The death penalty should exist
I would like to challenge Lannan to this debate.
Resolved: The death penalty should exist in the United States.
The onus is shared between the two of us, I must prove that we should not have the death penalty whereas my opponent must prove that we should have it. My reasoning for the sharing of the onus is because both sides call for a change in the status quo in the US.
1. No forfeiting
2. No semantics/trolling/kritiks/etc
3. My opponent must start their constructive case this round and waive the final round saying "Round waived in accordance to rule 3" or something similar
4. Keep appropriate conduct, people!
5. Do not reject definitions/structure or anything otherwise laid out in this debate. If you reject please do so in comments so I can change it.
Round X: What pro does | what con does
R1: Create debate | Provide constructive case
R2: Provide constructive case | Rebuttals
R3: Rebuttals | Defense to rebuttals
R4: Defense to rebuttals | Waive
Voter ELO is set to 2500. If needed I can change this.
Votes are on a pick winner basis so we can get more in depth RFD's as opposed to just explaining specific points.
Death penalty: the act of legally executing a prisoner because of a breaking in law by the US government
should: ought to; must
exist: be in practice/be made into practice
Thanks to Lannan if he accepts this debate, good luck!
PS you get bonus points if you use puns.
Contention 1: Detterance
If we observe the above graph we can see that since the first studies done in the mid to late 1970's we can see that states where there is a Death Penalty we can see that the Murder rates have fallen drastically and there is a signifcant difference in the two.  We can also extend across my argument on economists being better at these graphs and studies then those who study crime, because their graphs don't include the lag that is included in the Death Penalty studies.
Now, we can all agree that Criminals are rational actors as we can see that they the plan and preform their crimes by weighing the costs and benefits. Economist do similiar type of cost-benefit analysist, so I would concider them to be a great expert on thie topic of studying such thing. They have found that there is a direct corrilation between the increasing penalties to that of decreasing crime. Teenagers, who we can all agree are less rational than adults, have been found to have their crime rates decrease when the penalty is stricter than not. 
This consensis has grown over time as economist Issac Ehrlich did research on this theory and was the first to do so and has found emperical evidense that the Death Penalty is a Detterance and found that the Death Penalty saves three lives on average.  My opponent might just say, well that was from 1975, this is 2014, 2015 tomorrow making that piece of evidence 40 years old. It's invalid right? Wrong, newer evidence still confirms this theory as the Heritage Foundation found the following conclusion when researching this topic, "the recent studies using panel data techniques have confirmed what we learned decades ago: Capital punishment does, in fact, save lives. Each additional execution appears to deter between three and 18 murders. While opponents of capital punishment allege that it is unfairly used against African-Americans, each additional execution deters the murder of 1.5 African-Americans. Further moratoria, commuted sentences, and death row removals appear to increase the incidence of murder." 
Death Penalty cases are done before and after the exicution, and it has been found that deterance is strong to begin with then slowly decreases. Meaning that a decreased time on death row would skyrocket the deterance rates. It used to be if you were on Death Row you would be exicuted within hours, now it's much, much longer than that. 
Congressional Testimony from Paul Rubin has shown evidence against the Death Penalty, "has yet to be scientifically evaluated." and has argued that modern evidence “have exploited better data and more sophisticated statistical techniques”, the modern evidence has “consistently shown that capital punishment has a strong deterrent effect.”  In another Congressional testimony Joann Shepard has found that per 1 exicuted criminal via the Death Penalty prevents 3-18 murders.  [use way back machine for it]
Contention 2: Innocents
Most people who are exicuted that are "innocent" aren't really innocent, but rather there is just some doubt to weather or not it's truely 100% their fault. Via today's DNA rate and technology they have found a 0.28% error rate in killing innocent people. Out of the 260,000 people convicted for murder in the US, they have found that 34 were wrongly convicted, of those 34 18 were exicuted. My friend mistakes will happen, but when we say the costs and benefits here we can see that saving more lives is more important and with our technology growing more and more advanced the error rate is decreasing.  and 
I do acknowledge that there has been some botched death penalties, but there will always be a slim margin for error reguardless how much we are technologically advanced, because due to the Theory of Infinate Probability there will always be a margin for everything no matter what it is or how small it is. The rate for shark attacks are incredably small and they are smaller then the chance of someone being struck by lightning twice, but it still happens.
