The Instigator
phantom
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
GaryBacon
Pro (for)
Winning
5 Points

The United States should retain the use of the death penalty

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
GaryBacon
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/14/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,610 times Debate No: 18791
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (3)

 

phantom

Con

Please don't accept this if you have not won at least 5 debates, thank you.



Resolved:
The United States should retain the use of the death penalty for murder.

I will be negating the resolution.
Thus I think the United States should not continue to use the death penalty.


Burden of Proof:

BoP is shared.



Definitions:

Death Penalty - a punishment in which the person who committed the offence is put to death by the state. [1]



Structure:

1st round: Acceptance.

2nd, and 3rd round: Arguments and rebuttal.

4th round: No more arguments, just rebuttal and closing up.



Terms:

1. Each participant should have respectable behavior and good conduct.

2. No plagiarism, sources should be properly cited.

3. One forfeit should result in the loss of conduct point but that is all. If a participant forfeits twice voters can use their own discretion.

4. If needed to save space because of the character limit, participants may post their sources in a separate link or in the comments section.

5. Please no semantics. Note this is not a rule but more of a request. I think I have made a semantic proof resolution, but semantics should be allowed in debate. Though I hope we stay out of that so we can have a good debate here.


If anyone has any questions, or complaints please feel free to leave a comment or pm me.
Good luck to my opponent whoever he or she may be.



Sources:


[1] http://en.wiktionary.org......
GaryBacon

Pro

I accept, and I hope to show why the death penalty should be retained.

On a side note, good choice for your pic.
Debate Round No. 1
phantom

Con


I would first like to thank GaryBacon for accepting this debate. Here's too a good debate.

Nice avatar choice for you too. Meddle is a great one of Pink Floyds albums.


Let's get started now, shall we?


Basic overview of what I will be arguing:
-That the death penalty is an extreme, and unnecessary risk, in that innocent people have been executed numerous times.
-
That the death penalty violates the right to life, is inhumane and barbaric.
-That America need to abolish the death penalty in order to progress as a society.
-That the death penalty eliminates the possibility of reforming or rehabilitating a criminal.
-That the death penalty is an unnecessary burden on the tax payers, as in that it costs more than life in imprisonment.
-That life imprisonment is a far better, more just, and less risky form of punishment.


Arguments:

C.1 As long as the death penalty is in use, there is always the risk of killing innocents:


There is always the chance that the person being convicted is innocent. Even when there is what seems strong evidence, it may only mean that the convicted man had something too do with the crime, not the murder itself. There are of course many other possible explanations why someone, tried guilty, might be innocent. Those sentenced to life imprisonment have the chance to be proven innocent before they die.

Well over eighty people in the past quarter century have been condemned but then released before execution. [1]

This source shows detailed accounts of eleven innocents being executed. [2]

One researcher says he has found at least 74 cases in which wrongful executions have most likely taken place. [2]

69 inmates on death row have been released since 1973 (Source is from 1997 so it would be allot higher now).[3] This clearly shows the risks of the DP. Risks which are completely unnecessary and should be gotten rid of immediately. These men were lucky to escape with their lives.


I should add that there have, undoubtedly, been cases in which innocent people have been executed but have not been proved innocent afterwards. After being executed there is not much need for someone to try too prove the innocence of someone who is already dead. So there are undoubtedly instances in the past where we have executed an innocent man but did not know so, and still do not know.

With life imprisonment there is zero chance of killing an innocent man.

It is a horrible thing for an innocent person to be killed at the hands of the state. It is also completely unnecessary.



C.2 The death penalty is barbaric form of punishment that needs to be abolished in order for the United states to progress as a society.



Now of course the one being condemned has violated anther's right to life, but does that mean he loses his right to life as well? When one man takes away someone else right, it does not mean that man taking away the right should also have his rights taken away. It is the same concept as an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth. For one thing it teaches revenge and is wrong. In order to progress as a society we need to get rid of this barbaric punishment. The eighth amendment of the Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. What else would you call purposefully taking the life of another human being? A decent and humane society does not deliberately kill human beings. The death penalty is extremely hypocritical.


