The Instigator
TheAtheistAllegiance
Pro (for)
Winning
33 Points
The Contender
Loserboi
Con (against)
Losing
25 Points

The US Death Penalty Should Be Phased Out

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/28/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,661 times Debate No: 12850
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (31)
Votes (10)

 

TheAtheistAllegiance

Pro

This is a debate related to the elimination of the death penalty.

This first round is meant to establish the rules and parameters of the debate, along with finding a willing opponent. There will be 3 extra rounds for the actual debate, which make 4 total. I am Pro - I will argue in favor of eliminating the death penalty. Contrarily, Con will argue against the elimination of the death penalty. Con may provide his/her own arguments, or simply make refutations of mine.

For this first round, Con will agree to the rules I've set up and accept the debate. After that, I will make my opening arguments. I look forward to our discussion!
Loserboi

Con

Please state your case...
Debate Round No. 1
TheAtheistAllegiance

Pro

=== INTRO ===

I am debating as Pro for the elimination of the death penalty in the United States. I will list the reasons why I support its elimination below.

=== Ethical ===

I contend that the death penalty is ethically/morally wrong due to the inalienable rights that all people reserve. I feel that every human being has an inalienable right to live, regardless of past crimes. State sponsored murder is unjust in a civilized society that has the capability to safely detain criminals without killing them. To react to murder with murder is unethical. As Gandhi said, if everyone took an eye for an eye, the world would be blind.

=== Logical ===

I contend that the death penalty is inherently illogical. To show that murder is wrong by murdering the perpetrator is contradictory. It would be as if someone stole from me, which is wrong, so I decided to steal from him/her. Two wrongs don't make a right, and the death penalty for murder cases is especially ironic in that sense.

=== Practical ===

A) Cost:
I contend that the death penalty is impractical due to high costs. In California, the death penalty currently costs $137 billion per year. If this was replaced with a life sentence, the cost would be $11.5 billion.[1] Many other states yield nearly identical comparisons, along with nationwide death penalty trials averaging 8 times the cost of a normal trial.[2] The overwhelming majority of reputable empirical studies reinforce these findings.[3]

B) Ineffectiveness:
I contend that the death penalty is ineffective at being a crime deterrent. In fact, the states that utilize capital punishment the most have the highest crime rates.[4][5][6] Additionally, 88% of criminologists do not view it as an effective crime deterrent either.[7]

C) Innocence:
I contend that the death penalty should be eliminated because innocent people can be killed by its usage. If a convict is imprisoned, but later found to be innocent, he/she can be provided with reparations and compensation for the state's egregious mistake. However, with the death penalty in play, an innocent inmate can receive no compensation once executed. A list of freed inmates on death row: [8]

D) International Opinion:
I contend that the death penalty does damage to America's image. Most US allies such as Australia, Germany, and Italy frown upon capital punishment, which doesn't help with America's image when viewing the matter from where they stand.[9][10][11]

=== CONCLUSION ===

The death penalty should be eliminated due to a combination of reasons, which include the ethical, logical, and practical dilemmas associated with its usage.

=== Sources ===

1. http://www.deathpenalty.org...
2. http://deathpenaltyinfo.org...
3. http://deathpenalty.procon.org...
4. http://www.amnestyusa.org...
5. http://tech.mit.edu...
6. http://deathpenaltyinfo.org...
7. http://deathpenaltyinfo.org...
8. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
9. http://www.angus-reid.com...
10. http://www.roymorgan.com...
11.http://en.wikipedia.org...
Loserboi

Con

Ethical?
How is this unethical? Was it ethical for the person who committed the murder to take away another person's life eliminating the chance he ever had to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (property)? Life in prison is not a suitable punishment for murderers who take the rights of everyone they murdered. Life in prison may actually be a reward, they get to live, while constantly bragging about how they killed people for the rest of their lives in prison, while we clothe, feed, and provide a shelter for these people. Where is the justice for the victim? The victim's families? If I killed your mother, your father and left you orphaned and in the courtroom, and I smiled at you with little remorse for what I have done, would you still feel justice was served to me? The victims of these crimes are not given justice, while we give murderers a slap on the wrist as our prisons overcrowd with these scumbags constantly reminiscing of their past work with other scumbags.

Logical?
Cost?
The cost of a prisoner on death row is more expensive which is true. But the studies on this research, weigh in the costs as to be so high because death row inmates fees comes mostly from housing the inmate and the numerous appeals a death row inmate makes. The statistic done on a death row inmate in not he same for "lifers", "lifers" or people serving life in prison, the statistic is only done on the cost of housing them. If we were to add in the lifetime costs of all the appeals a "lifer" makes it will easily cost more than a death row inmate, seeing as how a death row inmate's appeals can eventually expire over the course of those 10 years, while "lifers" appeals cost can span over the time frame of 10 years.