I again thank Lannan for his acceptance, I am looking forward to this debate. He forgot to put his sources at the end of his argument, so they are all compiled here: http://pastebin.com....
Before I start my arguments, I would like to remind the reader, as well as Lannan, that we should care more for a governmental impact than a personal impact, e.g. the government falls apart v. one man is mad. This is because we are advocating for a change in governmental policy, and we are more concerned for society in general than a few people. This isn't to say, however, that we should throw morality out of the window - the government is made to uphold the morals of the people and to protect the rights of the people.
C1. Non-efficient cost.
A. General burden.
According to a study done by Loyola Law School , the state of California has spent over $4 billion on the death penalty since it was resumed in 1978, which equates to over $300 million for each of the 13 executions that were carried out in the last 37 years. While this may not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but in 2010 the state of California had a debt that rang to the tune of nearly $800 billion . This is money that is uselessly spent on state executions that could be spent on relieving the debt crisis that the state is currently in, and allow for a higher quality of life for the people of California.
And this is not only specific to the state of California, either.
Since 1997, the state of Washington spent $120 million on 5 prisoners, equating to a $24 million court system cost per person, while the state currently has a debt of just under $80 billion .
The state of Maryland spent $186 million over five executions, meaning that each execution cost taxpayers $37.2 million each . The state of Maryland also has a state debt of over $94 billion .
I could go on and on, but I decide to stop here. What I am trying to get at is that all of these funds that are going towards the death penalty are not necessary; instead they could go to improving the financial crisis that each of these states have. They could go to improving the quality of life of all of their residents instead of killing people without a just cause. The job of the government is to protect people and to ensure the maximum amount of rights that are necessary, not to decrease the quality or quantity of life of its inhabitants, and the amount of money that a state has a huge impact on this.
B. Less efficient than life in prison.
I could not find any statistics about a nation-wide average for the cost of life in prison without parole, so I will be using California as my basis. If my opponent asks I can delve deeper into the web to find nation-wide averages, but I believe that California is a fine example place to base this argument on.
According to statistics that have been offered by the Office of California's Nonpartisan Legislative Analyst, the average annual price for housing an inmate in a jail is over $47,000, while the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation finds that the average cost is just over $44,500 . Whatever the actual number may be, which should logically be thought to be roughly $45,000, is lower than a death penalty process.
If we assume that the average life-in-prison prisoner gets placed in there around age 20 and live to be around age 70, we see a time gap of 50 years. Using basic arithmetic (45,000 x 50), we get a grand total of around $2 million. When we compare this to the average cost of an execution in the state of California, which was stated earlier at a whopping $300 million, the disparity of these two numbers is absurd. The amount for a life-in-prison prisoner is less than 1% the cost of a death row inmate, which as a government cannot be condoned.
A. Innocent death.
Innocence is not committing a crime that you are accused of, and in a society that holds onto justice such as the USA, if you have not committed a crime you are not expected to pay the dues of this crime.
However, as the Guardian explains in an article released on 28 April, 2014, the amount of innocent people that have been posthumously declared as innocent is at 4% . "At least 4.1% of all defendants sentenced to death in the US in the modern era are innocent", they explain.
In a just society, we should not be putting the innocent to death. Having any innocent deaths is atrocious and undermines the values of justice -- which according to Kant is a respect for the right (or innocent, in this case) . Posthumously announcing that one is innocent does not give them the respect that they deserve, instead it declares that the system was wrong and that the system is not based upon justice, instead retribution.
C3. Personal harms.
