The Instigator
thett3
Pro (for)
Winning
20 Points
The Contender
lotus_flower
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The Death Penalty should remain legal in the United States

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
thett3
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/10/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,835 times Debate No: 18713
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (18)
Votes (6)

 

thett3

Pro

I'm pleased to be debating lotus_flower on this issue.

Round one is for acceptance or clarification. Round two will be for constructives, but if my Opponent wishes to refute my case in his second round, that's fine too. However he must post arguments of his own. New arguments cannot be brought up in round 4.

We can both ask our opponents questions during the debate.
lotus_flower

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
thett3

Pro

What is justice? Just is defined as “Based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair”. The fundamental question my opponent and I must answer (and indeed everyone in all Capital Punishment debates) is how should we, as a society, respond to true evil? Undoubtedly, some people are so truly evil that the possibility of rehabilitation is completely out of the question. So with this in mind, I affirm.

C1. Capital Punishment is just.

How a society punishes its worst human rights violators is a good indication of how just it is. There are some cases, where any punishment less serious than death undermines the scale of the tragedy. For this point, I’ll bring in one of the most brutal crimes to ever take place in my home state, the murder of Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena[1]. I’ll briefly summarize it. These two teenaged girls were walking home from a party, when they ran into a gang. The gang beat the two, and raped them over and over again. The ring-leader of the gang, Peter Cantu, was later quoted as being proud to have “virgin blood” on him. After these innocent girls were raped, they were strangled slowly and painfully. With a shoelace. Afterward, because they’re sick and twisted animals, the gang members stomped on their throats to ensure that they were dead.

Now how should we respond to this? Should we put these evil men in prison so that they can be fed, clothed, and entertained for the rest of their lives? Is that valuing innocent life? Is it valuing innocent life to look the parents of those innocent children in the eye, and tell them that their daughters had to die, but the men who brutally destroyed them get to live? I contend that the much more just option is to go right to the source of the evil, and end the lives of these criminals before any more damage can be done.

Innocent life is worthy of protection. There can be no more serious penalty than death, and no more serious crime than murder. Punishments should fit crimes. Handing down too light of a sentence is both morally repugnant, and destroys the deterrent effect of justice.

Gregory Koukl elaborates [2]:

“you view human beings, by and large, as machines and not as moral agents. What happens when a machine goes bad? Do we punish the machine? Of course not. We fix the machine. If the machine can't be fixed, we discard it. Or, if in the case of an animal, we will remove the animal or kill the animal. Not because it is guilty and it ought to be punished because we don't hold them morally responsible since moral terms don't seem to really apply to animals. But we remove it from any position of being able to do harm to others in society. The underlying point of view or philosophy about the nature of man is…. Is man a machine or is man a moral agent worthy of praise and punishment? I think many people are straddling those two views. They want to treat man like he's worthy of praise then treat him like a machine when it comes to the issue of punishment, saying we shouldn't punish people because it's revenge. Well, yeah, that's right. It is social revenge. No apologies. Justice is a kind of revenge. It is getting back, but it is an appropriate getting back when executed by the appropriate authorities. In this case, the state. The state has an interest in getting revenge.”

It should be noted that although the chance of executing an innocent exists (and grows smaller each year) the benefit of having a just society massively outweighs this tiny risk.

C2. Capital punishment prevents recidivism.

Obviously, a murderer who is executed can never kill again. The Bureau of Justice Statistics[3] tells us that in 2009 8.6% of those on death row had a prior homicide conviction. Over 5% of those on death row committed their capital crime while in custody or during an escape. This shows that killers can, and do reoffend even while imprisoned!

There are also many specific examples, such as Kenneth Mcduff. In 1966 a Texas jury ruled for him to die in the electric chair for his brutal murder of two boys and a girl. However his sentence was commuted to Life Imprisonment when the Supreme Court struck down the Death Penalty. Mcduff was later released, and ended up murdering at least 9 more people. Thankfully, he was executed by lethal injection in 1998[4]. He will never kill again. Had he been executed the first time at least 9 innocent lives would've been saved.

It might be objected that life without parole can prevent these crimes, but the case of Clarence Ray Allen[5], responsible for the deaths of 3 innocents while serving a life without parole sentence shows this to be untrue. The BJS evidence shows this to be empirically false as well.

If my Opponent disputes these, I will bring up more.

C3. The Death Penalty deters crime.

It’s indisputable that Capital Punishment, when used properly, deters crime. Just look at Saudi Arabia and Singapore, both of which have swift and certain death penalties, and extremely low rates of violent crime. While we can’t compare these countries to the United States (or other countries either) for obvious reasons, it’s still something that should be noted.

