The Instigator
resolutionsmasher
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Con (against)
Winning
17 Points

The death penalty is a reasonable form of punishment for capitol offences.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Danielle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/25/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,041 times Debate No: 12083
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (3)

 

resolutionsmasher

Pro

I here by challenge you to defend your stance on this issue. This debate is purely idealogical in method, meaning that while we could just throw statistics at each other for a while and see who wins, I would rather like to argue the ideas behind it. Both debaters are expected to be polite and respectful to the other. and so...... begin

What is the death penalty?
It is a form of punishment used by a legal system that ends the life of the convicted offender. This punishment is reserved for criminals convicted of the most heinous of crimes, such as murder, rape, or treason.

What is the goal of the death penalty?
The death penalty has several possible goals if not all of these in one.
1. To ensure justice. Most societies believe that crimes ought to be punished in a form or fashion equal in severity to the crime committed. Thus a murder must be punished by death. (notice that the severity of the punishment and not the nature is equal, I do not endorse raping rapists as punishment)
2. To remove possible future threats to society. Seeing as the ideal government will protect its citizens, any murderer must be removed from even the slightest possibility of committing such crimes again. This constitutes the death penalty in the minds of some governments. (I don not particularly endorse this motive, I am simply presenting the facts)
3. (This is the most vital and pivotal reason for the death penalty, and I will build my case on it) To prevent other citizens from committing these heinous crimes. When people see that the result of the crime that they could commit is death, it inspires them to not commit murder. This is an unquestionable statement. Thus the death penalty prevents a large amount of heinous crime from being committed. When set next to other possible punishments for these crimes, it is the only one that does this effectively and is thus the best possible option. (we will go over this later)

Arguments against the death penalty
1. It is against natural rights: all ideological issues against the death penalty spur from this statement here. If you look at the individuals who envisioned natural rights (John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Jean Russou) you will find that they defined them as this. The rights that a government is unquestionably and inexcusably REQUIRED to protect for those individuals that are INCLUDED in that SOCIETY. Also found in their explanation is that any individual who violates the law of this ideal government is then excluded from that government's protection of rights to the extent that they violated those rights. Thus thieves aren't protected from loss of property, rapists from loss of dignity, liars from loss of reputation, murderers from loss of life etc.... Seeing that they aren't a part of the society anymore, the government may take a murderers life justly in order to preserve the lives of those who are a part of that society.
2. There are acceptable and more effective alternatives to the death penalty: this is false. Such alternatives are all forms of rehabilitation or permanent incarceration. Rehabilitation's purpose is to bring criminals back into good standing with society, a society (that as I have already proven) they no longer belong in. Furthermore, the first goal of a justice system is to prevent crime from ever taking place. To do so, we must provide incentive for citizens to not commit these crimes. People are not intimidated with life in prison (eating three square meals a day, endless cable television, and free healthcare), they do not refrain from murder due to the possibility of rehabilitation. Thus the best form of punishment to fulfill the greatest goal of any government (to prevent murder or other heinous crimes) is without question the death penalty.

I look forward to your response to this case and any further insight you might provide for debate.
Danielle

Con

Many thanks to my opponent for the debate :)

== Rebuttal: Goals of the Death Penalty ==

Pro begins by citing 3 goals that the death penalty aims to achieve: Justice, Safety (removing threats to society) and Deterrence (prevention of future killings). In fact, Pro says that deterrence is the most important factor in why the death penalty should be upheld. He notes, "When people see that the result of the crime that they could commit is death, it inspires them to not commit murder." I'll begin by first arguing against this premise, and then attack the other two before making my case.

A. DETERRENCE

First and foremost, countless studies show that the death penalty DOES NOT WORK as a deterrent. A New York Times survey found that during the last 20 years, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48 to 101 percent higher than in states without the death penalty. Additionally, FBI data shows that all 14 states without capital punishment in 2008 had homicide rates at or below the national rate [1]. Study after study will show the same statistics. The fact remains that murder rates are not any lower in states that employ the DP, meaning it doesn't work at deterring murder thus negating Pro's premise that it does. If necessary, I will explain in future rounds all of the reasons why the DP has been proven not to work at preventing crime (murder).

B. SAFETY

Pro writes, "Seeing as the ideal government will protect its citizens, any murderer must be removed from even the slightest possibility of committing such crimes again." The obvious response to this contention is that enduring life in prison will have the same effect: convicted murderers will be kept off the streets thus unable to commit any more severe crimes.

C. JUSTICE

This is perhaps the most subjective criterion. I affirm that the death penalty does not achieve justice. As my opponent discussed in the last round, our justice system does not employ the "eye for an eye" mentality. We do not rape convicted rapists, or assault convicted assailants. Instead, we retract their right to freedom. Founding Father Patrick Henry infamously exclaimed, "Give me liberty or give me death!" In other words, to be void of freedom is comparable to death in the eyes of many. I will explain why alternatives to the death penalty can achieve justice far better than the DP itself, and how the DP actually fails to achieve justice.