A. Families touched by murder denounce the death penalty.
It has been shown time and time again that families that have been touched by a person that may receive the death penalty do not actively or usually seek it when seeking justice for their loved ones.
If we look back to the Boston Marathon Bombing that occurred two years ago (April 15, 2013), then we can remember that this was a day that was filled with both terror and death. However, the parents of the youngest victim taken by the bombing do not want the death penalty to even be considered when Tsarnaev is convicted. They say in a letter to the Boston Globe, "[w]e are in favor of and would support the Department of Justice in taking the death penalty off the table in exchange for the defendant spending the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of release and waiving all of his rights to appeal." What this means is that the family of someone who was taken by an act of terror do not want to see the killer die for his actions, just rot in prison .
Another good example of a personal harm created by the death penalty would be the case of Julie Welch, who was taken in an Oklahoma bombing. The family of Julie didn't seek the death penalty at all, and they said that executing people for crimes "is simply vengeance; and it was vengeance that killed Julie.... Vengeance is a strong and natural emotion. But it has no place in our justice system." This means that another bombing victim's family doesn't want vengeance to be part of the justice system, but instead for justice to actually be sought .
If the family of a victim does not want to suffer more pain due to the death of a criminal, then why are we allowing them to? We are not truly honoring the victim's family or the victim themselves when we do these actions, and this is not morally permissible by the government.
C4. Bipartisan Approval
A. Example from Nebraska
Nebraska was the last state to ban the death penalty outright, and they did so just a few days ago . While the senate is officially and legally nonpartisan (no parties allowed, per state law), the majority of the senate leans to more conservative values. The lawmakers two weeks ago agreed that the death penalty is ineffective, costly, immoral and harms everyone involved. This was the first republican-leaning state in over 40 years to outlaw the death penalty .
When the bill passed into law, Ernie Chambers, a representative in the Nebraska Unicameral who has been fighting against the death penalty since he came into office in 1971 said, "[t]oday we are doing something that transcends me, that transcends this Legislature, that transcends this state. We are talking [and acting upon] human dignity." This is the ultimate weapon against the death penalty because instead of talking about something that has been on the democratic ticket for years, as was previously shrugged off as just being something that leans democrat, we are talking about something that even the most conservative people can agree on. That human dignity outweighs retribution.
B. Rising support.
I concede that the death penalty is still accepted by the majority of Americans as something that we should keep. However, there has been a rising trend of support of abolishing it. Right now, the support for the death penalty is the lowest it has ever been in 40 years , at what is considered a mediocre 60% of people polled.
I do concede that support means justification for a process, however, the support has been declining since the mid-90's, where support staggered at a huge 80%. The declination of support suggests that the public is demanding change to what is currently happening in the country, and that they do not approve of the death penalty. This suggests that we should change the policy now before the legitimacy of the government becomes even more questioned than it currently is.
I don't have a lot of time for this debate. So I guess that I will provide some quick rebuttals for the debate before I have to go for the weekend. My sources were also in the comments section since I would end up not having enough characters for it, but that's besides the point.
I will be refuting my opponent's case in a different order than how she presented her case as there is a large portion of her case that is ironically covered by my own case.
Contention 1: Bipartisan Approval and role of the government.
P1.The Government should only act to enforce the imperatives of Perfect Duties.
P2.Universal health care does not meet the standard of a Perfect Duty.
C1: Thus, the Government should not act to enforce universal health care.
""Kant's first formulation of the CI states that you are to “act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law... Perfect duties come in the form ‘One mustnever (or always) φ to the fullest extent possible in C’, while imperfect duties, since they enjoin the pursuit of an end, come in the form ‘One must sometimes and to some extent φ in C’" 
According to the above we see that Kant establishes two duties of that of the government; Perfect Duties and Imperfect Duties. Perfect Duties are those things of which the government must provide to ensure that the government and that society is fully functional. What are these things you may ask? These things are the simple things ensured under that of the Social Contract that you give up for a Civilized Society (not to kill, rape, steal, etc...). These things are indeed key as we can see that this ensures that of a Minarchy at the minimum. What that means is that the Government is to ensure that the people are safe. Everything else falls into that of the Imperfect Duties. Now note that these things may protect and benefit the public, we can see that if they're not of the Social Contract like ideals that they automatically fall into this category and SHOULD NOT be carried out by the government, but by Private entities.
