The death penalty should be abolished in the United States of America
The United States of America should abolish the Death Penalty. My position on this is Con, therefore I will be arguing that the death penalty should not be abolished.
My opponent Midnight1131, will be arguing that it should be abolished. Since he is changing the status quo, the BOP will be on him.
First Round is acceptance.
2nd Round is only for arguments and no rebutalls.
3rd Round is for both rebutalls and additional arguments
4th Round is for rebutalls and conclusions only
Contention #1 Justice and Public Support
The death penalty demands that justice should be attributed to the victims of the family. In the United States of America, the Death Penalty is only reserved for the most serious crimes, and somebody he commits such a heinous act, is subject to this punishment. Most Americans recognize this principle as just, as 60% of Americans still believe that the DP is appropriate for homicide. (1)
The Deterrence Theory
The death penalty in fact, does deter crime. According to sources provided by Isaac Ehrlich, currently a University of Buffalo Distinguished Professor of Economics, he figured that according to the deterrence theory, criminals are no different from law-abiding people. Criminals "rationally maximize their own self-interest subject to constraints that they face in the marketplace and elsewhere. In other words, criminals will likely not commit the crime, if they feel the costs outweigh the benefits. (3) This theory serves as a deterence to crime, as a socioeconomic factor such as "fear" will keep criminals from committing addtional crimes. Several economists agree to this, regardign Issac Ehrlich studies, Professor Stephen K. Layson of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro reconfirmed his findings. Finally, according to "Joanna M. Shepherd", she concluding 3 factors after her studies. (4)
First, each execution, on average, is associated with three fewer murders. The deterred murders included both crimes of passion and murders by intimates.
Third, shorter waits on death row are associated with increased deterrence. For each additional 2.75-year reduction in the death row wait until execution, one murder is deterred.
One thing that the death penalty fulfills, is that it prevent recidivism from occuring. According to report published by th Bureau of Justice, it stats that out of 300,000 prisoners who were released in 1994, 67.5% of those criminals re-offended. (5) Out of those, 1.2% of those convicted of homicide were arrested for another homicide within three years of release.(5) These stats are quite high, as reoffending rates for homicide who re-offend between 6 months jump up to 12.5%. The only way to prevent these offenses from being commited again, is the death penalty. Even in jail itself, there is no gurantee that the criminal will not murder someone else. In another report by the Bureau of Justice, 2.1% of all deaths in prison, resulted from homicide. (6) This way, it is guranteed the death penalty would have saved lives.
Trends of different states and other correlations.
You can see here, in this particular graph, the Captial Punishments states are quite lower, compared to the Non-capital punishment states. Here is another interesting fact, when the death penalty was suspended nationwide from 1968 to 1976, the murder rate skyrocketed. By the time the the crime rate began to drop in the United States, those states with the DP actually witnessed a 39% larger drop in murder rates by 1998. (7)
Here are the statistics for New York. You can see, when the Death Penalty was re-established, you can see the drop in crime. (7)http://www.wesleylowe.com...; src="../../../photos/albums/1/2/1530/33374-1530-decvg-a.jpg" alt="http://www.wesleylowe.com...; />
And finally, another report done by the Bureau of Criminal Justice, shows that that when the execution rates were high, there generally were fewer murders. You can also see, during the 1960's and 1980's, when the death penalty was not used, murders skyrocked. (8)
3: Isaac Ehrlich, "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Question of Life and Death," American Economic Review, Vol. 65, No. 3 (1975), pp. 397-417, and Isaac Ehrlich, "Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Some Further Thoughts and Additional Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 85 (August, 1977), pp. 741-788.
4: Joanna M. Shepherd, "Murders of Passion, Execution Delays, and the Deterrence of Capital Punishment," Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 33 (June 2004), pp. 283-321.
