The Instigator
Subutai
Con (against)
Winning
20 Points
The Contender
Xboy57
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

The Death Penalty Should Be Abolished

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Subutai
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/23/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,828 times Debate No: 30619
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (0)
Votes (4)

 

Subutai

Con

Please read everything below before accepting, and remember to post your first argument in round 1. Xboy57 asked me to challenge him to a debate, so I respectfully honor his request.

Full Resolution

The death penalty should be abolished throughout the entire United States.

Definitions

The Death Penalty: "...the sentence of execution for murder and some other capital crimes (serious crimes, especially murder, which are punishable by death)."[1]

Should: "Must; ought."[2]

Abolished: "To do away with; put an end to; annul; make void."[3]

Rules

1. A forfeit or concession is not allowed.
2. No semantics, trolling, or lawyering.
3. All arguments and sources must be visible inside this debate.
4. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed without asking in the comments before you post your round 1 argument. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed in the middle of the debate.

Voters, in the case of the breaking of any of these rules by either debater, all seven points in voting should be given to the other person.

Debate Structure

Round 1: Presentation all arguments by pro
Round 2: Presentation of arguments by con and rebuttal by pro
Round 3: Rebuttal by con and defense of original arguments by pro
Round 4: Defense of original argument by con and a bye round by pro (to make for even rounds; only use one line for your final post)

Sources

[1]: http://definitions.uslegal.com...
[2]: http://dictionary.reference.com...
[3]: http://dictionary.reference.com...

Xboy57

Pro

Here we go my first argument is going to on wrong convictions.

1.Wrong Convictions
Since 1973, more than 130 people have been released from death row throughout the USA, due to evidence of their wrongful convictions. Nobody knows how many people are charged for crimes and murders they have never committed. However, the legal system has found some cases where, they have wrongly accused the innocent defendant. Factors such as inadequate legal representations, police and prosecutor misconduct, racial prejudice, jail house "snitch" testimony, political pressure to solve a case, misinterpretation of evidence, etc. can work against an innocent person and conduce to harsh death penalty.

2.Cost
Most of us fail to realize that executing a death sentence is 2.5 times more expensive than keeping the same criminal in prison for life. This is because, the cost incurred prior to and during the trial, involves an endless stream of appeals, legal wrangling, etc. For such trials, special motions and extra time for jury selection are required. Investigation charges also rise exorbitantly, especially by the prosecution. Thus, spending finances on death penalty is tantamount to reducing essential financial and time resources needed for crime prevention, mental health treatment, rehabilitation, valuable victim's services, etc.

3.Rehabilitation Failure
Putting somebody on death row does not accomplish anything. Death penalty closes all doors for the criminal to acknowledge his mistakes. Family members of the convicted may want to see the murderer punished, but death penalty will not ease the pain caused by the loss of the loved one. Retribution will not pacify the pain or fill the vacuum caused by the loss. This does not mean we are not to punish the guilty. A life imprisonment is a terrible punishment, amplifying the agony of the convicted over the decades spent in prison. Moreover, if we take away the murderer's life, how are we different? Isn't giving a second chance more humane? Although lethal injects and electric chairs are not as barbaric as medieval torture devices, it still is taking somebody's life.
Debate Round No. 1
Subutai

Con

I would like to thank Xboy57 for accepting this debate.

I. Effect on Crime

I.a. Deterrence

It's easy to imagine that criminals may not commit a murder if the punishment was more severe; most murderers see life in prison as a possible unfortunate side effect of his crime, and will therefore not be deterred from killing his target. On the other hand, murderers may see the death penalty as too much of a consequence to commit his act, and will therefore be deterred from killing his target. This is the principle behind deterrence.

A study by Gary Becker proves this theory. He proved that most murderers have a fear of death, just like everybody else, and may not commit a murder with the possibility of future execution - that murderers understand the cost and benefit analysis of their decision.[1] Isaac Ehrlich put this into practice by proving that the death penalty had a deterrent effect on murderers, and that the death penalty helped to slow rising murder rates.[2]

I.b. Actual Effect on Crime

Looking at crime rates versus executions in the years after WWII, it is easy to see that the death penalty plays some role in the rate of murder. The death penalty was suspended from 1968 to 1976, and in that time, murder rates skyrocketed. Fast forward to the 1990s, we experience a dramatic decrease in murder rates. There are several reasonable explanations, but, "...the states that reinstituted the death penalty had about a 38 percent larger drop [than states who did not] in murder rates by 1998."[3]