Ineffectiveness?
I do not know how a study can without a doubt prove this claim that the states who have the death penalty have higher crime rates. Some states are just more heavily infested with crime, due to maybe gang affiliations or economic situations, one state just might have more of these problems that leads to a higher crime rate. [1][2][3]

If we think of a common sense standpoint, I think we can all agree most people have a natural fear of dying. So when one person who would probably, commit a murder meditatively, one would weigh in the costs of going to jail to life, or being executed. If there is a death penalty more people would be scared to commit crimes. It works for other countries like Singapore, but the U.S requires a lot of factors to guarantee a death penalty so it is harder to acquire.

Innocence?
Does my opponent have a list of innocent people actually being executed, instead of death row inmates later being freed due to newly discovered evidence? My opponent cannot really prove this point without actual proof of innocent people wrongly being executed. The fact of the matter is those who oppose the death penalty have had a hard time finding proof that innocent people have been executed and those that were found were highly controversial and did not absolute proven innocence. [1]

International opinions?
By the way my opponent is writing his argument it seems like he thinks we are the only country with a death penalty sentence. Many big countries like India, and most parts of Asia still have the death penalty in effect. International opinion is not a valid argument in this case. [4]

Conclusion
The death penalty give justice to the victims and its a fitting punishment for those who have willfully taken the rights, and liberties of another human being by taking their life. There has been little to no proof that innocent people were ever executed. People are scared to die, so weighing that in, people would not murder as often knowing the consequences. As for international relations many countries disagrees with many issues of other countries, the fact of the matter is death penalty is not the only one, and we should not get rid of it because some countries do not use it, when a lot of other countries still have it in effect and has shown that it is effective. [3]

http://www.prodeathpenalty.com...
http://www.balancedpolitics.org...
http://akorra.com...
http://www.infoplease.com...
Debate Round No. 2
TheAtheistAllegiance

Pro

"Ethical?"

First of all, Con immediately assumes that death row inmates are never remorseful, but only proud of their crimes. This assumption is unsubstantiated. Secondly, Con shows disdain for the removal of life, liberty, or property, yet in the next breath, advocates it for certain prisoners. Thirdly, life in prison is hardly a reward, vacation, or "slap on the wrist" as Con puts it, but instead a severe and Draconian punitive measure, which certainly goes far enough. Lastly, despite how angry someone may be at the murderer of his/her parents, basing the US legal system on emotion rather than reason-based law will likely result in further unethical actions taking place. It relates to the quote I listed in the first round: "If everyone took an eye for eye, the world would be blind". In your view, perhaps the victim of a crime should be allowed to torture the perpetrator? Just how far are you willing to go to right the wrong that has been done by committing another wrong?

"Logical/Cost?"

The studies I cited take into account the appeals process for both death penalty and regular trials, along with detainment costs. A death penalty trial requires much more arbitration and bureaucracy because the state is about to systematically kill somebody. Larger legal teams are required, additional court time, and overall, excessive resources that the US cannot currently afford when considering the deficit issues. Deficits aside, these are resources that could be used to put more Police on the streets, which actually serves a useful purpose.

"Ineffectiveness?"

Con's "common sense standpoint" is hardly comparable to legitimate studies and statistics. Singapore may have strict laws on crime combined with low crime rates, but Sweden also has low crime rates, yet takes the opposite approach to punitive measures. This demonstrates that crime is insensitive to the usage of the death penalty. The point stands; the death penalty is not an effective deterrent.

"Innocence?"

It is tough to obtain records of innocent people who have already been executed. The fact that an activist organization had to obtain DNA evidence to exonerate 138 death row inmates makes it self-evident that innocent people have been killed by the usage of capital punishment at some point in time. Many of the listed exonerations would be unjust murders if not for The Innocence Project.

"International Opinions?"

Con simply asserts that my argument is not valid, yet doesn't provide a reason why.

=== Conclusion ===

Con's arguments have not stood up to the facts. The death penalty is not ethical because of emotionally driven vindictiveness, nor is it effective, logical, or internationally popular. The only thing the death penalty can accomplish is the accidental murder of innocents, along with creating astronomically high costs. This is why the death penalty should be phased out.
Loserboi

Con

Again ethical... Is life in prison really a fair punishment for a man killing another person? There is no justice being served here. Just because Gandhi says something doesn't mean everyone should agree with his teaching. Not torture, but deliver the same punishment that the criminal used on the victim. The U.S system does not do enough to give justice to the victim. When we send a prisoner to life in prison he basically no longer has rights, or the freedom to use those rights, and we take away his pursuit of happiness. Should we ban jails too? because it is basically the same thing, we are depriving the murderer of his right to liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Logical/ costs
People on death row like I said before has a set time period until their sentence and in that time frame of avg 9.8 years they make appeals which costs a lot of money. A person serving a life term sentence can easily make appeals for past that time period that would accumulate to even more costs in the long run than the appeals of a death row inmate.