Contention 1 – Cost
The average cost of defending a trial in a federal death penalty case is $620,932, this costs around 8 times more than a trial in which the death penalty is not sought [1.] A study  out of Seattle University found that each death penalty case costs an average of $1 million more than a similar case where the death penalty was no pursued. The figures come out to $3.07 million in a case pursuing the death penalty, compared to $2.01 million, for a similar case, but in which the death penalty was not sought. This study only examined cases in Washington, that that occurred since 1997. Using only these cases, the gross bill to taxpayers for the death penalty is around $120 million. Since the reinstatement of Washington's death penalty, it has carried out 5 executions, this implies a cost of around $24 million per execution. A recent study out of Nevada  revealed that murder cases which seek the death penalty can cost nearly twice as much as those with a lesser punishment. In a murder case where the death penalty is not sought, the average cost to the public is $775,000. And in Kansas, a study coming from the Kansas Judicial Council examined 34 potential death penalty cases from 2004 - 2011, the study found that defending a death penalty case costs about 4 times as much as defending a similar case where the death penalty is not sought. These are three studies from different states, which agree that death penalty cases cost the public and the government much more money than non-death penalty cases. Donald McCartin, a judge from Orange County, stated that “it’s 10 times more expensive” to kill an inmate than to keep them alive. This is a judge who has sentenced nine people to death row [10.]
It’s also worth noting that prisoners generally spend 20 years on death row before their execution, due to mandatory appeals. This wait time has an estimated annual cost of $137,102 [13.] Estimated cost to taxpayers during this period could come up to a total of $2,742,040. This is on top of the cost of the case itself.
Let’s compare this cost to life imprisonment. Please note this is a comparison of the cost of one death penalty case, which comes out to the following figures. $3.07 million dollars in the study out of Seattle University. In Washington, the gross bill for 5 executions since 1997 has been $120 million. Which comes out to $24 million per execution.
Now, according to statistics provided by the office of California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst, the current cost of keeping one inmate in state prison is $47,102 per year [13.] The Department of Corrections places the number at $44,563 [13.] Let’s assume an inmate was sentenced to life without parole when they were 30 years old. We’ll give them an optimistic age of death at the age of 80. This is 50 years in prison.
44,563*50 = 2,228,150. So this is 2.2 million. This cost is already $1 million less than the average cost of a death penalty case according to the Seattle University study.
Contention 2 – Errors
This was the reason that I first started to oppose the death penalty, before I was aware of its other shortcomings. In the USA, there have been 329 post-conviction exonerations in the history of the nation [7.] Some of these people have been held on death row since the 80's. This here, proves that the justice system is capable of making mistakes, and is not foolproof. Also, the death penalty information centre released a list  of 10 executed inmates, whose cases have been reviewed, and they found enough evidence to possibly prove their innocence. But of course, most courts will not review cases in which the defendant has already been killed. In the US, there have been around 16 wrongful convictions of people which resulted in executions, then posthumously, they were declared innocent [9.] So, this shows that the justice system in America is not foolproof, and has made many mistakes in the past, and the prospect of accidentally killing innocents is unacceptable in today’s society.
Contention 3 – Ineffective at Reducing Crime
First off, let’s compare two states. Texas and Vermont. Vermont abolished the death penalty in 1965, and the last time a prisoner was executed there was in 1954 [11.] Even without the death penalty, Vermont is one of the safest states in America, with a rate of 1.6 murders per 100,000 people in 2013 [12.] Compare this to Texas, which has the highest amount of executions performed, and a crime rate of 4.3 murders per 100,000 people in 2013 [12.] Interestingly enough, Vermont [a state with no death penalty,] has a lower crime rate than the following states where the death penalty has not been abolished [12.] [All data from 2013]
Please note that I could make the same comparison with Iowa, a state that has a lower crime rate than Vermont [1.4,] and also abolished the death penalty.
A 2009 survey of leading criminologists in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology showed that over 88% of them say that the death penalty is NOT a deterrent to murder [5.] In fact, murder rates in states without the death penalty has remained lower than states with the death penalty for the last 25 years.