The Federal Government recognizes that surer and harsher penalties lead to less crime [6]. Raw statistics show a negative correlation between execution rates, and murder rates. Here is an example from my home state of Texas[7]:

“According to JFA (Justice for All), the Texas murder rate in 1991 was 15.3 per 100,000. By 1999, it had fallen to 6.1—a drop of 60 percent. Within Texas, the most aggressive death penalty prosecutions are in Harris County (the Houston area). Since the resumption of executions in 1982, the annual number of Harris County murders has plummeted from 701 to 241—a 72 percent decrease.”

I agree that correlation does not always mean causation, but logic tells us that a link between these two variables would exist, as does the evidence brought in. Furthermore, if there is a chance that we can save innocent lives by using Capital Punishment, than we have an obligation to do so. As researcher Carl Spence from Texas A&M University so elegantly puts it:

“While some death penalty abolitionists try to face down the results of their disastrous experiment and still argue to the contrary, the...[data] concludes that a substantial deterrent effect has been observed...In six months, more Americans are murdered than have killed by execution in this entire century...Until we begin to fight crime in earnest by using the death penalty, every person who dies at a criminal's hands is a victim of our inaction."

I strongly urge a pro ballot, and thank my Opponent.


1. http://bitURL.net...
2. Koukl, Gregory. "Capital Punishment Is a Just Consequence for Those Who Choose Evil."
3. http://bitURL.net...
4. http://bitURL.net...
5. http://bitURL.net...
6. http://bitURL.net...
7. Lowe, Wesley. "Consistent and Swift Application of the Death Penalty Reduces Murder Rates."

lotus_flower

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for his arguments.
First, I would like to agree with my opponent on his first statement. "How a society punishes its worst human rights violators is a good indication of how just it is." that is true, but I intend in prove to my opponent that life in prison is a far worse punishment for the violator, and less of a drain on American tax payers. I would also like to say that although the story of Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena is truly a very sad one, I believe it was added in this debate to evoke emotion,and emotion isn't what we are here to debate. So, with no further direct responses to my opponent's arguments, I would like to begin with my own.

1.) Financial costs to taxpayers of capital punishment is several times that of keeping someone in prison for life.

Richard C. Dieter, MS, JD, Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said the following on June 7, 2010, in his testimony before the Pennsylvania Senate Government Management and Cost Study Commission:

"The death penalty is the most expensive part of the system on a per-offender basis. Millions are spent to achieve a single death sentence that, even if imposed, is unlikely to be carried out. Thus money that the police desperately need for more effective law enforcement may be wasted on the death penalty. The principal reason why the death penalty is so expensive can be summed up in one phrase:"death is different". Every stage of a capital case is more time-consuming and expensive than in a typical criminal case. Jury selection takes much longer; more mental health and forensic experts will be needed; two trials will be required - one for guilt and one for sentencing; and the appeals will be far more complex, focusing on both the conviction and the death sentence. Two attorneys are usually appointed for the defense, so that issues of guilt and sentencing can be separately explored. The prosecution has to respond with equal or greater resources since they have the burden of proof...There is no reason the death penalty should be immune from reconsideration, along with other wasteful, expensive programs that no longer make sense."
Using conservative rough projections, the Commission estimates the annual costs of the present (death penalty) system to be $137 million per year. That is a lot of money that could be spent on other things, but is wasted on the death penalty.

2.) If we wish to advance as a society, then we must move away from this"eye for an eye" policy.

If we kill everything that does us wrong, then it is just out of pure emotion. If we strive to advance as a society, then we must get rid of this policy. A revenge philosophy inevitably leads to an endless cycle of violence. Why do you think the Israeli-Palestine conflict has been going on for 50 years? Why do you think gang violence in this country never seems to end? It is important to send a message to society that striking back at your enemy purely for revenge will always make matters worse. After all, as the old clich´┐Ż goes, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

3.) Some jury members are reluctant to convict if it means putting someone to death.

Many states require any jury members to be polled during the pre-trial examination to be sure they have the stomach to sentence someone to death before they're allowed to serve. Even if they're against the death penalty, they still may lie in order to get on the panel. The thought of agreeing to kill someone even influences some jury members to acquit rather than risk the death. Some prosecutors may go for a lesser charge rather than force juries into a death-or-acquit choice. Now is that just?

4.)It creates sympathy for the monstrous perpetrators of the crimes.

