The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

The Death Penalty Should be Illegal

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/29/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 796 times Debate No: 67625
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




First round is acceptance.
I think the death penalty should be illegal.

I am very interested in hearing my opponent's argument.


I accept.

I wish my opponent good luck.
Debate Round No. 1


As I stated before, I am against the death penalty.

Incarceration is at an all time high in the United States, in fact, we have the highest incarceration rate in the world. Roughly 1 in 32 Americans are being held by the Justice system right now. We all know that bad things happen to good people, and that there are terrible people in this world that only want to hurt others and this is awful. That is why we established jails, and in this case, the death penalty.

There are many types of death penalties in many states. I happen to live in one that does not allow the death penalty.
The main methods of execution are lethal injection, electrocution, gas chamber, hanging, and firing squad. Firing squad really only exists for two states if other methods of death are found unconstitutional.

I think there are many things wrong with the death penalty.

1) It"s the "easy" way out for the criminal
Often, we see the shooter kill himself/herself after attempting a mass murder (look at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Washington Navy Yard shooting). Sitting in jail for the rest of his/her life, having to think about this terrible crime that he/she committed? I definitely think that"s punishment. After all, the US is known for having some of the toughest jails in the world.

2) False Execution
Many people do not think that false execution happens a lot. It doesn"t happen a lot, but it sure has happened. Take a look at these people:
George Stinney ~ Executed in 1944, 12 years old, no real proof of Stinney committing crime
Carlos DeLuna ~ Executed in 1989, evidence shows that DeLuna was not the criminal
Jesse Tafero ~ Electric chair in 1990, the true murderer was found in 1992
Johnny Garrett ~ Executed in 1992, the actual criminal was found in 2004
Cameron Todd Willingham ~ Executed in 2004, after reviewing evidence, Willingham was found innocent

There are problems with this system! People are being executed wrongly! Do you know how many people could be innocent on death row right now? If the death penalty did not exist, we could easily take them from jail if they were found innocent. I would rather be able to tell a man that has been in jail for 30 years that he is free to go instead of taking a visit to the graveyard and telling a woman that has been dead 30 years that she was actually found innocent. Take a look at the Innocence Project:

3) Botched Executions
We often hear that the death of prisoners is safe and humane. That is certainly not the case.

The latest one was in July of 2014. After Joseph Wood was given lethal injection, he gasped and was still alive for an hour and 40 minutes, struggling to live. An eyewitness says that Wood gasped 640 times before he finally died.

This criminal is going to die for his crimes, he already knows he is going to DIE, can we not make it humane and quick?

This is why we should not let the death penalty stand.



I thank my opponet for being so patient with me. I will now begin my arguments, but I will be responding in a different order than what my opponent brought this up.

Contention 1: Detterance

Now, we can all agree that Criminals are rational actors as we can see that they the plan and preform their crimes by weighing the costs and benefits. Economist do similiar type of cost-benefit analysist, so I would concider them to be a great expert on thie topic of studying such thing. They have found that there is a direct corrilation between the increasing penalties to that of decreasing crime. Teenagers, who we can all agree are less rational than adults, have been found to have their crime rates decrease when the penalty is stricter than not. (The Impact of Incentives on Human Behavior, Can we make it dissapear? The Case of the Death Penalty, by Nanci Mocan)

This consensis has grown over time as economist Issac Ehrlich did research on this theory and was the first to do so and has found emperical evidense that the Death Penalty is a Detterance and found that the Death Penalty saves three lives on average. ( Ehrlich, Isaac. “The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Question of Life and Death,” The American Economic Review, Vol. 65, No. 3. (1975), pp. 397-417.) My opponent might just say, well that was from 1975, this is 2014, 2015 tomorrow making that piece of evidence 40 years old. It's invalid right? Wrong, newer evidence still confirms this theory as the Heritage Foundation found the following conclusion when researching this topic, "the recent studies using panel data techniques have confirmed what we learned decades ago: Capital punishment does, in fact, save lives. Each additional execution appears to deter between three and 18 murders. While opponents of capital punishment allege that it is unfairly used against African-Americans, each additional execution deters the murder of 1.5 African-Americans. Further moratoria, commuted sentences, and death row removals appear to increase the incidence of murder." (

My opponent's evidence is skewed as it doesn't account for the lagged efforts when creating their models while economists do. Death Penalty cases are done before and after the exicution, and it has been found that deterance is strong to begin with then slowly decreases. This means that a decreased time on death row would skyrocket the deterance rates. It used to be if you were on Death Row you would be exicuted within hours, now it's much, much longer than that. ( Shepherd, Joanna M. “Murders of Passion, Execution Delays, and the Deterrence of Capital Punishment,” Clemson University Working Paper, (2003). )