A study also compared the US to 25 other developed countries, and it showed that the US has the highest rates of childhood homicide in the developed world. Almost all the other countries that were looked at had abolished the death penalty [6.] So it is clear, the death penalty does not deter crime. In fact, the murder rate in death penalty states combined has remained significantly lower than that in non-death penalty states combined. As you can see in the 2nd graph above, murder rates have been higher by as much as 44% in death penalty states.
I can give many more examples. One being the state of California. Executions there stopped in 2006, and since then, the NC department of Justice has observed a decline in murder rates and violent crime [14.]
Contention 1: Cost
According to the studies provided by Con, he demostrates that most DP cases cost more than LWP cases. However, these stats provided do not take in factor of Plea Bargaining. What exactly is Plea bargaining? It is an arrangement between a prosecutor and a defendant whereby the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge in the expectation of leniency. Most often that not, plea bargaining is used to to avoid the cost of the DP by substancial amounts, and will result in a cheaper case. The costs for LWP are usually over exxgarated, as the amount of time a prisoner serves and what type of prison it essentially is playing into factor. These costs provided by Con which are $44, 563, do not represent the costs of all DP cases across the country. Also, these estimates, do not take Plea Barganing into factor.
Con makes a mistake here. He mentions., "44,563*50 = 2,228,150. So this is 2.2 million" So basically, this is the cost of keeping a prisoner in jail, "after" he has been sentenced. If you take the cost of the LWP case in the first place, you would see that the cost is actually 2.2million+ 2.01 million (cost of the LWP case) So, using the statistics provided by Con, you can see the costs are actually higher, when we take the costs of the LWP case, and the actual cost of keeping the criminal in jail itself. Then again, it isn't an accurate measure this, because rates vary across states. Some states might be more expensive than others, and like I mentioned again, this study doesn't support Plea Bargaining like I mentioned.
Also, the cost of the DP varies among the juristrictions of different states. In some cases, it has been shown that the cost of the DP was pretty much the same as the LWP case. This trend was discovered by Sorenson and Rocky Leann Pilgrim published evidence that found that the cost of an LWOP case in Texas and a DP were the same.
Another factor that must be taken into factor is the dettering factor. According to Mr.Lott, who wrote a book on the effects of the DP, he estimated, that after calculating all other variables, the DP actually prevented 12% to 14% of crime that could have occured in the 90's, when the crime rate was quite high. In this case, the DP actually prevented murders from occuring in the first place. If you go back to my first source from Ms. Shepard, she figured that one execution was roughly equalivlent to preventing a total of 3 murders.
Contention 2: Errors
Con's first statement " Some of these people have been held on death row since the 80's. This here, proves that the justice system is capable of making mistakes, and is not foolproof." Is not quite right. Inmates who have been placed in death row, are simply waiting for their execution, and have a chance to be released if they are innocent. LWP which contains the words "without parole" are not going to be looked at, if you by chance the criminal is innocent, hence is why there is no parole. Atleast with the DP, innocents have a chance to prove themselves, and 67% of the time, Death rows inmates have been released.
So, which sentence seems more fair? LWOP sentences receive no special consideration on appeal, which limits the possibility they will be reduced or reversed. A person sentenced to die in prison receives only one automatic appeal, not several, and is not provided any court-appointed attorneys after this appeal is complete, usually within two years of the initial sentence.
Regarding the amount of wrongful executions, Con must prove that those wrongful executions , outweigh the number of innocent lived from these executions, because the BOP is on him. Let me address the wrongful executions. In this case, it actually does make sense that the DP has a high rate of exonerations, because it means that those who have been wrongfully been convicted, can be free.
