The death penalty should exist
Debate Rounds (4)
This is a debate sent to my good friend Kylar, since I saw on his profile that he believes that the death penalty should exist, while I do not.
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
5. Do not reject definitions/structure or anything otherwise laid out in this debate. If you reject please do so in comments or PM so I can address 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 punishment of execution, administered to someone legally convicted of a capital crime.
should: ought to; must
exist: be in practice/be made into practice
The death penalty...this is a good challenge I am happy to debate/discuss.
The death penalty takes a life this is true...and there are some out there who call out the commandment Thou shalt not kill. However, if you look in the Bible later it says stuff like: adulterers should be stoned to death. So the death penalty has existed as a deterrence to crime since the days of Moses at least.
Frank Carrington (1978) states- is there any way one can tell whether the death penalty deters murders from killing? There is no way one can tell whether the death penalty deters murderers from killing. The argument goes on that proponents of capital punishments should not have to bear the burden of proving deterrence by a reasonable doubt. Nor should the abolitionist have to prove deterrence by a reasonable doubt -neither side would be able to anyway.
Frank Carrington (1978) claims common sense supports the inference that if, the threat of the death penalty decreases, the rate of murders increases than it may be true. But if the threat had increased, the homicide rate may decrease.
Justice Stewart held in the Supreme Court in Gregg v. Georgia:
Although some of the studies suggest that the death
penalty may not function as a significantly greater
deterrent than lesser penalties, there is no convincing
empirical evidence supporting or refuting this view.
We may nevertheless assume safely there are murders,
such as those who act in passion, for whom the threat of
death has little or no deterrent effect. But for many others,
the death penalty undoubtedly, is a significant deterrent.
There are carefully contemplated murders, such as murder
for hire, where the possible penalty of death may well enter
the cold calculus that precedes the decision to act
( as cited in Carrington, 1978. p. 87).
J. Edgar Hoover, late director of Federal Bureau of Investigations, asks the
following questions: "Have you ever thought about how many criminals escape
punishment, and yet, the victims never have a chance to do that? Are crime victims in the United States today the forgotten people of our time? Do they receive full measure of justice (as cited in Isenberg, 1977, p. 129)?
A criminal on death row has a chance to prepare his death, make a will, and make his last statements, etc. while some victims can never do it. There are many other crimes where people are injured by stabbing, rape, theft, etc. To some degree at least, the victims right to freedom and pursuit of happiness is violated.
When the assailant is apprehended and charged, he has the power of the judicial process who protects his constitutional rights. What about the victim? The assailant may have compassion from investigating officers, families and friends. Furthermore, the criminal may have organized campaigns of propaganda to build sympathy for him as if he is the one who has been sinned against. These false claims are publicized, for no reason, hence, protecting the criminal (Isenberg, I., 1977).
The former Theodore L. Sendak, Attorney General of Indiana delivered a speech to Law enforcement officials in Northern Indiana on May 12, 1971 (as cited in Isenberg, 1977):
"Our system of criminal law is to minimize human
suffering by works or order primarily to forestall
violence or aggression. In the question of the death
penalty, we must ask ourselves which action will
serve the true humanitarian purpose of criminal law.
We should weigh the death of the convicted murders
against the loss of life of his victims and the possibility
of potential victims to murder (p. 129)
In arguments of the death penalty, there are two lives to think about. Too much emphasis is placed on the convicted murderer, the one being executed, and the victim is all forgotten.
Crime Rate Increases
Millions are being killed and will be killed because our justice system is not working. Millions have already been killed and will be killed every year. According to Time Magazine, there are 2,000,000 people beaten in the United States. Some are knifed, shot, or assaulted (Internet).
Crime growth has been going up in the past because of too much leniency going hand in hand with the increased rate of people being victimized. There are many loop holes devised for offenders, and because of that crime rate has increased drastically. Between l960 to 1968 crime rate increased 11 times. More and more people are being murdered, raped, assaulted, kidnapped, and robbed, etc. (Isenberg, I., 1997).
When you commit a felony, it is a matter of free will. No one is compelled to commit armed robbery, murder, or rape. The average citizen does not have a mind or intentions to become a killer or being falsely accused of murder. What he is worried about is being a victim.
Deterrent in 27 States
Opponents argue that there is no deterrent effect by using the death penalty. According to Baily, who did a study from l967 to l968, the death penalty was a deterrent
in 27 states. When there was a moratorium on Capital Punishment in the United States, the study showed murder rates increased by 100%. The study also reviewed 14 nations who abolished the death penalty. It (the study) claimed murder increased by 7% from five years before the abolition period to the five years after the abolition (Internet).
Studies were made by Professor Isaac Erlich between the period of 1933 and 1969. He concluded "An additional execution per year may have resulted in fewer murders (Bedau, 1982, p. 323)".
The number of years on the average spent in death row is 10 years. It is known, with all the appeals, the death penalty is not swift! In fact, most murderers feel they most likely will never be put to death. If the death penalty was swift and inevitable, there certainly would be a decrease in homicide rates. (Internet).
Most people have a natural fear of death- its a trait man have to think about what will happen before we act. If we don"t think about it consciously, we will think about it unconsciously. Think- if every murderer who killed someone died instantly, the homicide rate would be very low because no one likes to die. We cannot do this, but if the Justice system can make it more swift and severe, we could change the laws to make capital punishment faster and make appeals a shorter process. The death penalty is important because it could save the lives of thousands of potential victims who are at stake (Bedau, H., 1982).