== Arguments: Case Against the Death Penalty ==

Marquis de Lafayette once said, "I shall ask for the abolition of the punishment of death until I have the infallibility of human judgment demonstrated to me." In other words, the criminal justice system is composed of nothing but human beings who are capable of making mistakes. Unlike other punishments, the DP is uniquely irrevocable. If one is sentenced to death, there is no way to repeal the punishment upon new evidence that the convicted individual was actually innocent. While the chances of wrongful death seem small, on average there are more than 4 people wrongfully sentenced to death per year since the year 1900 [2]. That marks about 450 people in the last 110 years.

So I ask - was justice served to these individuals? Their lives were taken based on human error, and nothing can be done to restore their lives nor the lives of their friends and family who lost a loved one. Of course we cannot abolish the entire justice system because sometimes we make mistakes; however, we also cannot justify killing hundreds of innocent people when we could have implemented other ways to protect citizens and spare the lives of the innocents who were wrongly put to death.

As I've already mentioned, the DP simply does not deter murder therefore the only things we can seek to achieve while punishing murderers are safety and justice. I pointed out that spending life in prison can easily keep convicted murderers off the streets. Additionally, if a mistake was made, one can be released from prison whereas one's life cannot be restored upon death.

While Pro mentions the fact that people in jail get "free health care" and "endless cable television," what he forgets to mention is that people in jail also get raped and beaten. Fact: Around 2 million people are in U.S. prisons, and experts estimate that over a million (50+ percent) have been sexually assaulted behind bars over the last 20 years alone. Given that many inmates are assaulted on multiple occasions on a daily basis, the absolute number of sexual assaults committed behind bars may exceed the number committed everywhere else in the country put together [3]. In other words, life in prison isn't all fun and games as Pro implies.

Moreover, if Pro seeks justice in the sense that he wants murderers to suffer, then why not impose harsh conditions that would make life in prison seemingly unbearable? Examples include things like solitary confinement, and certainly not any cable privileges or privileges of any kind. A better idea would be to force slave labor upon murderers. In order to repay society for violating the social contract, convicts should be forced to do manual labor and provide other services to help alleviate the law abiding tax payers. In this way they are not only suffering, but also giving back to society.

When one dies at the hand of the DP, they are given a few lethal injections The first puts them to sleep (anesthetics) and then the others stop their breathing and then their heart in that order. In other words, the procedure is quick and completely painless. On the contrary, some crimes murderers have committed were completely horrific. How is justice being served if one dies brutally and mercilessly while their assailant dies pain-free? In many cases sometimes even a "last meal" is served. This, my friends, is not justice.

Another factor to consider is the psychological profile of a murderer. There are two types of murders: ones that are premeditated and ones that are not. If a murder is not premeditated, then it is considered a "crime of passion" by legal definition. In other words, these murders are the result of sudden outbursts and thus cannot be deterred - which once again dismantles the notion that a legalized DP would deter murder. Premeditated murders are often committed by those with severe psychological problems including sociopaths. These people are literally psychopaths with severe mental illnesses. Since one cannot be blamed for their own psychology, I once again pose the question of how justice is served by taking the life of an individual for something for which they are not entirely blameworthy. While it is not society's job to rehabilitate them, it's not fair to kill them for their illness. Many cannot control their behavior just as an asthmatic cannot control at times being short of breath.

Finally we must consider the reality that the great majority of individuals sentenced to death are those from impoverished backgrounds; namely minorities. In a debate of nature vs. nurture, these factors are relevant. Nevertheless, true justice would be served by keeping threats away from society, and retracting the freedom from those who have violated the social contract by committing heinous crimes. Life in prison keeps them off the street and ensures a grim fate. If we force slave labor upon them, then society is not only protected but also helped by the free services these criminals can provide. We can force them to do anything from cleaning highways to making clothes for poor children. Either way, their miserable lives would then revolve around paying a debt to society. It also ensures that if a mistake was made, it can be rectified. That is true justice.

== Sources ==

[1] http://www.amnestyusa.org...
[2] http://users.rcn.com...
[3] http://www.frumforum.com...
Debate Round No. 1
resolutionsmasher

Pro

resolutionsmasher forfeited this round.
Danielle

Con

Please extend my arguments. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2
resolutionsmasher

Pro

resolutionsmasher forfeited this round.
Danielle

Con

Unfortunately my opponent has forfeited this entire debate. Please extend all my arguments. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
theLwerd, Our comment debate is much better than the debate debate. The issue of whether the state is really a death penalty state is important for gang killings, the major category of premeditated murder. Stupidity in politicians is chronic, not acute, and various forms of release or endangerment is not so rare. Criminals definitely do give up evidence, like the location of the bodies or the evidence of other murders to escape the death penalty when they are getting lif instead. Indeed, there are still other issues ...
Posted by resolutionsmasher 4 years ago
resolutionsmasher
Lwerd, you stated to roy that just because stats aren't exact doesn't mean that they aren't bogus, I agree, but if the stats aren't exact then they aren't definite. if they aren't definite then why are you making such definite claims based on these indefinite stats?
Posted by resolutionsmasher 4 years ago
resolutionsmasher
I apologize and concede defeat due to my absence.
I was both hired for a full time night shift job and I was chosen for jury duty simultaneously the day after I sent that message to you lwerd. It's been nuts. but that was a good case.
Posted by Danielle 4 years ago
Danielle
A murderer weighing whether or not California is "really" a death penalty state or not is highly unlikely. Only nerds on debate.org would consider the statistics behind it. Most people just know "yes or no" as to whether or not their state has the DP. That said, even if one isn't actually executed they're still put on death row in a maximum security prison and will be spending dozens of years in jail, minimum.