A recent study concluded that, "Overall, the rise in executions during the 1990s accounts for about 12 to 14 percent of the overall drop in murders."[3] Using state-level panel data from 1960 to 2000, Professors Dezhbakhsh and Shepherd were able to compare the relationship between executions and murder incidents before, during, and after the U.S. Supreme Court's death penalty moratorium. They found that executions had a highly significant negative relationship with murder incidents. Additionally, the implementation of state moratoria is associated with the increased incidence of murders.[4][5]

I.c. Saving Lives

Obviously, with fewer people willing to commit murders, fewer people will be killed. For one, with the death penalty, there is little chance of parole or escape. If instead a judge sentences a criminal to life imprisonment, the chances of either of those two possibilities happening dramatically increases, and when a criminal is out of jail, he is very likely to commit another crime. The last time the death penalty was abolished in the United States, dozens of inmates were given sentences of life imprisonment and were later paroled, many of whom killed again, over 25 known victims are the result of these post-furman cases, along with dozens more from escaped or paroled murderers[8]. The death penalty prevents this.

It has been proven in many studies that the institution of a death penalty saves numerous lives. Using a panel data set of over 3,000 counties from 1977 to 1996, Professors Hashem Dezhbakhsh, Paul R. Rubin, and Joanna M. Shepherd of Emory University found that each execution, on average, results in 18 fewer murders.[6][5] Two studies by Paul R. Zimmerman, a Federal Communications Commission economist, also support the deterrent effect of capital punishment. Using state-level data from 1978 to 1997, Zimmerman found that each additional execution, on average, results in 14 fewer murders.[7][5]

II. Cost

I'm not going to cover this much, instead focusing on rebuttals in the next round. I just want to show the results of one study. "There is no question that the up front costs of the death penalty are significantly higher than for equivalent LWOP [life without parole] cases. There also appears to be no question that, over time, equivalent LWOP cases are much more expensive - from $1.2 to $3.6 million - than death penalty cases. Opponents ludicrously claim that the death penalty costs, over time, 3-10 times more than LWOP."[9] Again, I will expand more on this in the rebuttal round.

Conclusion

Overall, the implementation of the death penalty reduces crime rates, saves lives, and saves money. In the words of this article([10]), if each execution is saving lives, the harms of capital punishment would have to be very great to justify its abolition, far greater than most critics have heretofore alleged.[10][5]

Sources

[1]: Becker, Gary S., "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach." Journal of Political Economy. (1968)
[2]: Ehrlich, Isaac, "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Question of Life and Death." American Economic Review. (1975)
[3]: http://www.foxnews.com...
[4]: Dezhbakhsh, Hashem and Joanna M. Shepherd, "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Evidence from a 'Judicial Experiment.'" Economic Inquiry. Vol. 44, No. 3 (2006), pp. 512-535.
[5]: http://www.heritage.org...
[6]: Dezhbakhsh, Hashem, Paul H. Rubin, and Joanna M. Shepherd, "Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence from Postmoratorium Panel Data." American Law and Economics Review. Vol. 5, No. 2 (2003), pp. 344-376.
[7]: Zimmerman, Paul R., "State Executions, Deterrence, and the Incidence of Murder." Journal of Applied Economics. Vol. 7, No. 1 (May 2004), pp. 163-193.
[8]: http://www.wesleylowe.com...
[9]: http://www.prodeathpenalty.com...
[10]: Sunstein, Cass R. and Adrian Vermeule, "Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? The Relevance of Life-Life Tradeoffs." AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies - Working Paper No. 05-06, March 2005, p. 42.
Xboy57

Pro

REBUTTALS

1.Deterrence
This in some cases may be true but people will still commit these sorts of crimes if they want revenge. The more someone thinks wrong about something that happened they will get angrier and angrier. So if they are just focusing on revenge they won't care about the consequences. Even so sentencing someone to a death penalty will still not erase the damage dealt to the victim's family.

2.Saving Lives
The death penalty does not save lives instead it takes away lives. In a case where someone wants revenge they won't care about consequences as I said in my first rebuttal. So in this case if the murderer is sentenced to the death penalty that is taking away twice the amount of lives, the one who is murdered and the murderer.