LWP victims are literally stuck in jail until they die. Lets do some quick math, and using Con's own statistics, I show what that % looks like. 6/1,412= 0.004% of prisoners have been wrongfully executed, and Con himself says that only 9 of them have been confirmed. Since, the DP has saved numerous amount of lives (referring to the 28% I mentioned earlier) I see no reason to abolish it. With newer technology, DNA testing, and a panel of juries, the error rate will only lower, and clearly the # of lives saved outweighs the 0.004% of wrongful executions.
Contention 3 – Ineffective at Reducing Crime
Con makes an interesting correlation between 2 states. Vermont and Texas. He seems to think that Vermont's low crime is because they abolished the death penalty. I really do not see how this correlation makes sense. According to Con, he says that Vermont abolished the death penalty in 1965. So, lets look at Vermont's crime rate prior to 1965. From 1960 to 1965, There were 1,6,1,2,2,2 murders, in that particular order. Now, right after the abolishment, you can see the rise in murder rates. Numbers that were once in single digits, are now in double digits. I'm not trying to argue that this was because of the abolishment of the DP, but rather different variabes went into play. I learned this from my friend Hitchslap "Correlation doesn't equal Causation".
Now, when you compare Vermont's crime rate from 1960, to Texas's from 1960, you can already see that Vermont was already safer prior to the abolishment. So, it doesn't nesscarily mean that Texas didn't reduce crime from the DP. All those states that Con mentioned already had higher crime rates than what Vermont had. Like I mentioned before in my opening arguments, states with with Capital punishment actually witnessed a larger drop in crime, compared to those with non-capital punishment. This was in the late 90's when the crime rates were beggining to drop nationwide.
Con brings another non-related variable into play. He argues that the U.S.A has the highest homicide rates among developed nations, so this alone would mean that the DP is the reason for this. No proof as been provided by Con, that the DP is responsible, for not deterring crime, as other factors go into play. It is also interesting that Con brings up "developed nations" because why would being developed matter if the only variable was the DP? If the DP variable was accurate, he could have brought up a country like Haiti, because they outlawed the DP, yet their homicide rate is double of what the U.S experiences.
The following is a response to my opponent’s arguments from Round 2.
RC 1: Justice and Public Support
This is a weird argument, as it concerns morals, and morals aren’t objective.
Definitions – From Oxford Dictionaries
Morals: a person's standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do:
Ethical: of or relating to moral principles
RC 1.1 - This argument cannot be taken seriously, as my opponent’s main point is that it’s “ethical” to kill someone who has murdered. However ethics and morals are specific to each person, and everyone they differ per person. This argument is subjective to the person, and their moral compass, and therefore cannot be looked at objectively.
My opponent states that the death penalty demands that justice should be attributed to the victims of the family, and it’s reserved for the most serious crimes, heinous acts, etc. My opponent states that if you violate the right to life, you don’t deserve it yourself. What my opponent is arguing for a retributivist theory. The guilty will be punished in proportion to their level of wrongdoing. A retributivist system is one that supports “justice” over “mercy.”
Justice – Just behaviour or treatment; fair treatment
Mercy - compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm
RC 1.2 - My opponent places great importance on justice, which is fair enough. However it is also ethical to practice mercy. We can all agree that a system that is focused on rehabilitation is more desirable. My opponent himself says that the victim and the victim’s family cannot be restored to the status which preceded the murder. Some might argue that it’s not ethical to kill someone over something that can’t be reversed, and ignore options of rehabilitation.
RC 2 – Deterrence
RC 2.1 - Here my opponent cites the deterrence effect out of a study done by Isaac Ehrlich, as well as a study done by Joanna Shepherd. First I will examine Ehrlich’s study. A paper  by economic and public policy professor Justin Wolfers, and law professor and economic John J. Donohue, examines this very study. Ehrlich’s study found that each execution yielded 8 fewer homicides. However this isn’t in line with the fact that there’s been an 80% drop in the rate of executions since the 1930’s, which has been accompanied by lowering murder rates.
This graph  shows the number of executions that have taken place in the USA. Focus on that drastic drop starting from 1930.