So again I ask - would a killer rather face THAT lifestyle (along with the brutal beatings and rapings that occur in jail, which we can all seem to agree exist) or would they rather go down peacefully with a last meal and sedative? If I were convicted of a crime I would choose the latter even if (especially if) I were innocent. In other words, the prison lifestyle seems like far more of a deterrent than death. I agree that people are deterred for murder, but execution by the state is NOT the most likely deterrent. Losing freedom is. If we agree that one is on death row for a considerable amount of time prior to execution, then again I don't think it's the death itself that people would actually fear.

Nevertheless there are a whole bunch of other issues we didn't even get into since my opponent forfeited (such as giving 'the state' a.k.a. a dumb jury the right to take a life, and a bunch of other philosophical questions). This debate is also about pragmatism and practicality (costs, effects, etc.). Also I never said I was against increasing punishment or security on convicted murderers -- in fact I was for it -- meaning they wouldn't have the opportunity to kill people of lesser offenses or guards. The 1 famous case you mentioned is famous specifically because it is so unbelievably rare. WHY WOULD THEY LET CONVICTED FELONS OUT? That has absolutely nothing to do with the death penalty -- it was just a retarded mistake. My alternatives for murderers have been forcing slave labor, isolation and maximum security - not vacation time.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
I posed two challenges to the stats. One is cause and effect. States with high murder rates tend to have the death penalty because the homicide rate causes greater concern over the problem. Texas might be in that category. The other problem is that states vary tremendously in enforcement, so that one cannot neatly put a state into one category or the other. California has a death penalty, but it is *never* enforced, so even though it is technically a death penalty state, it really isn't.

Even though many murders are crimes of passion, not all of them are. A very large category of murder are street gang killings; it is a major cause of death of young people. Being a crime of passion doesn't imply that that the perp has no thought whatsoever for the consequences. People get very angry all he time, but only rarely do fits of rage end in homicide. The ones that stop short are deterred by something and fear of consequences is surely on that list.

I suppose if onvicted murders only killed each other off in prison that might be some sort of argument, although it ultimately fails because the state has an obligation to ct anyone who is in prison. The reality, however, is that convicted murders under life sentence have a free pass to kill guards and persons convicted of much lesser crimes. They also occasionally escape and kill innocent bystanders. In one famous case, politicians (Massachusetts Governor Dukakis) decided to let out prisoners on short furloughs, and that allowed a killer to kill a new victim. One might think that such stupidity couldn't happen, but it did.

A good debate topic.
Posted by Danielle 4 years ago
Danielle
Regarding stats on deterrence, death row is a lengthy process -- just because a state may actually follow the law and not execute 1,2,3 like Texas doesn't mean the DP is not enforced. There are 678 inmates on death row in California because of the system actually abiding by due process laws. If you want to abandon those laws to speed up the process of the DP then that's another story (taking away rights)... and would increase the chances of error from the hundreds I mentioned that were wrongly convicted.

The stats are not "bogus" even if they're not exact. NO STATS ARE. But years of studies in considering all factors show that deterrence simply does not work. Roy tries to make it seem as if it's the state's lackadaisical executions which make it not work, though the fact is that Texas is the most active state in the nation regarding executions and yet their murder rate is above average. Additionally most executions are done in the South where the homicide rates for all of those states are above average. So there goes that argument.

Also, as I've explained in the debate, since most murders are considered a crime of passion (impromptu) then whether the DP is legal or not has no bearing. I also don't understand how you seem favorable of the DP and yet complain that killers might kill each other in prison. Wouldn't them killing themselves speed up the process of their sentence that you're in favor for?
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
It is "capital offense." "Capitol offense" is something like electing Obama.

The first round looked promising, so too bad Pro forfeited.

That stats on deterrence are bogus because (a) states having the death penalty include those that have it in theory don't enforce -- in California criminals sometimes ask for the death penalty because death row has larger cells and (b) high murder rates seem to case enactment of death penalty, so cause and effect are unclear. Con admitted that many rimes are committed in prison. Clearly a death penalty would prevent murders from committing those crimes; they get a freess to murder inmates and guards. Of course, Pro had left the building and didn't make any of these arguments.
Posted by Derek.Gunn 4 years ago
Derek.Gunn
Surely it's "capital offences" - even in the United States?
Posted by resolutionsmasher 4 years ago
resolutionsmasher
how so
Posted by Kinesis 4 years ago
Kinesis
I think calling them 'capitol offences' is kinda begging the question. :D
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by resolutionsmasher 4 years ago
resolutionsmasher
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RoyLatham
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Vote Placed by Danielle 4 years ago
Danielle
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