How can we teach something is wrong by doing the exact same thing that we are teaching is wrong? Basically it's a you kill him so we kill you idea, which is a barbaric and an absurd way of thinking. This is what makes the death penalty so ironic.




C.3 Those executed cannot be be reformed, or rehabilitated.


What is the purpose of taking action against criminals?


1. The main purpose is too punish them.


2. Keeping them segregated from society is another purpose.


3. Another purpose is to rehabilitate or reform them.


With the use of life imprisonment we have the chance of accomplishing all three of these. However with the use of capital punishment the third is impossible, unless they are reformed before they are executed. But it is much more likely they would be reformed if they have their whole life to be reformed. Thus life imprisonment obviously accomplishes the third goal much better than the death penalty. The death penalty deprives criminals of a second chance which SHOULD be given to them.


The question is, why would we be using a form of punishment that only accomplishes two of the three main purposes of taking action against criminals, when there is another option that may accomplish all three?


With life imprisonment those convicted have a much better chance of repenting, and after repentance have a much longer time too do good works.

Two murderers, Van Houten and Krenwinkel, were sentenced to life imprisonment, but latter expressed remorse at their actions.[7] If they had been sentenced to death they would never have had the chance to repent.

Watson and Atkins, two other murderers, became Christian Fundamentalists after being given a life sentence.[7]


With the use of the death penalty the State is not accomplishing what it is supposed too.


This argument may appeal to any human being, but it may appeal even stronger to those that are religious.



C.4 Death Penalty costs more:

While it may not seem so at first, the death penalty is much more expensive than life imprisonment.

This is due to the fact that the constitution requires a long and complex judicial process for cases of capital punishment.

-By replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment, California could save $1 billion over five years.
-Californian taxpayers have to pay 90,000 more on those waiting to be executed per year than on normal prisoners.

-The source also says that, "The federal court system spends approximately $12 million on defending death row inmates in federal court." [4]

Those serving life sentences are also able to help pay off their costs by working while those executed obviously cannot, being dead.


Conclusion:
The death penalty is an inhumane and hypocritical punishment that devalues life. It is extremely risky as there is always the chance that we are killing an innocent man. It is a waste of the taxpayers money and eliminates the possibility of reforming criminals. Over all life imprisonment is a far better, more just, and less risky form of punishment.



Thank you pro, for accepting this debate, and good luck in the future rounds.



Sources:

[1] http://www.the-slammer.org......
[2] http://www.justicedenied.org......
[3] http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org......
[4] http://www.deathpenalty.org......
[5] http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org......
[6] http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org......
[7] http://digital.lib.lehigh.edu...
[8] http://www.vincenter.org...

GaryBacon

Pro

YOUR ARGUMENTS
As long as the death penalty is in use, there is always the risk of killing innocents

For this argument, you provide the following link: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...

It is true that there have been cases where an innocent man was wrongfully convicted. But with our modern advancements in technology and science, our crime solving techniques have also gotten better. With more and more advancements, the risk of convicting an innocent man will become lower and lower.

If you view the facts posted on that link, it states that between 1973 and 1999, there was an average of 3.1 exonerations a year for death penalty cases. From 2000 to 2007, there was an average of 5 exonerations per year.

It is true that these numbers show that innocent people are sometimes convicted. But it also reveals something far more subtle, but very significant. It is well-known that evidence for guilt or innocence is strongest and best when the case is new. As time goes on, details become more convoluted. The exonerations are for "cold" cases. These are cases for crimes that have taken place a long time ago.

And our modern advancements have gotten to the point where we are now able to clear innocent men on these old cases. The jump in average exonerations means that we are getting better and better at knowing when someone was innocent.

Furthermore, if we are now at the point where we can show innocence on a case from years past, we clearly have the capabilities to show innocence on a new case. What was considered overwhelming evidence in past decades is far different from what we consider overwhelming evidence today.

The risk of convicting an innocent person is constantly diminishing, and therefore the conviction of innocents in years past does not imply that the death penalty cannot be used nowadays and in the future.

You state: "With life imprisonment there is zero chance of killing an innocent man."