Now we’ll look at this graph. You can see that again, around the 1930’s, there is a huge drop in the homicide rate. If Shepherd’s conclusions that my opponent used were correct, that each execution is associated with 3 fewer murders, or as Ehrlich concluded, “each execution yields 8 fewer homicides”, then this drop shouldn’t have happened at all. Correlation does not imply causation, the amount of executions taking place obviously does not affect the crime rate. These statistics, which show that the rate of crime dropped alongside a considerable drop in the number of executions prove just that. In fact, there isn’t even a strong correlation here, if there was, the crime rate should’ve risen higher, not dropped. So my opponent’s statement that each execution prevents 3 murders has been shown to be false, as there is no considerable correlation. The death penalty does not deter crime.
RC 2.2 – Recidivism
My opponent brings up an interesting point here, he basically states that criminals who are executed will not reoffend. In 2014, 30 inmates were executed in the US [3.] According to the government report my opponent provided, 300,000 prisoners were released, and out of them 67.5% were rearrested within 3 years. This comes out to 202,500 reoffending prisoners. The following is how many prisoners out of that batch of 300,000 were serving time for which sentence, again, from my opponent’s source.
Violent Crime - 22.5%
Property – 33.5%
Drugs – 32.6%
Public-order – 9.7%
Other – 1.7%
You can see here that 77.5% of these inmates were serving time for a NON VIOLENT CRIME. I seriously doubt that my opponent was advocating for the execution of these prisoners for committing non-violent crimes, which the majority of them did. When my opponent was giving his statistics from this source, he didn’t mention that most of these crimes were non-violent, and undeserving of the death penalty in the first place. No one should be executed because they committed property crime, were released, and committed property crime again. My opponent also states that there is no guarantee that a criminal will not harm someone while in prison. Again, there are many non-violent offenders in prison, and there is no guarantee that they will not harm anyone there, executing them is not the answer, as their crime is not fitting of the death penalty. Also, there is no way of knowing whether or not inmates convicted of non-violent crimes will harm someone in prison, therefore we can’t execute them before they harm another inmate, because the original crime they were convicted for isn’t deserving of capital punishment. Now we will examine my opponent’s stats referring to homicide alone. The report states that 1.7% of 272,111 inmates were arrested for homicide. This is roughly 4,625 inmates. Out of these my opponent states that 1.2% reoffended. This comes to a total of 55 reoffenders. This statistic is not huge as my opponent states.
RC 3 – Trends of different states and other correlations
Before I start, I’d like to clarify that my opponent is trying to prove there is a correlation between the death penalty and crime rates, whereas I’m trying to prove that there isn’t.
RC 3.1 – Figure 3
This graph that my opponent shows is quite misleading. First they state that the murder rate skyrocketed when the death penalty was suspended nationwide from 1968 to 1976. This graph does not show murder rates from that time period. But anyways, that rise in crime rates does not prove that the death penalty deters crime, because, as I showed before, crime rates fell alongside the number of executions since 1930 for many years. If there truly was a correlation, those crime rates would never have fallen with the number of executions going down so drastically. Also, these murder rates are from 1977 – 1998. I already showed in many graphs from round 2 that in modern times, non-capital punishment states have much lower rates of crime.
RC 3.2 – Figure 11.3
This is not a correlation. My opponent says you can see the drop in crime after the death penalty was re-established. However, correlation does not imply causation. You can already see that, because again, as I mentioned before, lower execution numbers were followed by lower crime rates for many years. The fact that less application of the death penalty has resulted in BOTH rising and lowering crime rates shows that there is NO CORRELATION.
That’s all for this round. I’ll give it back to my opponent for their continued rebuttals and conclusions.