3.Cost
This is false because as I stated in my arguments in Round 1 it actually cost more. When sentencing someone to the death penalty you need extra money for attorney generals, judges, court clerks and other vital facilities required in court. It also requires numerous appeals and very detailed procedures.
Debate Round No. 2
Subutai

Con

I would like to thank Xboy57 for presenting his arguments and rebuttals.

I. Wrongful Convictions

My opponent cites (or rather does not cite) that over 130 people have been released from death row since 1973. This doesn't mean the death penalty is inaccurate. On the contrary, it is an extra show of precaution. Cases where the death penalty is administered are 99.86% of the time accurate.[1] As for LWOP cases, "...from 1973 to 2012, about 5,000 inmates per year die while in custody, or about 200,000 total, during that time. We cannot bring back any of those that may have been innocent, either.”[2] Because the death penalty can never be reversed, crimes investigated where the death penalty may be used are usually more thoroughly investigated than LWOP or other sentences, meaning that the death penalty decreases the percentage of wrongful convictions.

Looking at it another way, innocent people are, on balance, helped by the death penalty. "Murderers that we have allowed to murder again, recidivist murderers, MIGHT number around 28,000 since 1973, based upon existing studies." In other words, far more people are saved by the use of the death penalty than will ever be wrongly executed. The study goes on, "28 studies, beginning in 2000, find for a deterrent effect, ranging from 1-28 innocent lives spared per execution, or totals from 1,254 - 35,112 innocent lives saved."[2] What we see is that more innocent people are saved by the death penalty than condemned by it.

II. Cost

As I mentioned in the last round, "There is no question that the up front costs of the death penalty are significantly higher than for equivalent LWOP cases. There also appears to be no question that, over time, equivalent LWOP cases are much more expensive - from $1.2 to $3.6 million - than death penalty cases. Opponents ludicrously claim that the death penalty costs, over time, 3-10 times more than LWOP."[3] My opponent isn't really looking at the facts.

III. Rehabilitation Failure

I'm not going to get too much into the justice/retribution arguments, but since I already proved that the death penalty, saves lives, deters criminals, and saves money, it is only just for justice. As this mentions, "Abolitionists claim that the death penalty is a means of revenge. It is not. One way for the victim's family to get revenge would be to go out and murder a member of the murderer's family in order to get him to experience the same type of suffering he put them through. If the purpose of the state in executing murderers was retribution or revenge, then criminals would be executed in the same way they that murdered their victims. The point of the death penalty, however, is not to see how much pain can be unleashed on the murderer but to bring him to justice."[4]

Finally on morality, I will just post this to save some time: Morality is defined as "the principles of right and wrong." As moral creatures, humans deserve praise for good deeds, and punishment for bad ones. Punishment may range from a slap on the wrist to death, but the punishment must fit the crime. This is known as lex talionis, or in common jargon, "an eye for an eye." Abolitionists often insist that if we argue for lex talion justice we must be prepared to rape rapists, beat sadists, and burn down the houses of arsonists. Certainly, this is the case if we take the lex talion literally, and the criminals do deserve those punishments, but we needn't take it literally. The ancient Jews did not. They allowed for monetary compensation for physical or property damage.

Why then, if it is not morally okay to rape rapists, is it acceptable to execute murderers? The answer is simple. There is no redeeming value to carrying out the former punishment. Raping the rapist will only cause someone else to degrade themselves by doing it. It will not prevent the rapist from raping again. Executing murderers, however, prevents them from committing their crime again, and thus protects innocent victims. The good, therefore, outweighs the bad, and the executioner is morally justified in taking the murderer's life. On the other hand, if the abolitionist argues that killing is always wrong, then he must also concede that killing in self-defense is unacceptable and should be punished. Few, if any, however, are willing to do so. The abolitionist may choose to argue that the state should never kill. But consider also the scenario of protecting someone else's life. Are police officers (the state) justified in killing attempted murderers to save a victim's life? If the answer to this question is yes, then the question is no longer if the state is justified in taking the life of criminals but when.

Morally, it is wrong to simply incarcerate someone for murder. A sentence of life in an air-conditioned, cable-equipped prison where a person gets free meals three times a day, personal recreation time, and regular visits with friends and family is a slap in the face of morality. People will say here that not all prisons are like the one cited. This betrays an ignorance, however, of current trends. Eventually, criminal rights activists will see to it that all prisons are nice places to go. But regardless of the conditions of a particular prison, someone who murders another human being can only be made to pay for his actions by forfeiting his own life. This is so, simply because a loss of freedom does not and cannot compare to a loss of life. If the punishment for theft is imprisonment, then the punishment for murder must be exponentially more severe, because human life is infinitely more valuable than any material item.