This is not true. This link (http://www.prodeathpenalty.com...) shows various stories of people that were released after being sentenced to life without parole. In some of these cases, the person killed again after being released. In other cases, the person escaped.

The main point is that with life in prison, the person can get out. And when that happens, there is a very serious risk of an innocent man (or woman, or child) being killed. Not by the state, but by the same murderer that apparently was too good of a guy to get the death penalty.

The law books are sometimes filled with various legal loopholes. As strange as it may seem, life without parole does NOT necessarily mean that the individual will remain in prison for life. And thanks to the taxpayers dollars, all prisons have fully stocked libraries. These libraries contain all sorts of law books, so a murderer with a life sentence can study at his leisure to search for a loophole.

The death penalty is barbaric form of punishment that needs to be abolished in order for the United states to progress as a society

Murdering innocent people is also barbaric. The death penalty may be viewed by some as "an eye for an eye" but that misses the point. In cases where there is overwhelming evidence, there is no sense in keeping a ruthless murderer alive.

You say that we cannot progress without getting rid of the death penalty. I say that we cannot progress if we go soft on people that commit such abominable acts. There are people that have shown that they clearly cannot fit in to our society. Not only are they completely useless to society, they are outright harmful to society.
You say that "it teaches revenge and is wrong." But revenge is actually needed. We know from game theory that tit for tat is one of the most highly effective strategies. Allowing someone to get away with murder is what is wrong.

And when you think about it, it is not even "an eye for an eye." The murderer killed an innocent person. Killing the murderer is killing an extremely guilty person. A society where we go easy on murderers is not one that I would call progressive.

Those executed cannot be be reformed, or rehabilitated

Here you state: "Two murderers, Van Houten and Krenwinkel, were sentenced to life imprisonment, but latter expressed remorse at their actions. If they had been sentenced to death they would never have had the chance to repent.

Watson and Atkins, two other murderers, became Christian Fundamentalists after being given a life sentence."

When we view your corresponding link (http://digital.lib.lehigh.edu...), we find out that these four individuals were vicious murderers that were part of the Manson family!!

Two of them became Christian Fundamentalists after killing a bunch of people. This may sound cold-hearted, but honestly, I don't give a sh*t that these horrible human beings have found religion.

I am no conservative. But when you start talking about reforming and rehabilitating the Manson family, I think you are taking bleeding heart liberalism to an extreme.

I agree that if you kill a vicious murderer, that murderer cannot become reformed or rehabilitated. But the person is a vicious murderer! Why would you want to reform or rehabilitate them? The time wasted on such a task is clearly not worth it.

With the other two from the Manson family, you say that if they were sentenced to death they wouldn't have had the chance to repent. If they were killed, I think very few people would care that such low life murdering individuals didn't have the chance to repent. I know I certainly wouldn't care. And I know that it is making me sound uncaring, but we have to put things in perspective here. These are people from the Manson family! Talking about reforming, rehabilitating, and the rest is simply taking liberalism to an extreme. Trying to rehabilitate such people is a VERY warped view.

Death Penalty costs more

Actually, the opposite is true. Life in prison costs more.

http://deathpenalty.procon.org...

The problem we have is that people that oppose the death penalty skew the numbers. The cost of trials for death penalty cases in the biased studies total the costs of all of the appeal cases as well (as they rightfully should). Unfortunately, people that are sentenced to life in prison also go to court numerous times to appeal the decision. But these costs are not counted (when they should be).

From the link, we can see that the death penalty is actually less of a burden on the taxpayers. And when it comes to trial costs, "U.S. states that repeal death penalty laws do not see a significant savings in trial costs." Why? Because when the death penalty is a possibility, many defendants plea bargain and plea guilty for a life sentence. This ends the case quickly and saves a lot of money in trial costs.

On the other hand, when life in prison is the most severe penalty, a person facing a charge that leads to life in prison has nothing to lose. There is no plea bargain, and the trial is dragged out leading to more trial costs.

The death penalty is cheaper than paying for someone to be in prison for the rest of his or her life.
MY ARGUMENTS

You claim that the death penalty devalues life. In prison, the inmates get cable tv, watch new releases in the movies, have an outdoor area for recreation, a gym, a full library, and the ability to learn a trade or get a college degree.