Con has to prove that all Americans would agree that rehabilitation is more desirable. I'm sure there is a difference in killing of a murderer, and an innocent man. The first guy, I mentioned violated the law of the United States. therefore is subject the laws of the country. Con is saying that morals are subjective to each person, however the majority of Americans, do favor this punishment. It would make sense to suit the majority population. Not all homicide cases are ruled eligible for the DP. Only those in which the Jury decides are deemed eligible. So, to a certain extent, Americans are not against rehabilation.
To begin with, Pro's source does not work, and him providing the source had 0 relavance to his rebutall. Pro seems to interpret that that the execution rates, directly effect the homicide rate. This comparison itself is wrong. If you go back to my earlier round, I said each execution is associated with 3 fewer murders, so, the execution prevented an additional 3 murders. Another professor, John Lott, confirmed these trends. He estimated, that after calculating all other variables, the DP actually prevented 12% to 14% of crime that could have occured in the 90's, when the crime rate was quite high. In this case, the DP actually prevented murders from occuring in the first place. (1)
Also, Pro is literally using statistics that range across 50 states. This itself is unfair, because some states had the DP, and some did not. Some states already had high crime rates, and some had some lower ones. What we really need to look at, is which states witnessed a larger drop in crime. I already proved in the first round, DP states witnessed a larger drop in crime, than the states without the DP. Although not 100% accurate, it is more accurate in determining whether the DP deters crime, rather than comparing all 50 states, and stating the DP does not deter crime. Therectically speaking, even if the DP prevented 1 murder from occuring, that would count as detterance. What Pro is trying to say is that it the overall murder rate still rose, but this was also occured when the United States temporally abolished the DP, there isn't a clear correlation in Pro's statement that shows the DP did not deter crime, because he compared the entire countries homicide rate and did not take in factor, when the DP was abolished temporally.
Regarding my opponent rebutall for Recidivism, no where did I state that non-violent criminals should be subject of the DP. This simply is a assumption. I even stated, "Out of those, 1.2% of those convicted of homicide were arrested for another homicide within three years of release.(5) These stats are quite high, as reoffending rates for homicide who re-offend between 6 months jump up to 12.5%. Even with the 22.5% of violent crime cases, that still is a very high number, considering that 22.5% of 300,00 is around 50 to 60 K of prisoners who reoffended. Also, my Pro ignores when I said "1.2% of homicides were arrested "within three years of release" So, the stats he gave are only for those within 3 years of release. I already mentioned earlier, reoffending rates for homicide who re-offend between 6 months jump up to 12.5%. Pro concedes my arguments regarding prisoners who murdered other prisoners while in prison themselves. So far, Pro has not really refuted how the DP actually prevents recidivism, but rather it does it small amount. This itself is a concession, and Pro actually misquoted what I said, so the numbers are much higher than what he proposed.
I was not actually referring to graph itself when I said that, but Pro can look at the graph he provided us to understand how the murder rate rose. Pro's graph regarding executions isn't entirely accurate either, because I mentioned before, the DP is simply one of the variables that effect the crime rate, not the only one. I already demostrated, that most non-DP states, already had lower crime rates than DP states, so simply saying the DP does not reduce crime, because of that, is incorrect. All of these arguments get refuted by the source I provided earlier. DP states witnessed a larger drop in crime, than non-DP states. It may not be the only variable that went into factor, but it certainly did factor in the detterance. Since the BOP is on Pro, he needs to show that abolishing the DP would not play any factor in the crime rates. He has yet to do it, because he compared different states, with either very high or very low murder rates, and came to the conclusion the DP does not deter crime, even though other state he mentioned already had a lower crime rate, compared the other one. (reffering to the Texas and Vermont comparision)
So far, I do not believe Pro has provided substancial evidence for the DP to be abolished in the United States. I have already refuted that the costs of LWP do not factor Plea Bargaining, and even in some juristrictions, the cost for LWP and DP are the same. I have shown that the # of lives saved from the the DP, is far more than the wrongful executions, and Capital punishment states witnessed a larger drop in crime that their counterparts. For these reasons I mentioned above, I believe that the DP should remain, as it serves as a detterance to crime.
