The Instigator
Pro (for)
5 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
1 Points

The death penalty should be banned in the United States.

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/14/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,834 times Debate No: 37713
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)




Death Penalty - the punishment of execution, administered to someone legally convicted of a capital crime.

Banned - officially or legally prohibit.

R1: acceptance

R2 : Present our cases no rebuttals

R3: Direct rebuttals and crystallizing initial points and closing statements

I have set the criteria so that no one may accept this. If you wish to accept it leave a comment and I will pick an adversary.


I accept. :) Thank you, Mikal, for letting me have this.
Debate Round No. 1


I am going to go straight into my contentions to save space, but would like to thank Justin for accepting the challenge.

Contention 1

Ineffective Deterrent

The death penalty itself does not accomplish what it should. While it does seek to end the life of criminals who have committed extremely severe crimes, the penalty itself was also put in place as a deterrent to prevent future crimes from happening. Basically if people saw they could die for committing murder, it would reduce the rate of homicides that occur. The desired outcome is not being achieved within this aspect. Most of this nations leading Criminologist accept this as well. A recent study shows this

"A recent survey of the most leading criminologists in the country found that the overwhelming majority did not believe that the death penalty is a proven deterrent to homicide. Eighty-eight percent of the country’s top criminologists do not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to homicide"[1]

So the next most logical question, is why do the best in the nation not accept the fact that it acts as a deterrent? It is because of the studies done involving the rate of homicides. Statistics show this

"States in the United States that do not employ the death penalty generally have lower murder rates than states that do. The same is true when the U.S. is compared to countries similar to it. The U.S., with the death penalty, has a higher murder rate than the countries of Europe or Canada, which do not use the death penalty."[2]

There are lower murder rates in states who do not use the death penalty when compared to states who practice it.

Even the people whom support the death penalty acknowledge that the number of homicides it prevents is small. It is shown that only 18 homicides are prevented yearly because of the death penalty.

"Using a panel data set of over 3,000 counties from 1977 to 1996, Professors Hashem , Rubin, Shepherd of Emory University found on a yearly average capital punishment prevents 18 fewer murders."[3]

With the death penalty being as severe as it is, you would think it would serve as a better way to prevent crime. Among the nations leading criminologist including people who don't support the penalty and do support the penalty, almost all of them acknowledge that the results of the penalty in the prevention of crime are questionable. With over 88 percent of the top criminologist in the nation acknowledging that is does not properly deter crime, we can logically conclude that it does not meet its initial purpose.

Contention 2

Violation of human rights and the right to life

This speaks for itself but the penalty itself specifically violates someones right to life. The Pro penalty side of this argument, normally states that taking someones life can be justified in certain situations. An article by people whom support it says this

"The taking of human life has been strongly condemned by most world religions and philosophies over the centuries"[4]

Needless to say that line of thought is flawed, because taking someone elses is life is normally only justified in sitatuions like self defense. I will get to that in a second as well. A vast majority of other countries have acknowledged this is a violation of human rights, and a good number of those countries have fewer homicide rates than we do. A recent paper by the executive director of information of the death penalty shows this

"The reasons why countries have abolished the death penalty in increasing
numbers vary. For some nations, it was a broader understanding of human rights.
Spain abandoned the last vestiges of its death penalty in 1995, stating that: "the death
penalty has no place in the general penal system of advanced, civilized societies . . . .
What more degrading or afflictive punishment can be imagined than to deprive a person
of his life . . . ?"6 Similarly, Switzerland abolished the death penalty because it
constituted as "a flagrant violation of the right to life and dignity."[5]

The one thing everyone is promised in this country, and almost any country is the right to life. In this country it goes a little deeper. We are promised the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as guaranteed by the declaration of independence.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it"[6]

There are certain situations that trump the right to life. One of which is murder in self defense. If you are put into a situation in which you must kill to save your life, you are permitted the right to end someones life because of the danger you are in. The person is directly promising or attempting to cause harm to your body and or end your life. This is also called justifiable homicide

Justifiable Homicide - This term applies to the blameless killing of a person, such as in self-defense. [7]

Killing someone because they did bad, does not fall into this category. We have no right to end someones else s life because they chose to do the same. By doing this it also brings up a majority of other questions. What happens when we kill someone and after they are dead, we find out they are innocent. This is directly relevant to states like Texas where they are trying to put in a express lane. Even in regards to situations that have happened in the past. We could very well have wrongly executed someone based on a wrong verdict. If we have made this mistake before, we can and will make it again. Here is just one circumstance that occurred in 1989

"Carlos DeLuna was put to death in December 1989 for a murder in Corpus Christi. But he didn't commit the crime. Today, his case reminds us of the glaring flaws of capital punishment."[8]

Again this is just one situation that stuck out. If it has happened in one, there are probably multiple others that have occured that we are not aware of and that will continue to occur. One study and article shows this

"Executing the innocent: Hundreds of people have been released from death row after being found innocent of the crime for which they were convicted. For others, serious doubts about their guilt didn't come to light until it was too late. We cannot risk executing even one innocent person."[9]

One reason this can occur is because of who represents someone. People who can not afford representation will be presented representation. Sadly some people are better at what they do than others, so in a lot of ways money plays a huge factor in who is guilty and who is not. Also referred to as lack of effective counsel. [9]

"Lack of effective counsel: Many capital defenders lack the resources and training to provide adequate counsel to their clients. Unfortunately, quality of counsel is a good predictor of who will live and who will face execution.[9]"

Contention 3

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

This speaks for itself but the 8th amendment promises us this.