“Any action is right if it can coexist with everyone's freedom in accordance with a universal law, or if on its maxim the freedom of choice of each can coexist with everyone's freedom in accordance with a universal law” 
We can see that if the government intervenes on the behalf on the people to infringe on that of an Imperfect duty that they would undermining humanity to achieve their due ends. We can see and must ensure that the Imperfect Duties are carried out by the Private Entites as things like people's health and Private debt is something that is to be delt with by the individual NOT the government.  Many usually confuse Kant’s principles for that of John Locke’s Social Contract theory. This theory is escentially a mutual agreement between individuals to give up the “right to be violent” and there is thus a civilized society. The main reason that Kant’s argument falls under the statehood status is that under an individual premise it would be impossible to have certain actions carried out by the government or privately as this would invalidate the entirety of having a government. We can see that the role of government is that of a Minarchy where the government provides basic protection of the citizens and ensure’s their rights and protects the public for killing each other. If we look to Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan we can see that the role of the government mirrors that of Kant's and Locke's by showing that the government must protect the people and if they didn't then people would be in, "continued fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man [was] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”  This is done by getting those who endanger society away and in some cases, the death penalty.
Now yes I do concede that the death penalty is declining in popularity we have no choice but to see that the majority of Americans still support the death penalty. Not to mention our currently over crowding jails that this is nessisary for us to keep room avaible in jails and we can still see taht since the majority of Americans still want the death penalty then we must see that the Death Penalty must still be allowed since the majority still wants it.
Contention 2: Costs.
My opponent here hasn't shown you the entire picture we can see, as in the case and arguments that I provided last round, that the average prisoner lives about 50 years so when we do the math that's about $5 million while it costs $3 million at most for a death penalty meaning that it's chearper to do the death penalty. If my math skills are right we save more money doing to the death penalty. While my opponent is only providing the immidiate comparisions by comparing cost of the death penalty to the cost of a year or so of putting a criminal in jail. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure that criminals stay in prison longer than just that one year.
Contention 3: Morality
My opponent provides an article from April 28th to show that there is a 4% mistake rate, HOWEVER, an article I cited a month later from May 8th 2014, states that the margin for errors is that of under 1%, 0.28% to be exact. So we can actually see and do the math by seeing that of the 260,000 people convicted for murder in the US, they have found that 34 were wrongly convicted, of those 34 18 were exicuted. Which I do agree we should do more to help the innocent, but mistakes happen and according to the Theory of Infinate Probability we can see that no matter what, something ALWAYS has a probability for occuring no matter how crazy it might seem. We can see that such minescual percentages shouldn't prevent us from exicuting cold blooded killers like Ed Gein, John Gracey, Osama Bin Ladin, the list goes on and on.
Due to personal time restraints I will get to the last one in my next round as I unfortuantely cannot get to that argument and I must ask for my opponent to wait for a day or so until she responds.
2. (Lectures and Drafts on Political Philosophy, translated Frederick Rauscher and Kenneth Westphal (in preparation). Relevant contents: "Naturrecht Feyerabend" course lecture, fragments on political philosophy, and drafts of works in political philosophy.)
3. (Johnson, Robert. "Kant's Moral Philosophy." The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2012.)
4. (Hobbes, Thomas, and J. C. A. Gaskin. Leviathan. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998. Print.)
Thank you for a great debate, Lannan. In this round, all I will be doing is refuting your round one case.