Criminals usually are looked down upon by society. People are disgusted by the vile, unconscionable acts they commit and feel tremendous sympathy for the victims of murder, rape, etc. However, the death penalty has a way of shifting sympathy away from the victims and to the criminals themselves. To prove this, please allow me to tell you a story. It is the story of the 2005 execution of former gang leader "Tookie" Williams. This is the man who founded the notorious "Crip" gang, which has a long legacy of robbery, assault, and murder. This is a man who was convicted with overwhelming evidence of the murder of 4 people, some of whom he shot in the back and then laughed at the sounds they made as they died. This man is a ruthless killer, who never even took responsibility for the crimes, or apologized to the victims' families -- NOT ONCE! These victims had kids and spouses, but instead of sympathy for them, sympathy shifted to Tookie. Candlelight vigils were held for him. Websites like savetookie.org sprung up. Protests and a media circus ensued trying to prevent the execution, which eventually did take place -- 26 years after the crime itself! There are many cases like this, which makes a mockery of the evil crimes these degenerates commit. Now, how just is a society that could possibly feel inclined to be sympathetic to its "Worst Human Rights violators?"

So, In conclusion, I would like to say that I feel like I have provided arguments that efficiently refute my opponent's, and that hopefully after reading this, you will be inclined to vote Con. Thank you for your time.

Sources:

http://www.innocenceproject.org...
http://www.deathpenalty.org...
http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
Debate Round No. 2
thett3

Pro

I'm glad that my Opponent has made a timely response. I was going to wait to post my refutations, but I've found some spare time and will do it immediately.

At the beginning of the round, my opponent attacks my C1 by charging it with being an appeal to emotion. This is not exactly true. It was an appeal to justice. It was supposed to cause emotion, because we can only understand what is just if our sympathies lie with the victims.

Cost of the Death Penalty

This is by far the most common, and by far the weakest argument against Capital Punishment (henceforth referred to as CP). First I'll criticize his source, than I'll criticize the argument.

--> First off, it should be noted immediately that the sourceis biased. Anyone who reads DPIC can quite clearly detect a bias.

--> The source specifies Pennslyvania. It should be noted that Pennslyvania has 219 people on it's "death" row, and has executed a whopping three. So for each person executed in the past 35 years, there are 73 others awaiting execution. Thus, you can see that the high cost of CP in Pennslyvania is logicaly due to the lack of executions.

--> The source never specifies its methodology. I can claim that CP saves the tax payers hundreds of trillions, but unless I can back up my claim, it's worthless. This is just an appeal to authority.

--> The [biased] source fails to explain how it is the death penalty and not criminal justice that makes these costs. It's makes a few assertations, which I will attack.

"Thus money that the police desperately need for more effective law enforcement may be wasted on the death penalty." Scratch that, and replace it with "criminal justice". This testimony never explains the difference between life w/o parole and CP, so there is no reason to presume that solvency will be gained by abolishing CP. CP is pricey, so what? Nothing worth having is free, because all societal benefits require some measure of sacrifice.

"Every stage of a capital case is more time-consuming and expensive than in a typical criminal case" A) No explanation as to why a capital case is more expensive, and B) you can replace the "capital case" with "first degree murder trial". The high costs are due to the high stakes. With or without CP, it's undoubtebly a major thing to convict someone of 1st degree murder. The state holds a life in its hands (even without CP, LWOP destroys the life of the person convicted forever), and to argue that it shouldn't be more expensive and time consuming to convict someone of the most serious crimes as opposed to "a typical criminal case" is both absurd and unjust.

" Jury selection takes much longer; more mental health and forensic experts will be needed" - This can be cross applied to murder trials in general, and is a good thing.

The argument that sentencing in a capital trial is more complex gains no solvency. The reason that the sentencing is so complex is becase CP is the highest penalty in our current justice system. If we abolish it and establish LWOP as the harshest penalty, than the resources used by the defense to resist the DP will be applied for LWOP cases.

It's claimed that "$137 million" per year is spent on CP. There are large problems with this claim. For instance, the methods are not explained anywhere, nor is any comparison made. It is completely unproven that the abolition of CP will save money, furthermore; no impact is argued. Why is spending money for justice a bad thing?

Criticism of the cost argument

--> No impact argued, who cares?

--> No solvency, as previously mentioned theres no reason to believe that the money will be saved once LWOP becomes the most serious penalty.

--> Never have I seen a cost argument that adresses a state that actually performs executions regularly, such as Virginia. Thus you can't take it as a true criticism against CP, because CP involves an actual execution.

--> Turn: The costs associated are from those awaiting executions. IE if we recognize that keeping prisoners incarcerated costs so much, than killing the prisoners via CP ends the costs. LWOP would have the same costs, just without an execution at the end.

--> This is supported by empirical evidence[1]: This cost analysis shows that executions cost "$1.2 to $3.6 million" less over time than equivalent LWOP cases.

--> Ignores the use of CP for plea bargaining. CP is responsible for an estimated 10% of guilty pleas in murder trials[2] (avoiding the cost of a trial entirely).

--> It also ignores the cost of a natural death. Since the justice system has an obligation to keep its inmates alive, the high cost of dying[3] (around $13,300 in the last year, and $1,900 each year past 65 for healthcare alone). This can be added to the cost of LWOP, and unless my opponents cost analysis addresses this, it cannot stand because it doesn't address every aspect of cost.