"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."[10]

No matter what type of semantics anyone uses, the death penalty is cruel and unusual. Cruel because it is taking their life, and unusual because it is just that.

Commonly killing someone because of a crime is cruel and unusual, not to mention the gas chamber and even injections.

"Execution methods: There are significant problems with the five methods currently used to execute people (lethal injection, electrocution, firing squad, hanging and the gas chamber), all of which violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment"[9]

In Closing

The death penalty in the past has thought to deter crime and prevent murders from happening. What we now know shows the opposite. Through multiple studies and surveys we can clearly see it does not deter crime enough to keep it implemented. It violates a persons right to life, and risks executing innocent people in the process. It steps on the declaration of independence and the 8th amendment. A vast majority of countries have abolished this for the same reasons, and have seen effective results with other deterrents. We are far to civilized and rational society to keep this type of practice in place



Since, as negative, I must only support the status quo, and since my points as the negative team are just rebuttals to my opponents original contentions, I will not be bringing up any contentions. I cannot yet respond to my opponent's contentions due to his establishment of said rules in Round 1. Please note that this is not an attempt to rid my opponent of a response, but rather an act of adherence to the previously established structure.

In the next round, I will be demonstrating how the death penalty is an effective deterrant, it is moral, and it is Constitutional.

With a lack of arguments on my part for this round, I would encourage my opponent to add as much backup information and argumentation to his current contentions as he desires. Then, I will rebut. It appears as if, under the current structure, my opponent will not get a chance to respond. Please note that, again, this was not my doing, and I find it most unfortunate.

Best of luck to you, Mikal.

Debate Round No. 2


I am not sure if my adversary ran out of time or just did not want to build a case. While he is supporting the death penalty, it is still his responsibility to build a case as to why he supports it. Simply saying that he supports it because it is the status quo is not a viable contention and leaves me with nothing to refute. R1 clearly shows this. While removing the death penalty can be viewed as changing the "status quo", that is only in regards to some states. Other options to the death penalty are already established and in place, the main one being life in prison without release. There are currently 32 states who have the death penalty, and 18 who chose not to use it [1]. So this would only be changing the status quo in those specific states, and having them adopt the methods of the states who have chosen not to use it. So in essence, it really is not changing the status quo in the way my adversary is claiming it is.

Since he has chosen not to build a case and only to offer rebuttals, this leaves me with no contentions to refute. He has not provided or shown any reasons as to why the death penalty should remain in place which was outlined in R1 as the purpose of this round

"R2 : Present our cases no rebuttals"

Thus according to my previously established rules, the only thing I can do is crystallize the points that I have already made. It is a shame he has chosen not to present a case and drop this round. Since he has offered no reasons as to why he supports the death penalty, I will spend the rest of this round rebuilding my initial contentions.

Contention 1

Ineffective Deterrent

As I have previously shown the death penalty in itself does not act as proper deterrent. We can see from my previous sources that it is estimated that only 18 murders are prevented per year because of the fear the death penalty provides.

So the next thing we need to look at is how many people are executed on a yearly basis. In 2012 only 43 people were executed with 77 new inmates receiving the sentence and facing execution in the upcoming years[2]. So just for the sake of argument let's do some math. Pretend all the stats that I have shown are wrong, and it deters more than 18 murders a year ( this contradicts all of the evidence I have provided, but just hypothetically). Let's assign a number to this. Let's say per execution it deters 10 homicides. With there being 43 executions yearly that would be 43 X 10 = 430. So it has possibly and I do emphasize possibly prevented 430 murders. In a given year around 16,000 -17,000 people are victims of homicide[3]

So it could possibly prevent 430 homicides out of 17,000.

430 murders out of 17,000 is only around 2.17 percent. This is just with murders that have no cause. Take all the other type of murders and that number increases to nearly 35,000[4]. So if you were take 430 and find what percentage it is of the total murders that occur, it is verily over 1 percent. 1.2 to be exact.

Now lets take the actual numbers according to statistics. It is believed to prevent 18 murders on a yearly basis. 18 murders out of 17,000 is verily over 1 percent. It is around 1.05 or so. Now in the same way lets compare it to the total murder rate. 18 out of 35,000 is .51! It is under half a percent of murders that it is preventing. To say that the death penalty is a proper deterrent is wrong in all regards.

That is even considered if it acts as a deterrent at all. As you can see my from my graph in R1, states without the death penalty have a lower homicide rates than states who have it. My adversary may say you can not compare states, but that is inaccurate. You can easily compare states with similar populations and location, and see that states without the death penalty in fact have a lower homicide rate. That is why a majority of the analyst and criminologist say that it is not a deterrent at all. Again see R1 for this as far as sources. 88 percent of the nations leading criminologist say that it does not deter crime.