Take, for example, a murderer who took the life of a teenager. The parents of the victim will be among the taxpayers that pay for his meals and his cable television. Should he choose to take advantage of college courses the prison may offer, the parents of the victim will be indirectly financing those expenses as well. Nothing could be further from justice. It is of this type of situation that the abolitionist approves. Somewhere along the line, their priorities have been turned upside down.[4][5][6]

The death penalty is justified both in the practical sense and the moral sense.

Sources

[1]: http://www.debate.org...
[2]: http://homicidesurvivors.com...
[3]: http://www.prodeathpenalty.com...
[4]: http://www.hoshuha.com...
[5]: http://biblicalresearch.gc.adventist.org...
[6]: http://www.theatlantic.com...
Xboy57

Pro

DEFENSES

1. Wrongful Convictions
My opponent has stated that these wrongful convictions are showing that executors should be more careful when sentencing someone. Executors still are not 100% accurate. More than 10 people have been executed falsely[1]. Studies show that an overwhelming 76 percent of all death row exonerees were wrongfully convicted of the murders of white victims[2]. So this is also showing that some executors are (no offense) racist. When people are wrongly convicted that means the real criminal is still free leaving them to commit yet another crime.

2.Cost
This is my third time explaining this this time I will leave a source below. When sentencing someone to the death penalty it cost much more. In California since 1978 they have used over $4 billion for the death penalty alone. $1.94 billion in pre-trial and trial costs, $925 million automatic appeals and State Habeas Corpus petitions, $775 million Federal Habeas Corpus appeals, and $1 billion in costs of incarnation.[3][4]

3.Rehabilitation Failure
As I said before this still does not accomplish any thing. It doesn't change the fact that the victim is gone and will never come back. Hate, revenge, and anger will never cure the emptiness of a lost loved one. Forgiveness is the only way to start the healing process, and this won't happen in a revenge-focused individual.[5]

SOURCES
1.http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
2.http://www.aclu.org...
3.http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
4.Richard C. Dieter, MS, JD
Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center
Testimony to the Judiciary Committee of the Colorado State House of Representatives regarding "House Bill 1094 - Costs of the Death Penalty and Related Issues"
Feb. 7, 2007
5.http://www.balancedpolitics.org...
Debate Round No. 3
Subutai

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for this debate. I will refute my opponent's round 2 arguments in this round.

I. Deterrence

Actually, criminals "rationally maximize their own self-interest (utility) subject to constraints (prices, incomes) that they face in the marketplace and elsewhere." Individuals make their decisions based on the net costs and benefits of each alternative. Thus, deterrence theory provides a basis for analyzing how capital punishment should influence murder rates. Over the years, several studies have demonstrated a link between executions and decreases in murder rates. In fact, studies done in recent years, using sophisticated panel data methods, consistently demonstrate a strong link between executions and reduced murder incidents.[1][2]

The rigorous examination of the deterrent effect of capital punishment began with research in the 1970s by Isaac Ehrlich, currently a University of Buffalo Distinguished Professor of Economics.mProfessor Ehrlich's research found that the death penalty had a strong deterrent effect. additional research by Professor Ehrlich reconfirmed his original findings. In addition, research by Professor Stephen K. Layson of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro strongly reconfirmed Ehrlich's previous findings.[2][3][4][5]

Professors H. Naci Mocan and R. Kaj Gittings of the University of Colorado at Denver have published two studies confirming the deterrent effect of capital punishment. The first study used state-level data from 1977 to 1997 to analyze the influence of executions, commutations, and removals from death row on the incidence of murder. For each additional execution, on average, about five murders were deterred. Alternatively, for each additional commutation, on average, five additional murders resulted. A removal from death row by either state courts or the U.S. Supreme Court is associated with an increase of one additional murder. Addressing criticism of their work, professors Mocan and Gittings conducted additional analyses and found that their original findings provided robust support for the deterrent effect of capital punishment.[2][6][7][8] The death penalty has a strong deterrent effect and saves lives.