Thank you Midnight for this debate.
Note* My stat regarding 67% of DR prisoners are released is false. Please disregard that
Sources (also from my previous round)
. Sorensen, Jonathan R., and Rocky LeAnn Pilgrim. Lethal Injection: Capital Punishment in Texas during the Modern Era. Austin, TX: University of Texas, 2006.
The following is defense from Con’s rebuttals in Round 3.
Here is the link to the Wolfers and Donohue paper that didn’t work before.
DRC 1: Cost
DRC 1.1: Plea Bargaining
First my opponent talks about plea bargaining. First I’ll take a look at plea bargaining in relation to the death penalty. Most death penalty supporters, when talking about plea bargaining, say it’s just a bargaining chip that prosecutors use to secure life without parole please. First off, the data about plea deals and their relation to the death penalty is lacking. Comprehensive studies have found no connection between the death penalty and the frequency of plea bargaining [1.] In fact, there is very little difference between DP states and non-DP states when it comes to plea bargaining, and it’s effectiveness to gain long prison sentences [2.] So now we know that plea bargaining isn’t a good argument against the DP, but I will bring it more to the point now, concerning cost. My opponent states that the studies I provided don’t take plea bargaining into account, but hasn’t actually shown that plea bargaining is a common procedure. My opponent simply states that plea bargaining is used to avoid the cost of the DP, but provides no source for it. The source that they did provide was a link to a journal which states the following “empirical research addressing the use of the death penalty as leverage is largely lacking.” The link that my opponent cited even agrees that the prominence or any stats concerning the use of the death penalty as leverage in plea bargaining is not supported by any concrete research. Also, Pro hasn’t actually found any faults in the studies I cited, he assumes that they have not taken into account plea bargaining. However if there is a DP case where plea bargaining is involved, would that case still be counted as a DP case? If so, then it would’ve been included in my studies. If it wasn’t counted as a DP case, then it’s completely irrelevant to the topic at hand. Both ways, this plea bargaining rebuttal is unfounded and irrelevant.
DRC 1.2: The Studies I Mentioned Earlier
My opponent makes some mistakes here. First off, I’d like to mention that they said “The costs for LWP are usually over exaggerated, as the amount of time a prisoner serves and what type of prison it essentially is playing into factor.” My opponent basically made an argument for me. I’d like to remind them that they were trying to prove that LWP costs MORE than a DP case, not less.Secondly, they use the study out of Seattle when comparing costs with California. I actually have a study  concerning the DP costs in California specifically, by Judge Arthur Alarcon and Prof. Paula Mitchell. This study concluded that the cost of on DP case in California comes out to $4.6 billion overall. This is includes trial costs, automatic appeals and state habeas corpus petitions, federal habeas corpus appeals, and the costs of incarceration. I’ll break down the costs per case. The study states that the cost for housing death row inmates comes to $90,000 per year [3.] The average time, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics [4,] spent between sentencing and execution was, in 2012, 190 months. Which is 15.8 years, on average. So, the annual cost of $90,000, multiplied by the 15 years the inmate will spend being incarcerated before death row, and the cost comes out to $1.35 million, simply for housing death row inmates. So add that to the costs. Federal Habeas Corpus appeals add on more costs in fact. The CJA panel of California [3,] spends roughly $635,000 per case, and the Federal Public Defender Capital Habeas Units [3,] spend roughly $1.58 million per case. Add these two figures together, and it comes out to $2.215 million. Now we’ll add the previous cost for housing inmates, 1.35 million, and it comes out to $3.565 million per case. But we’re not done yet, the study found that capital trials in California cost on average an additional $1 million more than non-capital cases. How do we know this, the total trial and pre-trial costs since 1978 comes out to $1.94 billion. Divide this by the total amount of capital trials in California since 1978, 1,940 approximately, and you come out to a total of $1 million per case, in pre-trial and trial costs. Add this to our previous total, and we have a final amount of $4.565 million per case. This is the true cost of a death penalty case in California, and it’s more accurate than the numbers my opponent presented, which were out of a Seattle study, not California. Even if we use his inaccurate numbers, the cost of keeping a prisoner in jail in California, plus the cost of a LWP case in Seattle, this comes out to $4.422 million. This inaccurate figure, when compared to the accurate figure of the cost of the DP in California which I presented, $4.565 million per case, you can see is considerably cheaper. My opponent then talks about how the cost of the DP caries among different states and jurisdictions, however he only provides one example, Texas, in which the costs were the SAME. However I provided many more examples, including California, Seattle, and Washington, where the costs of a DP case were significantly HIGHER than those of a LWP case. My opponent has not even mentioned the reports from Washington and Seattle, choosing only to focus on the California figures, which I already proved to be incorrect.