Contention I. Deterrence
Lannan starts off his argument with a graph that has shown that was compiled from data from the mid-1970's to the end of the 90's. I honestly am not sure what this graph is meant to be saying when it says "adjusted murder rates". Is this supposed to mean the absolute murder rate (which shows that non-capital punishment states have lower murder rates) or some unnecessary convoluted formula that is never actually shown to the viewer?
What this graph above shows is that there is actually a lower murder rate (from 1990-2010) in non-death penalty states than in death penalty states . From this data, we can actually see that the average murder rate is 4 per 100,000 in non-death penalty states and about 5 per 100,000 in death penalty states. This means that, according to my opponent's logic, the death penalty is actually a causal link for more murder, and this completely voids his argument.
His source that displays his graph is also voided due to it not being recent; a more recent study has found something contradictory to old studies and thus we should side with new evidence. Rejecting the new evidence is akin to using studies from the year 1776 saying that England might beat the USA over 2015 evidence that says otherwise.
My opponent goes on to say "we can all agree that Criminals are rational actors as we can see that they the plan and preform their crimes by weighing the costs and benefits", however I ask him this: does a person who goes into a drunken rage weigh the costs and benefits of murdering their cheating ex? Do those that are panicking while committing a capital crime think rationally while committing the crime? Of course not, they are not in the best state of mind. It is not logical to say that murderers think best while committing their crimes, because they are in a state of adrenaline and trying to get the job done quickly (not necessarily correctly).
My opponent claims that because teenagers, who are less rational than adults, have been found to have crime rates that are lower than adults. While this may be true, it is a grand claim to think that this is readily comparable to a killer that acted on spontaneity. I would assume that they have lower crimes rates due to not readily having access to things that can impair their judgment severely, either legally or illegally - things such as alcohol or illegal drugs. This, as well as they are less able to manage their time easily enough to commit such crimes - it is a well-known fact that teenagers do not have the best time management, and this means they cannot commit crimes.
My opponent still claims that there is evidence that claims that the death penalty saves lives later in his argument, citing the Heritage Foundation. Let us look at their claim of "death row removals appear to increase the incidence of murder". This is a really grand claim to make in this kind of context, where it is literally saying that removing someone that was wrongfully accused of murder will increase murder. This source is saying that we shouldn't remove anyone from the death penalty if they did not deserve it (for not committing a crime) because there would be more murders. As a society that is based around justice, this is an absurd claim. Everyone should have equal protections of the law, and when the law fails us we should be allowed to use it to our advantage (getting out of the death penalty when it is not deserved).
Contention II. Innocents.
My opponent is correct in saying that there is a 0.28% error in killing innocent people, however he doesn't understand that there is still a large amount of people that are sentenced to the death penalty that do not receive it. There is a 4.1% error rate while convicting people to death, later to exonerate them . This would mean that if we did not catch our mistakes, that there would be a 4.1% error rate in executions, and we are really lucky that we are able to catch the mistakes that we have made, and it usually takes many many appeals, such as in the case of Ray Krone , the 100th person to be exonerated of the death penalty when he did not deserve it.
What we are effectively doing is sentencing people to die without knowing if they are actually guilty (innocent until proven guilty, as the saying goes) and hoping that later we fix our mistakes. This is absurd, we should not be sentencing people to die and wasting parts of their lives just because we feel like giving them retribution.
Contention III. Crowded prisons
My opponent is making a HUGE slippery slope fallacy in this argument. He is saying that because overcrowding is bad, we should execute prisoners (even if we don't know if they are guilty). The actual amount of prisoners on death row in 2015 is around 3019 , and the total prisoner population is around 2,266,800 . If we executed every single prisoner on death row right now, the entire prisoner population would decrease by just 0.1%. This would mean that there is actually a negligible amount of prisoners that would be leaving the prison system to actually make a significant impact, and a large enough impact to warrant a change.
What my opponent is advocating for is for more prisoners to be wrongly executed just so that prisons can be less filled, instead of doing the easier approach of perhaps decriminalizing drug offenses, which would decrease the load on the penal system by a staggering 20% .