A Congressional Testimony from Paul Rubin has shown that evidence against the Death Penalty and like evidence, "has yet to be scientifically evaluated." and has argued that modern evidence “have exploited better data and more sophisticated statistical techniques”, the modern evidence has “consistently shown that capital punishment has a strong deterrent effect.” (Statistical Evidence on Capital Punishment and the Deterrence of Homicide by Paul Rubin) In another Congressional testimony Joann Shepard has found that per 1 exicuted criminal via the Death Penalty prevents 3-18 murders. ( ) [use way back machine for it]

Contention 2: Innocents

Most people who are exicuted that are "innocent" aren't really innocent, but rather there is just some doubt to weather or not it's truely 100% their fault. Via today's DNA rate and technology they have found a 0.28% error rate in killing innocent people. Out of the 260,000 people convicted for murder in the US, they have found that 34 were wrongly convicted, of those 34 18 were exicuted. My friend mistakes will happen, but when we say the costs and benefits here we can see that saving more lives is more important and with our technology growing more and more advanced the error rate is decreasing. ( and (

I do acknowledge that there has been some botched death penalties, but there will always be a slim margin for error reguardless how much we are technologically advanced, because due to the Theory of Infinate Probability there will always be a margin for everything no matter what it is or how small it is. The rate for shark attacks are incredably small and they are smaller then the chance of someone being struck by lightning twice, but it still happens.

Contention 3: "Easy" Way out.

My opponent may state that this might lead to psychological torture, but when this is observed the prison life isn't that bad. They get free TV, internet, a gym, and they can get a college degree for FREE. So in America, if you're poor, just commit a crime and you're taken care of. Plus there are some criminals that don't feel sorry for their crimes. (Now I know that he's a fictional character, but I'm going to use him as an example) Hanibal Lector killed several people and didn't feel any remorse for the crimes that he's committed.

Prisons are also over crowed and it's overly expensive to keep someone in jail. It costs the US $160,000 per year per one criminal in jail and that's more then I mate in a few years of working. ( Prisons are also overly crowed and there is several thousand people in jail and there is now too many people. Cutting out the Death Penalty means more people in jail and more expense for the US. (

Debate Round No. 2


I would like to bring to attention my opponent"s last arguments now.

Rebuttal 1

The death penalty is not a deterrence.
Have you seen the death penalty being a deterrence lately? Ferguson shootings, police officers being killed in New York (police officer shootings up more than 50%), mass shootings in West Virginia. These all show that the death penalty has not been a very good deterrence.

"It is very clear that deterrents are not effective in the area of capital punishment," said Dr. Jonathan Groner, an associate professor of surgery at Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health who researches the deterrent effect of capital punishment. "The psychological mind-set of the criminal is such that they are not able to consider consequences at the time of the crime. Most crimes are crimes of passion that are done in situations involving intense excitement or concern. People who commit these crimes are not in a normal state of mind -- they do not consider the consequences in a logical way," Groner observed. Deterrents may work in instances where the punishment is obvious and immediate, neither of which are true for the death penalty. (
Criminals are often not in the right state of mind and cannot comprehend the consequences. If there is a bloodthirsty murderer out for blood, do you think he/she is going to stop and ask himself/herself the consequences of killing? Of course not! It"s awful, but true.

Rebuttal 2

My opponent argued that mistakes happen. You are making a mistake with a human life! It is not okay to make mistakes when you"re dealing with humans. The link I gave in my first argument gave a list of 44 people whose executions got botched. I would understand one, two, maybe even three flubbed executions, but haven"t we learned from them? Apparently not, because we let more than 40 other people die in pain and torture.
You hear all the time about executions being postponed because the state executioners can"t even find proper lethal drugs.

Note that I am not supporting criminals. But if they have death wished upon them, in my opinion, I think they deserve to die quickly and as painlessly as possible.

Final Rebuttal

"The study estimates that the average cost to taxpayers for reaching a single death sentence is $3 million - $1.9 million more than the cost of a non-death penalty case" (

Executing prisoners costs just as much, even more, than a non-death penalty case.

Prison life is not cushy. Criminals have to work, and are sentenced to solitary confinement. It is shown that the more severely a criminal is punished, the more severe he/she will become. Rehabilitation is important. We must remind the prisoners that if they reform and show that they will never commit a crime again that they can still enjoy life after prison to the fullest.

Take a look at this article about a knitting group that transformed Maryland convicts:

And one final thing: just because criminals get a free college education does not mean they will get to use it. There is a special box on job applications that says "Felon"?. And you have to check yes or no. Why do you think businesses put that question on there? Most criminals are never hired again for the rest of their lives. Spending years in prison and living a life branded as a felon for the rest of your life isn"t as "free and easy" as you think.

In conclusion, the death penalty is a cruel operation that has not shown any affect on the mindsets of criminals. It is costly, and executions can be mishandled. Innocent people have been executed, and death is an easy way out for a criminal. The death penalty should be stopped in all states. Thank you.


Contention 1: Detterance

There is no increase in massive shootings. There's just a greater coverage of it by the media.