DRC 1.3 – Deterrence
My opponent briefly mentions deterrence, but this has nothing to do with the cost, and I already refuted this in detail in Rounds 3 and 1.
In conclusion, my opponent did not object to the results of the studies out of Washington and Seattle, so those arguments were dropped. My opponent simply targeted the cost in California, which I have here proved is still higher for DP cases than non DP cases. It stands, the DP costs more than LWP.
DRC 2 – Errors
DRC 2.1 – The system is not foolproof
My opponent here says that my statements of the system not being foolproof is incorrect. Because they have a chance to be released if they are innocent. However that wasn’t the point of my original statement, which was showing the ridiculously high amount of post-conviction exonerations, which were overturned many years later. This in itself shows the justice system is not foolproof, if it was, then these people would not have spent years in jail and had their lives ruined. The point I made here was that the justice system can, and has made mistakes, and that is a reason it should not be allowed to carry out irreversible punishments, when in the past it has demonstrated it can make mistakes, and convict innocents.
DRC 2.2 - Wrongful Executions
My opponent states here that I must prove that the wrongful executions “outweigh” the number of innocent lives saved from those executions. This is a straw man. My opponent hasn’t at all justified keeping a system in place, which has in the past killed innocent people. Instead he simply directed the conversation to his statistic which states that somehow, one execution prevents 3 murders, a statement and study which qualified and respected law professors have shown to be false. [Refer to Round 3, RC2 – Deterrence.] This wrongful executions argument still stands, my opponent has not refuted it at all, and has not shown how it is morally justified to keep a system in place where innocents can and have been killed.
DRC 3 – Ineffective at Reducing Crime
DRC 3.1 – Correlation does not imply Causation
My opponent here states, and argues that correlation doesn’t equal causation. I actually do agree with that. And I will explain why this is beneficial to my side of the debate. This entire argument was me showing how the DP HASN’T BEEN EFFECTIVE AT REDUCING CRIME. This argument has included many things, such as DP states having higher crime rates, and the rise and fall of the number of executions not correlating with the rise and fall of murder rates. My opponent actually proves me right here, because they themselves are saying that the DP doesn’t correlate to lower or higher crime rates, I can even quote him, “I'm not trying to argue that this was because of the abolishment of the DP, but rather different variables went into play.” No correlation between the DP and crime rates favours abolition in the end. The fact that even my opponent has tried to show that there is no correlation between the DP and crime rates, shows that it’s obvious, the DP is ineffective at crime. There are variables that in reality do affect the crime rates, the DP isn’t one of them. In the end, no correlation between the DP and crime rates is what I was trying to prove, as there being none shows that it is ineffective at reducing crime, and my opponent even agrees with me, and tries to prove it himself in their rebuttal concerning this.
This concludes my defences and counter-rebuttals. As agreed, I have not added counter rebuttals to what my opponent wrote in Round 4, because they’d have no chance to respond to them. I’d like to thank Tajshar2k for this fun and interesting debate.
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