Eye for an Eye is bad

--> Con confuses a just execution with a brutal murder, please don't consider an execution an "eye for an eye" until he can show them to be morally equivalent.

--> Con's argument can be applied to anything that is physcially similar to a crime. My question: If executing someone for murder is an "eye for an eye" and wrong, than isn't arresting and imprisoning someone for kidnapping also an "eye for an eye"? They both lead to the same result: a person held against their will.

--> CP is not an eye for an eye. Murderers are not executed in the same manner as they killed their victims. If we raped, tortured, and killed someone for an execution this argument could apply. Otherwise, it can be applied to his plan (LWOP) as well, because LWOP is in retaliation to a crime committed, just like CP.

Jurys don't want to condemn

Absolutely false. Sentencing is a post conviction matter[4], and if jurors are uncomfortable with sentencing someone to die, than LWOP can be handed down. This argument is irrelevant.

Creates sympathy for murderers

This is a good point, but it falls on a few accounts.

--> Con brings up a single example for this, thus if I refute the example than this point is dropped.

--> Con leaves out a lot of the Williams story. for one thing, the man became a devout Christian, and an anti-violence activist[5]. He appologized for founding the gang, and expressed deep remorse. Whether or not it was true is irrelevant. What is relevant is that he managed to convince people of his repentence. If he was able to do this, than he would've done it if sentenced to LWOP as well. The sympathy to him didn't exist because of his death sentence-it existed because of his post conviction behaviour.

--> The justice gained by CP outweighs.

--> The innocent lives saved by CP outweigh.

--> Con claims there are many examples of this. He needs to show more, or else it isn't significant.

Questions (if he runs out of room, I give my opponent my permission to post his replies in the comments section)

1. What does the U.S. gain by implementing your case? What is the advantage and impact? How does it outweigh?
2. Is there any situation, in your opinion, where CP is justified?
3. What is the monetary value of each innocent life?
4. Do you see a distinction between physical and moral similarities between crime and punishment? If so, what causes this difference?
5. Do you view imprisoning a kidnapper as an "eye for an eye"?

My Opponents arguments are refuted, thus you affirm. Thank you.

Sources:

1. http://bitURL.net...
2. http://bitURL.net...
3. http://bitURL.net...
4. http://bitURL.net...
5. http://bitURL.net...
lotus_flower

Con

lotus_flower forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
thett3

Pro

I have no choice, extend all arguments andd vote Pro. If my opponent posts a rebuttal in his 4th round, I reserve the right to reply in the comments section.
lotus_flower

Con

lotus_flower forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
You were ill it cant be helped. I would challenge you to a rematch, but I'm tired of this issue
Posted by lotus_flower 5 years ago
lotus_flower
I am so sorry about this. :(
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
I have an idea, if you have to miss do yu want to post your argument in the comments section? That way I'll have something to respond to
Posted by lotus_flower 5 years ago
lotus_flower
There was a firing squad execution in Utah not too long ago.

I remember, that makes me sick.

And if you can't make it, I understand. Do you want me to wait to post my round 4 for as long as possible?
that would be great, thank you for your understanding! (:
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
There was a firing squad execution in Utah not too long ago. And if you can't make it, I understand. Do you want me to wait to post my round 4 for as long as possible?
Posted by lotus_flower 5 years ago
lotus_flower
I have fallen sick, so we may have to resume this later, and I could very well miss a round. I apologize if I do, but I will try my my hardest not to.
Posted by lotus_flower 5 years ago
lotus_flower
I find it interesting that this is something that people could possibly conciser. http://today.msnbc.msn.com...
Posted by lotus_flower 5 years ago
lotus_flower
I thought tookie would be a good example, it was on gangland. lol (:
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
It's well argued. Point 4 in particular is very interesting
Posted by lotus_flower 5 years ago
lotus_flower
afterwards**
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by kohai 5 years ago
kohai
thett3lotus_flowerTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: CON forfeited so all 7 points go to PRO.
Vote Placed by jm_notguilty 5 years ago
jm_notguilty
thett3lotus_flowerTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by imabench 5 years ago
imabench
thett3lotus_flowerTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Better arguments, his sources checked out, and he didnt forfeit the final rounds
Vote Placed by seraine 5 years ago
seraine
thett3lotus_flowerTied
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Reasons for voting decision: With two rounds forfeited, I don't think it's worth the effort to go over the first round.
Vote Placed by BlackVoid 5 years ago
BlackVoid
thett3lotus_flowerTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
thett3lotus_flowerTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Would have considered evaluating the arguments if only one round was fofeited, but TWO rounds (out of 3), no. Thett, if you want a real RFD based on the first round, I'll give it to you but right now, it is obvious.