Should the Death Penalty be Reinstated in the United States
Yes, actually, I would like those who have shown genuine remorse for their crimes to rejoin society. I’d like to thank my opponent for offering his first constructive argument. My response will be much longer and in depth, however my opponent has left the restriction to 8,000 characters so I feel I can run with it. This is a sensitive topic and I want to clarify that I respect my opponent has his position.
I will be offering two points of constructive material as to why capital punishment is both harmful and ineffective, as well as offering some refutation of my opponent’s arguments. But first, allow me to posit some framework as Pro has offered none of his own.
Burden of Proof: The burden of proof is shared, which means that I need to argue why the death penalty is harmful and should not be reinstated and my opponent must argue specifically why the death penalty should be used and in what situations capital punishment is appropriate.
Criteria: The criteria for deciding this debate should be based on what is effective for protecting society and what is just.
“I believe that there are boundaries to a crime, and if crossed, there should be a more severe punishment then life in prison.”—That’s very nice but you have failed to clarify what those boundaries are and why you believe your position. You have offered no specifics or clarification, therefore I am debating a moving target. Additionally, you have offered an arbitrary criterion for what counts as “boundaries” to a crime. Since the delicacy of life cannot be left up to a single person with vague “boundaries” this notion should be rejected.
“Act all sweet and nice and they'll have time off for good behavior.”—This argument ignores many of the complexities associated with re-integrating back into society. Simply “acting sweet” doesn’t allow a maximum security prison a “get out of jail free” card. Even so, this is argument against inmate release policy, not capital punishment. We can have capital punishment and never release murder inmates.
Constructive One: The Death Penalty is an Ineffective Deterrent
One of the touted benefits of the death penalty is that it acts as a deterrent for committing murder and other heinous crimes. However, we don’t actually see any correlation between having the death penalty and having a decrease in the murder rate. In fact, we see the opposite correlation. In states where the death penalty is abolished, there is in fact less crime.1 Take a look at these two graphs. The data is pretty clear.
I’m not necessarily arguing that abolishing the death penalty will decrease crime, but I am saying that there is no correlation that many claim there is.
Additionally, most murders are acts of passion, where they aren’t thinking about the consequences of their actions immediately, especially not the state’s current position on capital punishment. The only deterrence impact that we could hope to have is on serial killers, who in most cases aren’t rational thinkers anyway and in fact often seek the death penalty as a challenge to kill more. (Ted Bundy).
Constructive Two: The Death Penalty is Unjust.
1. Capital Punishment is backed by vengeance, not justice: Besides being based on the deception that the death penalty somehow reduces crime, capital punishment is often justified under the guise of “justice”. But if we look closer, capital punishment is not motivated by justice, but vengeance. There is no other crime with which we follow the literal “eye for an eye” maxim. For example, if my opponent were to break my arm, I could charge him with assault and he would achieve JAIL TIME OR A FINE and this would be considered just compensation. It would be considered savage if I could actually break my opponents arm in response to his initial assault. In fact, if I were to do such a thing I would be liable for assault. This is because we understand that committing the same crime that the person committed against them as punishment is simply hypocritical and counterproductive. Providing just compensation for crimes committed either through a fine or jail time is considered justice because it avoids the risk of vengeance punishment. There is no logical reason (and my opponent has not provided any) that murder is unique in this way. If someone commits murder, we should charge them with prison time, not murder them back.
2. Capital Punishment entrenches violence into society and into the lives of people: The sentiment of Capital Punishment is one that condones “eye for an eye” revenge. This creates a dangerous narrative for our society, the same narrative that is responsible for the bloody feuds that existed after the civil war. The government justifies the use of killing to “protect society” even though no other individual is given the right to kill in the name of punishment. Violence is thereby used as a means to govern the people, and is shown to our society as a means of problem solving. This violence narrative spreads to other forms of the government, we see this in corrupt police brutality and other forms of vengeance killing which runs rampant in society.
3. Capital Punishment is neither fair nor consistent: Most often, those who are put to death have insufficient representation.2 According to an ACLU report, a large portion of defendants facing capital punishment are forced to use public representation which is often overworked and underpaid.(2)(3) Studies have shown that in Texas, Illinois, Washington, and North Carolina many of those executed were represented by lawyers who were later disbarred or faced punishment for legal misconduct.(2)(4)(5)(6)(7)
For time’s sake I haven’t even addressed the overt cost that death row has on society or the fact that we don’t even execute many death row inmates, therefore any benefits my opponent can claim from execution probably are non-existent in the status quo. My opponent has failed to show how execution is good, and in what cases it may be appropriate. Thank you.
(1)(Also Graphs). http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
(5) (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Aug. 6-8, 2001)
(7) Charlotte Observer, Sept. 9, 2000
My condolences to my opponent. I wish the best of luck to you and your kin in this tragic time.
As for the debate, my opponent has unforunately conceded, vote Con.
littledude506 forfeited this round.
My opponent has conceded victory to me. Extend my arguments and vote Con.