If we observe the above graph we can see that since the first studies done in the mid to late 1970's we can see that states where there is a Death Penalty we can see that the Murder rates have fallen drastically and there is a signifcant difference in the two. (Murders of Passion, Execution Delays, and the Deterrence of Capital Punishment
Joanna M. Shepherd* August, 2003 Clemson University ) We can also extend across my argument on economists being better at these graphs and studies then those who study crime, because their graphs don't include the lag that is included in the Death Penalty studies. This is important as it disproves Pros's one and only refutation souce on the subject. She also states that they are not in the right state of mind when they rob, but think about this. WHy hasn't anyone tried to rob Fort Knox yet? It's simply because the costs of failure outweigh that of the oppertunity of success and such is included in the Criminal's thought. If we observe the works of Fyodor Dostoyveski in his work Crime and Punishment we can see that his observance of the character Radion Raskonlinikov that the Criminal plans everything out in advance and then goes to the greatest lengths to justify it not actually carying about it. He was quoted saying that killin g the old pawnbroker was that she was a principle and he killed a principle not a person. He also goes to use the theories of Utilitarianism and the Overman theory to justify his murder showing that it doesn't mater what he did as the murder in his own mind was justified.
My opponent also dropps the fact that killing one criminal leads to the prevention of 3-18 murder which is indeed a lot and a huge benefit for society so we can see that this will be a great benefit to society and my opponent dropped this point. She also dropped Paul Rubin's testimony that my opponent's evidence is invalid and has no scientific backings. She also drops that the less time you spend on Death Row the high the deterrance. She also drops my Ehrlich evidence that I've brought up.
Contention 2: Innocents and costs.
Mistakes will happen no matter what, but once again I extend across my evidense that shows that the rate for error is that of 0.28% which is incrediatably small and with newer and newer technology coming out we can see that the error rate is getting very miniscule and though there will always be errors due to the theory of infinate probability meaning that my opponent's worries are all for nothing. If they don't want to do lethal injection that's okay. There are other means of the death penalty like firing squad or gas chamber. So if you're ever in Utah you can select your death penalty and can pick your one way American ticket for the Hollicaust.
Contention 3: "Easy" Way Out.
Well lets do some math here. The average prisoner lives about 50 years so when we do the math that's about $5 million while it costs $3 million at most for a death penalty meaning that it's chearper to do the death penalty. If my math skills are right we save more money doing to the death penalty.
My opponent says that prison life is tough, but how's that when you've got a colored TV, can get a college degree, internet, and you can get buff for free. Remind you that this is the death penalty so many of these people that would be in jail for life couldn't do much with your "fellon" box.
In conclusion, I have shown several times that the accidental rate is less than 1% and that it's a great deterance. My opponent has dropped several very key arguments of mine that hinder her case and because of that this resolution has been negated.
I thank you and please vote Con!
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by TheJuniorVarsityNovice 1 year ago
Firstly I saw a big contradiction in the first two claims made by Pro (1 and 2). You claimed that the DP is the easy way out because suffering in prison is much worse than simply dying by painless injection. You then state that many people are falsely accused and therefore falsely executed, by keeping the DP we allow these people to be executed thus robbing them of their lives. However many of those wrongly convicted wont ever be found innocent so why make these people suffer in the torturous depths of American prison if it is easy to simply die by execution? Unless the truth is that death by DP really IS the worse way to go, right? Btw, I do agree that prison is worse than the DP however our goal as a society shouldn't be revenge, but should simply be to get rid of the bad from our world. revenge never brings anyone back and prison is supposed to be a tool to rehabilitate people not torture them.

You claim that botched executions are a major problem but I just can see them as that significant because they are so rare and according to what you dropped, keeping the DP saves many other lives. Also I visited the sites you offered and Most of the problems happened with electrocution and gas, which we don't use any more in the US. The ones with injection usually happen in 80's when it was new or they are result of machine failure, and I think that there will always be risk in failure. accepting absolutely no failure in the DP because they are people makes sense but is unreasonable in my opinion.

Also, never tell the audience and voters to visit your links because we aren't allowed to accept an article as evidence, they are only there for reference, you only messed up once, but still, be aware of this.

You also claim that the DP is more expensive however this is clearly untrue and beyond that, the quote you provided only applies to one state so I cant assume it applies to all states and was forced to go with cons argument.

Good round guys, I hope this helps yo
Posted by lannan13 1 year ago
I'll post my arguments later today.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by TheJuniorVarsityNovice 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro wins this debate for several reasons however I would like to inform the other party that they did a good job in this debate aswell. I will focus on why the pro lost so that they can improve for further debates but as for specifically why Con wins: He in general showed that keeping it legal outweighed the benefits of illegalizing it and neutralized several points. One notable occurrence was that the opposite team dropped that we prevent 3-18 murders per execution, and whether I agree with that or nt is irrelevant because you did not disagree with it. For the reason of not disagreeing I Must assume that he is correct. For future reference, never drop an important claim , even if you simply say nuh-uh...not responding is like forfeiting a round... for the evaluation of problems in pro's argument please visit comments THanks