I think that allowing a vicious murderer all of these perks devalues the life of the victims.

Life in prison is the real waste of taxpayers' money. Such dispicable human beings should not be reformed or rehabilitated. Allowing them to live in prison is what is truly unjust.

In certain cases, (e.g. your friends in the Manson family), the death penalty is more just than life in prison.

The legal loopholes for life sentences shows that life in prison is what is truly risky. When the evidence is overwhelming, the death penalty is the best choice.



Debate Round No. 2
phantom

Con

phantom forfeited this round.
GaryBacon

Pro

With the lack of anything to rebut, I will use this to extend my arguments a bit. The character limit cut me short in the previous round.

First off, I want everyone to know that I do not think that prison is a very nice and pleasant place to be. I know that a life in prison is hardly ideal for anyone. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that the perks we provide to inmates can sometimes be viewed as extreme.

Every prison has a library. Every prison library contains a large volume of legal texts. A prisoner sentenced to life has all of the time needed to go through the legal books and find a loophole to get out of his "life without parole" sentence. If you view the articles posted in the previous round, it is clear that many murderers have been released after being sentenced to life without parole.

On The Risk Of Killing An Innocent Man

My opponent has pointed out that, in the past, people that were innocent were sentenced to death. I cannot deny this. However, it is well-known that our advancements in technology, DNA testing, and any other type of chemical or biological analysis are getting better each day. Basically, our ability to correctly identify the true murderer and our ability to prove innocence are now very good.

When it comes to the "cold" cases, evidence is always difficult to find. Yet our advancements are now so refined that we are even increasing our ability to prove innocence on these cold cases. The website my opponent posted shows that the cold cases where innocence was proved jumped from 3.1 per year to 5 per year. That is a 66% increase! It can only get better from there.

And if our technology and advancements can make such strides with cold cases, we can certainly perform similar feats on new cases. In fact, when it comes to a new case, when the evidence is still fresh, we can now assess with extremely high accuracy whether a person is innocent or guilty.

Furthermore, the death penalty is not simply handed out on every murder case. It is given when there is an overwhelming amount of evidence. Our standards of what constitutes overwhelming evidence has changed drastically over the years. Someone convicted of murder nowadays with overwhelming evidence is almost certainly the true murderer. So the risk of killing an innocent man through the death penalty is now so low that it is a non-issue.

But then we come to escapes from prison and legal loopholes. Murderers escaping from prison are extremely rare, but it still happens. When it does, there is obviously a good chance that this person will kill again. It is in their nature.

When it comes to legal loopholes, however, there is actually a decent chance of a murderer being released. The law books have always had many grey areas. And if you have ever looked at the volume of law books, even for a single section of the law (e.g. the penal code), you would know that the sheer volume makes closing the loopholes impossible. I know first hand from working in the court system that there are far too many grey areas and loopholes in our law books; far too many to ever correct.

So the murderers can always find a way around a "life without parole" sentence, while our crime-solving abilities constantly reduce the chance of sentencing an innocent man to death.

In the end, life without parole actually contains a higher risk of an innocent person dying. Not by the hands of the state, but by the hands of the murderer that was sentenced. And the discrepancy between the two is sure to grow each day. Our advancements and ability to prove innocence will continue to grow, while the law books and loopholes will continue to be grey.

On Devaluing Life

I've already mentioned the libraries. And I will reiterate some of the other perks of prison. The inmates have a gym, cable television, movies, and an outdoor area for recreation. They also have the ability to become certified in a particular trade, or take college courses and earn a college degree. In some prisons (e.g. Monroe, Washington) they have movie nights with popcorn and ice cream and barbeques.
Once again, I know that prison, even with all of this, is hardly ideal. But to give all of these things to a murderer is simply absurd. Add to this the fact that some murderers decide to write books while behind bars. Now in addition to these amenities, the murderer has a chance at his or her name becoming immortal.
And now you must think about the victims. Innocent people, living decent lives, doing the right thing, and then killed. When the evidence is overwhelming, giving a murder a sentence of life without parole definitely devalues the life of the victims. All of those perks granted to the murderer! This is justice? I hardly think so.
The death penalty is not devaluing life. It is the perks of prison that truly devalue life; the life of the victims.