Ineffectiveness
This study is far from conclusive. It really does not make sense that states with the death penalty have higher homicide rates. There must be other factors weighing in like more drug usage in those states, more poverty, more gang violence,etc. The death penalty is to serve justice for the victim that was killed.

Innocence
So, you do not have a list or proof that innocent people have been killed under the death penalty?

International opinion
What i meant in my last argument was that, other countries have also allowed the death penalty. The death penalty will not be the sole reason other countries will see us in a bad light. Other countries who has the death penalty might look down on us if we took off the death penalty the same international opinions would apply.

Conclusion
The death penalty gives closure and justice to the victim and their families. We have laws for a reason, and a murderer just chose not to follow the rules of the state, so their rights should be taken away. Sending them to jail like I said takes away their rights as well, to pursue happiness it doesn't mean we get rid of jails. The facts Pro has put forth are far from conclusive just observations, and surveys. Keeping all the murderers in jail will just crowd the jails, and more people will just demand appeals to overturn the ruling the costs will still be ridiculously high. The death penalty should be enforced so that we can seek true justice for the dead victims and not just look out for the criminals.
Debate Round No. 3
TheAtheistAllegiance

Pro

"Again ethical..."

Yes, life in prison is a sufficient punishment and safeguard for society. You admit that a murderer's actions are unethical, but when the state returns the favor, you fail to see what's unethical. That is quite a disconnect. Additionally, victims are not entitled to privileged rights such as murder to be used as a retaliatory tool. Not to mention, murdering the perpetrator does not bring back the loved one, nor does it serve justice. And no, jails shouldn't be banned...

Con - "A person serving a life term sentence can easily make appeals for past that time period that would accumulate to even more costs in the long run than the appeals of a death row inmate."

This is an unbacked assertion that goes in direct conflict with the information provided in the numerous sources I presented in round 2. Life terms may grant more numerous appeals over time, but even so, death penalty trials still cost an average of 8 times more than regular murder trials.[1][2]

Con - "This study is far from conclusive. It really does not make sense that states with the death penalty have higher homicide rates."

It makes perfect sense. It has been demonstrably proven that the death penalty is NOT an effective deterrent, regardless of usage, state, socioeconomic circumstances, or average crime rates. If capital punishment was indeed an effective deterrent, a trend of negative crime rates would ensue; however, that just doesn't happen.

"Innocence"

No, I do not currently have a specific list. However, what is the likelihood that NONE of the 1,100 executed death row inmates since 1976 were innocent? What about the chances that no execution in American history ever been infringed upon an innocent?

"International Opinion"

The overwhelming majority of the USA's strongest allies do not support the usage of capital punishment, which will contribute to our international image as being a bunch of barbaric and uneducated Rednecks. This is not a positive image.

=== Conclusion ===

The US death penalty does not serve justice, but rather perpetuates injustice by retaliating to crimes with draconian punishment. State sponsored killing is something the US can leave to nations such as Iran, Saudi-Arabia, and China, because capital punishment does not serve an ethical or logical purpose, whatsoever. Instead, government resources are wasted, crime rates are undeterred, and our international image is further tarnished. There are currently around 3,000 death row inmates, which hardly crowds the 1.5 million large US prison system. Overall though, the death penalty is unethical, inefficient, illogical, ineffective, and very impractical to utilize, which is why it should be phased out.

Vote Pro.

=== Sources ===

1. http://www.deathpenalty.org...
2. http://deathpenaltyinfo.org...
Loserboi

Con

How a state government works is this, we as citizens gives up some power so that the state protects our unalienable rights and in return we live by those laws that the state has set forth. When someone who just broke one of the biggest laws set forth, which is we do not kill each other, he/she relinquished their rights. How is life in prison a suitable punishment for a person who kills a person or even kills more than one? How is that justice being served? Did those victims not have lives? dreams? rights? Were those rights not just violated by an individual who broke the laws of the government? When someone is murdered, the state has failed to protect that person from his unalienable rights being taken away. The best solution is to serve justice, kill the menace to society, not cloth them, feed them, give them books to read, give them water, or even a shelter until they die in their cells.

Example
Jeffrey Dahmer, killed 17 boys, he tortured them, raped them, and ate their bodies. 17 boys died and the suitable punishment was to be stuck in jail for the rest of his life? He took their dreams, their future, their innocence, and disposed of the bodies so that not even the families could give a proper burial, and the most reasonable conviction was to send this man to jail for life? Why does he deserve to live? Where does it say he is allowed to take the rights of 17 boys? For people who commit these crimes, prison is a blessing, with all these charges how are these people supposed to live in the outside world? No person in their right mind would hire a murderer.