Contention 2

Violates the Right to Life

I have already shown in R1 how it violates the constitution and deceleration of independence and only in circumstances that warrant the death of someone, such as acts of self defense can permit ending someones life legally. These are situations in which you have to act to live. After someone who has committed a crime, we are trading a life for a life and it does not live up to the standards of the constitution. That is going back to the code of Hammurabi. An eye or an eye and a tooth for a tooth kind of method[5]. I have also shown that multiple countries have abolished the death penalty for just that reason.

Con may say it prevents other murders from occurring, so taking their life is justified. This is if they are released. People whom are sentenced to life in prison are never released, and almost never escape. That is the point of max penitentiary prisons. Life in prison is still allowing them to live with the promise of no bail or release, and still abiding by the constitution. There are also other viable options that we could consider such as exile. Make a data base with the criminals name and crime and see if another country would take them. Pass the information of what the criminal has done to the next country and if they are willing to take him/her, exile him/her from the states all together. If no one wants to take a criminal, confine him/her to life in prison. Him/Her spending life in prison, is not risking the life of any innocent people outside of the prison and has the same results.

Since my adversary has chosen to offer no case, I could only assume what he would say in response to this or in a case if he had presented it. Any issues regarding the government spending money to keep them are alive are a non factor as well. Again this is just a strict violation of human rights, and with only 70 people being sentenced yearly and around 3,000[6] on death row all together it will and could not permit the right to end a life in the name of saving money. The amount of money that would be saved is so miniscule in itself that it is a non factor. Killing someone because of that reason leads to the justification of killing anyone for any reason. Even people who could be released and are in prison. If someone is viewed as a detriment to society end their life, this is the same line of thought that Hitler possessed and a road we can not go down.

Contention 3

Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

I won't spend much time on this because I built a case for this in R1 and it speaks for itself. Lethal injection, a gas chamber, even the electric chair are cruel ways to die. While the criminal may have committed a cruel act, we can not tread on the Constitution to get back at them. Ending someones life in a horrid manor, is not justifiable because they may have chose to do the same to someone else. We would be no better than they are, and resorting to their level. Life in prison or possibly if they consider exile as a option, offers the same results while maintaining the integrity of the constitution.

In Closing

My adversary has chosen not to even build a case as to why he supports the death penalty, therefore we have no reasons to believe that it is ethical, viable, or even morally acceptable within the context of the society in which we live. He can not build a case because he dropped his round to build a case, and can only offer rebuttals to the reasons I have presented.

He can not show why he believes it is permissible and acceptable but only hope to contest the reasons I have presented. Sadly due to him dropping his round and not abiding by the context of R1 I could only offer my reasons as to why I believe it should be banned, and can not respond to any reasons as to why he believes it should remain effective.

This can possibly weaken my case, because I was not able to respond to his contentions but overall weakens his severely more. He has violated the regulations for rounds that I presented in R1, and lost his ability to provide any contentions in the process.

The most logical thing we can conclude is that the death penalty has ran its course and should be abolished. We should follow states like Maryland who have just abolished it, and then maybe we can see the lower homicide rates those states are experiencing while persevering the Constitution and upholding someones right to life. Also in the process we are getting rid of a ineffective deterrent.



I regret to inform my opponent and those spectating that I simply won't have time, due to numerous reasons, to be able to post in the next two hours. I was excited to see that an opponent I wanted to face was debating a topic a felt strongly about. I assure him that, were he to give me another chance, and possibly more time ofr rounds to fit my busy schedule, that I would've given him a fun match.

But ironically, I have to leave for an actual debate meeting with my club, which will prevent me from posting my argument.

Congrats to my opponent, and I hope that he considers offering up this challenge again, with more time allowed, and possibly an extra round (or no limits on when someone can rebut contentions).

Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by thett3 4 years ago
I'd like a crack at this too. It's been too long since I debated the death penalty!
Posted by Shadowguynick 4 years ago
The guy below be is definitely not a bot.
Posted by Mikal 4 years ago
I kind of feel obligated to let justin have this. He wanted to debate me before and I had to decline. He also was the first to respond. I am going to offer this to him and if I repost this in the future, I will keep raisor in mind.
Posted by Mikal 4 years ago
I kind of feel obligated to let justin have this. He wanted to debate me before and I had to decline. He also was the first to respond. I am going to offer this to him and if I repost this in the future, I will keep raisor in mind.
Posted by Raisor 4 years ago
Yo let me at this.
Posted by JustinAMoffatt 4 years ago
I would love to debate you on this. :)
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by MysticEgg 4 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
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Total points awarded:51 
Reasons for voting decision: My opinion on the matter was not swayed; so there's that! I gave conduct to Con due to a most gracious concession. Spelling and grammar were fine; excellent in fact. Since Con didn't present a case, arguments default go to Pro. Sources to Pro, too; Pro's sources were reliable and he gave more than Con. I hope these two esteemed debaters will do this again sometime!