On Rehabilitation
This notion you have of reforming and rehabilitating murderers is something that, once again, devalues the life of the victims. To waste time trying to reform such terrible people is ludicrous!

Our justice system already seems to have an imbalance when it comes to rights of the victim vs. rights of the criminal. Your notion of rehabilitation tips those scales to an extreme.

Think of the victims. Think of the victim's family. If your family member was killed by one of those Manson murderers you cited earlier, would you still have the same notion? Would you say "I know my relative was killed by this murderer, but I think the murderer should be reformed and rehabilitated."? Somehow, I don't think so. Would you care if this person that killed your family found religion once they were behind bars? I'm sure that the families of the people killed by Watson and Atkins didn't exactly rejoice upon hearing the news that these murderers are now "Christian Fundamentalists."

And when it comes to rehabilitation, what does that involve? Therapy sessions from professionals, rehabilitation programs, activities to help with the rehabilitation, etc. Who is going to pay for all of this? It would have to be the taxpayers. The families of the victims now fall into this category. So in addition to having a family member brutally murdered, the state will now take money out of your paycheck to help the person that killed your family member. GET REAL!!
In short, trying to reform or rehabilitate such people is a joke. There is such a thing as taking something to an extreme, and your view of reformation takes liberal viewpoints to that extreme.

Conclusion

When the evidence is overwhelming, the death penalty is the correct course of action. Sentencing a vicious murderer to death is far more just than allowing this terrible excuse for a human being to live in prison with cable tv, a gym, movie night, and all the rest.

Our system has given more rights to murderers than to the victims. It is time to correct this horrible injustice.


Debate Round No. 3
phantom

Con

I sincerely apologize to my opponent.
I have been very busy with soccer, school and other things and won't be able to finish this debate.

On top of that I've had a discouraging and disappointing week and am in no mood for writing debates.

I also apologize for the forfeit last round. When I realized I wouldn't be able to do this it was my intent not to forfeit any rounds, but I accidentally did so, so I apologize.


I will have to urge a pro vote.


I sincerely apologize for wasting your time.
GaryBacon

Pro

Don't worry about it. Things happen. I hope things start looking up for you after this week. Best of luck.
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by phantom 5 years ago
phantom
Guys, I already posted it in my debate. I'm not just going to concede the argument right in the middle of the debate.

As for this debate, I never said if I would use it or not.
Posted by BlackVoid 5 years ago
BlackVoid
Yeah I PM'd him the jstor link earlier, but it looks like he's sticking with it.
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
not exactly...I mean sort of...the reason I was telling you that was to help you. But i really should stop talking now, because I dont want to give anyone an unfair advantage
Posted by phantom 5 years ago
phantom
@thett

Why?
Because you think it's been proven invalid?
Posted by phantom 5 years ago
phantom
I'm glad GaryBacon accepted this. This will be excellent debate now I think. Looking forward to it!
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
You should check out my debate with blackvoid if you stilll want to use that argument
Posted by phantom 5 years ago
phantom
No lol!!! That's like beyond newb snipping...

Maybe I'll rephrase to make it more clear, so other people won't make the same mistake.
Posted by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
I read it wrong, I thought you wanted anyone who accepts to have less than five wins.
Posted by phantom 5 years ago
phantom
If a newb hadn't accepted the debate I might not have used it. But I thought I might as well throw it in.

You basically did invalidate it in my debate with you, but I thought I might test it again.
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
That's what I thought too. Hey phantom, at the risk of sounding patronizing, I really think you should drop the C3 you used in your last DP debate (that juries are less likely to condemn)
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
phantomGaryBaconTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I believe Con presented a strong case but cannot justify an argument vote after multiple forfeits.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 5 years ago
16kadams
phantomGaryBaconTied
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Reasons for voting decision: after reading both sides, i believe Gary bacon did a better job.
Vote Placed by jm_notguilty 5 years ago
jm_notguilty
phantomGaryBaconTied
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Reasons for voting decision: ff