Our international relations should stay intact, we are a more powerful country we should not force ourselves to change every little thing so that all the countries will accept us more. It is impossible to please the entire world, our allies will just find other reasons to look at us in a bad light, we cannot change everything just to fit their likings.

The death penalty is a fitting end to a person who did not care about the consequences of his/her actions,they gave up their rights when they decided to break the state laws and take another persons rights away. I do not see the logical reasoning with one person killing 17people and getting to live his life, that seems like a flaw in the justice system if we allow that to happen. The death penalty should not be phased out.

http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 4
31 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Loserboi 6 years ago
Loserboi
I felt it would have been jacked up to introduce new arguments that he would not have had the chance to refute, so i just went with a conclusion
Posted by rengstrom6147 6 years ago
rengstrom6147
So I actually flowed this debate, because I'm cool like that.

1) Why was the last round so short compared to the other rounds? Athiest you barely touched over your issues, and Loser you dropped like ALL of the arguments Athiest made?
2) On the ethic aspect of the issue, I find that both sides aren't really responsive to the others point. NO where does loser adress the inherent oddity or ethical and logical questions of executing someone. At the same time Athiest doesn't really adress Loser's points well about life in prison where your clothes and food is paid for doesnt really do justice. I mean I guess you said our legal system isn't based on emotion, but at the end of the day I would at least hope it does justice.
3) Athiest definitely won the cost debate. And Yes, I believe cost should play an important part in all of our decisions even about justice. Loser you didn't really provide us with any evidence of what you were saying, whereas athiest did. If you could find some evidence that said that over the life term it actually costs more to house someone and pay for their appeals i would have been far more sympathetic to your claims.
4) Obviously Athiest won the crime deterent part as well. Loser, Athiest was not suggesting that the presence of the death penalty is what caused the increase in crime, but was rather showing that the two aren't correlated. Essentially people don't care about the death penalty to which you didn't respond in any meaningful way to this argument.
5) I think the fact that we have come so close to executing so many innocent people that the innocenece project has saved is scary and certainly at least causes us to wonder if innocents have been killed, something that you needed to address better Loser.
6) Here I'm somewhat on losers side. I see what athiest is saying but I would need to see much more evidence that the presence of the death penalty here actually affects relations in order to buy into athiest's arguments.

Good Job
Posted by Lightkeeper 6 years ago
Lightkeeper
What do you mean if someone knows 100%? You mean that there must be no doubt. Well, that's ALREADY THE SITUATION. Our courts have to be satisfied beyond a doubt. Sure, the wording in common law countries is "beyond a reasonable doubt". But the effect is the same. If a doubt is unreasonable, it's not a real doubt because it's not a doubt that a reasonable mind would exercise.

What follows is that you can't legally have a more stringent standard of proof than the one already existing. Juries already can't convict unless they're perfectly satisfied of guilt.
Posted by lovelife 6 years ago
lovelife
Eh, I think if everyone knows 100% that someone raped or killed someone else they should be punished accordingly. Set o fire, drowned, impaled, something thats a real deterrance. If their just going to gas you or give you the chair, who would really care? If you get tortured and killed....different story :)
Posted by Lightkeeper 6 years ago
Lightkeeper
I wouldn't disagree with you.
Posted by TheAtheistAllegiance 6 years ago
TheAtheistAllegiance
Well, that's ultimately what I mean under the context of this debate.

Although, I would go as far to argue that America's draconian, punishment focused penal system is, in of itself, largely a failure at achieving any significant results of deterrence. Many foreign nations gear their penal systems toward rehabilitation, along with being much more lenient and humane, which has not indicated any upward thrusts in crime rates.
Posted by Lightkeeper 6 years ago
Lightkeeper
I'm myself against DP.

I think all we can say is that evidence is non-conclusive. And I don't think your claim can really be that DP is NOT EFFECTIVE as a deterrent. At the most, you might say that it's not anymore of a deterrent than is life imprisonment.
Posted by TheAtheistAllegiance 6 years ago
TheAtheistAllegiance
Among one of the 50 states, a negative trend in crime would be seen somewhere at sometime. Instead, the only trend that is observed is the one that shows the states banning the death penalty having consistently lower crime rates. However, because it is difficult to determine, I'm not willing to make the leap of faith in stating that the death penalty has the opposite of its intended effect. Instead, the fact remains, it is simply ineffective as a deterrent.
Posted by Lightkeeper 6 years ago
Lightkeeper
Atheist,

But if you don't know what it is that affects those crime rates then it's quite possible that DP DOES HAVE A STRONG DETERRENT but that deterrent happens to be offset by whatever (unknown) factors in those states.
Posted by Loserboi 6 years ago
Loserboi
I am glad that we have mutual respect not to vote for ourselves
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