Contention IV. Cost
My opponent claims that the average cost for a prisoner is $160,000 annually for the entire US penal system, yet the source that backs up this claim only says that this is the cost for New York City, not the US. According to the Federal Register, a government website, the annual federal cost for an inmate was a low $26,163 , and the annual cost for California was around $45,000 .
If we use the cost of California, which as I stated earlier is a whopping $300 million per prisoner, and their own annual cost of just $45,000, we can find the disparity of these numbers to be huge. If we assume that a prisoner will live for 50 years in a prison (45,000 x 50), we get the total cost to be around $2.25 million, which is lower than 1% of the cost for the death penalty.
This entire contention of my opponent is voided due to using the cost of a single city where it is an outlier, and that it is just untrue when you apply it to the entire US, and when we look at the facts this contention actually builds onto my case.
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P1.The pravitel'stvo dolzhno deystvovat' tol'ko dlya obespecheniya soblyudeniya imperativov sovershennykh sboram.
P2.Universal zdravookhraneniya ne sootvetstvuyut standartu sovershennogo Duty.
S1: Takim obrazom, pravitel'stvo ne dolzhno deystvovat' dlya obespecheniya vseobshchego zdravookhraneniya.
"" Pervaya formulirovka Kanta KI utverzhdayet, chto vy dolzhny "deystvovat' tol'ko v sootvetstvii s etoy maksimoy, cherez kotoryy vy mozhete v to zhe vremya, chto on budet stat' vseobshchim zakonom ... Sovershennyye obyazannosti prikhodyat v vide 'One mustnever (ili vsegda) ph v maksimal'no vozmozhnoy stepeni v C ', v to vremya kak nesovershennyye obyazannosti, poskol'ku oni predpisyvayut presledovaniye kontsu, prikhodyat v vide' Chelovek dolzhen inogda i v kakoy-to stepeni ph v S '"
Po vyshe, my vidim, chto Kant ustanavlivayet dva obyazannosti, chto pravitel'stva; Sovershennyye Obyazannosti i Nesovershennyye obyazannosti. Sovershennyye Obyazannosti te veshchi, kotoryye pravitel'stvo dolzhno obespechit', chtoby ubedit'sya, chto pravitel'stvo i obshchestvo yavlyayetsya polnost'yu funktsional'noy. Kakovy eti veshchi, kotoryye vy mozhete sprosit'? Eti veshchi yavlyayutsya prostyye veshchi, obespechivayetsya v sootvetstvii s etim v obshchestvennom dogovore, chto vy dayete na tsivilizovannoye obshchestvo (ne ubivat', nasilovat', vorovat', i t.d ...). Eti veshchi deystvitel'no klyuchevym, poskol'ku my vidim, chto eto garantiruyet, chto iz Minarchy minimum. To, chto eto oznachayet, chto pravitel'stvo dolzhno garantirovat', chto lyudi nakhodyatsya v bezopasnosti. Vse ostal'noye, chto popadayet v nesovershennoy sboram. Teper' obratite vnimaniye, chto eti veshchi mogut zashchitit' i izvlech' vygodu obshchestvennosti, my vidim, chto, yesli oni ne sotsial'nogo kontrakta, kak idealy, chto oni avtomaticheski popadayut v etu kategoriyu, i NE SLEDUYET osushchestvlyayetsya pravitel'stvom, a chastnykh lits.
"Lyuboye deystviye yavlyayetsya pravil'nym, yesli on mozhet sosushchestvovat' so svobodoy kazhdogo v sootvetstvii s universal'nym zakonom, ili yesli na yego maksimy svoboda vybora kazhdogo mozhet sosushchestvovat' so svobodoy kazhdogo v sootvetstvii s universal'nym zakonom" 
Due to some unexpected errors, we will not be having a defense round. To my rebuttals in R3 are where all of the voting should occur, nothing past there (because Lannan's argument did... something) should be voted on.
Thanks for reading, folks.