conclusion, the life imprisonment serves its purpose as a reminder to the criminal that what they have done is unjustifiable, evil, and scars their victim for the rest of their life. The criminals who perform these heinous crimes indefinitely deserve this punishment.


Thank you for sharing your opinion.

Firstly, the fact that the severity of the punishment does not act as a deterrent for the crime has not been refuted.We can see that the existence of life imprisonment has done little to deter the criminals who committed the crimes you enlisted.It does not teach *anyone* a lesson.
Furthermore,the 80,000 crimes you mentioned include relatively petty crimes like theft, assault, battery etc. as it is for these crimes that most criminals are released in a relatively short period.The current aim of the Law is *only* to punish the criminal.Adequate emphasis is not given to rehabilitate him, or to eradicate the underlying causes of crime.If criminals do not change in a few years, it can partly be the failure of the government correctional system too.Crime is a multi-dimensional problem that arises due to various factors like social inequality and ethnic differences.To say that it can be stopped simply through stricter laws is to oversimplify a complex problem.

Not all governments have a corruption free judiciary like the United States.Many governments use Life imprisonment to harass dissidents.Death penalty, and now life imprisonment without parole are laws that give the government power over the individual citizens. and they must be abolished to protect liberty.

I am glad that you have accepted that life imprisonment is wrong for High treason and robbery, now for the others:

Rape has often been used by various governments to frame certain individuals they want to get rid of. Julian Assange , who was charged with rape in Sweden is one such example.The Life Imprisonment option gives overwhelming power to the government to silence critics and dissidents.While I agree that rape is a serious crime that leaves the victim scared for life, i still believe that the aim of the law should be to make the aggressor understand his mistake. Imprisonment does nothing but punish him without him understanding the depth of his crime, resulting in criminals repeating the crime over and over again.

Drug dealing is often indulged in by teens and young adults who don't know better as a means to make a quick buck.It should be combated through effective rehabilitation and provision of employment opportunities.
Once again, many corrupt governments in Mexico and many parts of Latin america regularly plant drugs on civilians to harass them.

Child abusers are mentally depraved and should be give treatment, not imprisonment.

Human trafficking is usually done to force women into prostitution. Banning many of the activities associated with prostitution,while keeping prostitution itself legal is a much better way of combating it.

Those involved in these activities could be imprisoned for a prolonged period of time, but should be given a second chance to regain their freedom if they prove that they have changed.
While conventional methods of punishment such as prolonged imprisonment and community service/labor must be used, efforts should be taken to rehabilitate these criminals to give them a chance to improve their lives, as many of them are forced into a life of crime from a young age. Vocational training and counselling must *also* be given to ensure that they are given a genuine chance to correct themselves. Modern advancements in tracking technology as well as Psychology can be used to ensure that they remain within the Law.

So we see that life imprisonment does not stop crime by being a deterrent, nor does it help the criminal understand why his actions were wrong. While it may punish individuals who are convicted , it does little to prevent crime itself. Also, the damage done to the victim is irreversible,harassing the criminal is not going to get one's loved ones back,Thus the 1st two arguments that you put forward stand refuted
The fact that it can be used as by corrupt governments to condemn innocent people to a fate worse than death makes its eradication necessary.
Debate Round No. 2


DannyFangles forfeited this round.


My opponent has forfeited the last round.I am not sure how to continue as I am new here.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
Yes, sorry -- I clicked "sources rather than conduct for Pro. Fixed.
Posted by Wocambs 3 years ago
Isn't forfeiting a round forfeiting the conduct point?
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
When one side forfeits, the other side should continue to advance arguments. In the last round of the debate, the convention is to not make new arguments or present new evidence. The last round is used to summarize the debate, showing why the debater's arguments were not adequately answered in the debate. It's common for debaters to do nothing after a forfeit, but they should pile on arguments. In this debate, the forfeit just ended the debate a round early.

As to the substance of the debate, criminology has progressed through phases. The purpose of imprisonment was originally punishment as deterrence or retribution. That works for some crimes, maybe white collar crimes. However, it usually doesn't work. The next idea was that imprisonment was for rehabilitation. That works sometimes, but not very often. The current theory is to keep criminals from harming the public for however long they are in jail. That works, but only for the length of incarceration.

I suggest that new debaters search for some of the old debates on similar topics to get ideas on what to argue.
Posted by CynicalDiogenes 3 years ago
Pro has forfieted, but i am not allowed to post my reply, nor has the voting period begun...What shouid i do?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:31 
Reasons for voting decision: The reason why a serial killer who has murdered 20 people is locked up for life is so he won't get out and kill another 20. Con got to the point in R1, and Pro's rebuttal was weak. Pro argued that "most" recidivism is for minor crimes; but obviously people given life are not there for minor crimes. Weak debate, but Con did better. conduct to Pro for Con's forfeit, but no arguments were advanced so arguments were unaffected.
Vote Placed by LevelWithMe 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:11 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct goes to Pro for Con's forfeit. Grammar and spelling errors were made by both parties. These were less abundant in Con's posts. Pro made rebuttals for points Con did not make(life imprisonment is not an effective deterrent, the sentence is only punishing a criminal will not bring a loved one's victims back). Con didn't make a consistent argument. He restated his points at the end of the second round, but did not address why life sentences teach someone a lesson or provide that such a sentence is proper/adequate compensation from society to victims. Both made fact claims, neither provided sources. Overall, the was a poor debate. Pro could have made a stronger argument if he didn't reject the death penalty(using it as an alternative to life sentences). Con could have made a better argument if he took advantage of this, and argued that the life in prison was an adequate alternative to the death penalty, and that Pro was only arguing about prison conditions, not the sentence.