II. Saving Lives

Even though the death penalty takes lives, on balance, it saves more than it condemns. Overall, most criminals do understand the cost/benefit analysis of committing a murder, even in cases of revenge, and most are deterred more by the death penalty than by LWOP. Numerous studies published over the past few years, using panel data sets and sophisticated social science techniques, are demonstrating that the death penalty saves lives. I already provided several studies that show that for each execution, more lives are saved than are taken, indicating an overall net benefit. As I mentioned in my first argument, if each execution is saving lives, the harms of capital punishment would have to be very great to justify its abolition, far greater than most critics have heretofore alleged.[2][9][10]

III. Cost

I ask my opponent to look at the chart in source 11 for the nitty gritty cost analysis. If the multiple layers of appeal are pursued in an ethical, and fiscally responsible manner , execution is less costly than warehousing a murderer for life. Any increased cost is caused by death-penalty opponents.[12] The death penalty can also be cheaper than it currently is, unlike LWOP, which is always increasing. Death penalty opponents created the cost problem by implementing laws that made it harder for the death penalty to be administered, increasing the time until execution, and thus costs.

Thanks again to my opponent for the debate, and remember that your round 4 is a bye round for you, so please no arguments or rebuttals.

Sources

[1]: Paul H. Rubin, "The Economics of Crime," in Ralph Andreano and John J. Siefried, eds., The Economics of Crime (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1980), p. 13. Originally published in American Economic Review, Vol. 28, No. 4 (1978), pp. 38-43.
[2]: http://www.heritage.org...
[3]: Isaac Ehrlich, "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Question of Life and Death," American Economic Review, Vol. 65, No. 3 (1975), pp. 397-417, and Isaac Ehrlich, "Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Some Further Thoughts and Additional Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 85 (August, 1977), pp. 741-788.
[4]: Isaac Ehrlich, "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Reply," American Economic Review, Vol. 67, No. 3 (June 1977), pp. 452-458, and Isaac Ehrlich, "Sensitivity Analysis of the Deterrence Hypothesis: Let's Keep the Econ in Econometric," Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 42 (April 1999), pp. 455-487.
[5]: Stephen K. Layson, "Homicide and Deterrence: A Reexamination of the United States Time-Series Evidence," Southern Economic Journal, Vol. 52, No. 1 (1985), pp. 68-89.
[6]: H. Naci Mocan and R. Kaj Gittings, "Getting Off Death Row: Commuted Sentences and the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment," Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 46, No. 2 (2003), pp. 453-478.
[7]: John Donahue III and Justin Wolfers, "Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate," Stanford Law Review, Vol. 58, No. 3 (2006), pp. 791-846.
[8]: Naci H. Mocan and R. Kaj Gittings, "The Impact of Incentives on Human Behavior: Can We Make It Disappear? The Case of the Death Penalty," National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 12631, October 2006.
[9]: The panel data sets used in these recent studies consist of observations of the 50 states or all United States counties over many time periods, usually years and months. Panel data sets allow social scientists to separate the effect of capital punishment from other socioeconomic and policy factors to ascertain the influence of executions on murder incidents.
[10]: Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule, "Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? The Relevance of Life-Life Tradeoffs," AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies Working Paper No. 05-06, March 2005, p. 42.
[11]: http://www.prodeathpenalty.com...
[12]: http://www.fed-soc.org...
Xboy57

Pro

Subutai, I thank you for challenging me to this debate and I wish the best of luck to both of us.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Magic8000 3 years ago
Magic8000
SubutaiXboy57Tied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's R1 arguments went uncited, so point goes to Con on sources. Con's arguments were rock solid, so Pro brought up that certain people who carry out psychotic revenge don't care about the consequences . Pro fails to realize that just because a small group of people will still do something, doesn't mean we should loosen the laws for everyone. It would be for the greater good, that was undisputed by Pro. Pro's 1 and 2 arguments were more of an argument against logistics of the death penalty. 3 was the only valid argument IMO. Con refuted 3 by the basics of morality, but Pro in his rebuttal to this one just appeals to emotion and still seems to think it's just revenge. Arguments to Con
Vote Placed by xXCryptoXx 3 years ago
xXCryptoXx
SubutaiXboy57Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by PurpleDrink 3 years ago
PurpleDrink
SubutaiXboy57Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Better citation and arguments.
Vote Placed by WesternGuy2 3 years ago
WesternGuy2
SubutaiXboy57Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: I had to vote con. Their arguments were detailed and organized with stats