In a foot note Bedau (1982) cites, "Actually being dead is no different from not being born, a (non) experience we all had before being born. But death is not realized. The process of dying which is a different matter is usually confused with it. In turn, dying is feared because death is expected, even though death is feared because it is confused with dying (p. 338)".
Death is an experience that cannot be experienced and ends all experience. Because it is unknown as it is certain, death is universally feared. "The life of a man should be sacred to each other (Bedau, H., 1982, p. 330)".
Innocent Executed - no Proof
Opponents claim lots of innocent man are wrongly executed. There has never been any proof of an innocent man being executed!! A study by Bedau-Radlet claimed there were 22 cases where the defendant have been wrongly executed. However, this study is very controversial. Studies like Markman and Cassell find that the methodology was flawed in l2 cases. There was no substantial evidence of guilt, and no evidence of innocence. Moreover, our judicial system takes extra precautions to be sure the innocent and their rights are protected. Most likely an innocent person would not be executed (Internet).
Death Penalty Saves Lives
The question is whether or not execution of an innocent person is strong enough to abolish the death penalty. Remember, the death penalty saves lives. Repeat murders are eliminated and foreseeable murders are deterred. You must consider the victim as well as the defendant.
Hugo Bedau (1982) claims:
The execution of the innocent believed guilty is a
miscarriage of justice that must be opposed whenever
detected. But such miscarriage of justice do not
warrant abolition at the death penalty. Unless the
moral drawbacks of an activity practice, which include
the possible death of innocent lives that might be saved
by it, the activity is warranted. Most human activities like
medicine, manufacturing, automobile, and air traffic, sports,
not to mention wars and revolutions, cause death of
innocent bystanders. Nevertheless, advantages outweigh
the disadvantages, human activities including the penal
system with all its punishments are morally justified ( p. 323).
Wesley Lowe states, "As for the penal system, accidentally executing an innocent person, I must point out that in this imperfect world, citizens are required to take certain risks in exchange for safety." He says we risk dying in an accident when we drive a car, and it is acceptable. Therefore, risking that someone might be wrongfully executed is worth saving thousand"s of innocent people who may be the next victim of murder (Internet).
I thank my opponent. This round is for constructive arguments only, so let's get into this.
Before I begin my arguments, I want to say to the gentle reader that it is more important to have a governmental or societal impact when you are having a change of policy. If society is impacted negatively as a whole (or the government), this should outweigh any individual harms (one person getting mad over it, for instance). This is not to say, however, that morals are not important in a debate of this type because the job of the government is to uphold morals and to protect 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.
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 11 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 (and is also my profile picture, seen below) 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."
If a republican state can agree that the death penalty is impractical and does not lead to a better society, then I think that we can step across party lines and act on what really matters - banning the death penalty.
With very few characters, I give it back to you, pro.
Refutal I California has spent a ton of money on the death penalty this is true. But that is because of legal issues and such mainly. Too many death row inmates too-just inject them and dismiss the stupid legal challenges on lethal injection drugs and stuff. Who cares where it was from or whatever if it does the job, it doesn't matter!
Refutal II Yes, in California it seems to cost more. But that is only due to an extreme backlog on cases again due to pointless legal challenges.
Refutal III 4% is not an lot of the death row population at all. It is only a small minority. Consider that means 96% could be guilty as charged, and deserve execution.
Refutal IV Some families do not believe in the death penalty-to each their own :).
Refutal V Yes Nebraska has repealed the death penalty. But for how long will that last? There is a push to reinstate it by public referendum, now whether that happens I don't know.
I rest my case so far, thank you Lexus for the debate :)
It appears to me that my opponent has plagiarised literally everything in his case except for his opening two paragraphs. He cites where it all came from, but he made no arguments of his own, and I ask the gentle voter to keep this in mind when voting. To me, it appears as though this breaks rule 4 where it states "keep appropriate conduct", and the general DDO community says that plagiarism is not valid conduct.
An easy way to check if he has plagiarised is to look up the phrase "is there any way one can tell" in his argument, and then on the death penalty source he has, and find that not only this quote, but the entire paragraph is plagiarised. If that is a bit too tedious, you can look for the phrase "L960" (not 1960, the 1 is an L), and you will find this mistake in both arguments. Regardless of this severe breach in conduct, I will begin to rebut points that he has stolen.
What Frank is saying in this quote is that nobody has to prove that deterrence from crime exists or doesn't exist because it is wholly impossible. This is in fact completely untrue, in both that the respect that neither side has the burden and that it is impossible to calculate or infer this kind of deterrence. The burden should be shared and it should exist. Make bare assertions that there is or isn't a deterrence in crime is fallacious at its very core.
H. Lee Sarokin, a former US Court of Appeals Judge as well as a former US District Court Judge, says on this subject, "In my view deterrence plays no part whatsoever. Persons contemplating murder do not sit around the kitchen table and say I won't commit this murder if I face the death penalty, but I will do it if the penalty is life without parole. I do not believe persons contemplating or committing murder plan to get caught or weigh the consequences". Basically what he is saying is that a person will not commit murder if the punishment is more strict or not, because they do not think about the future at all. He is saying that deterrence is not a logical thing that exists if we have the death penalty or not .
There is no logical thinking here. He is saying that if there is a bigger punishment then people will be deterred by crime, yet it is logical to assume that the crime rate will not be impacted at all, as shown by Mr. Sarokin. If there is a bigger punishment, murderers will not care, they will still commit these atrocious crimes.
Justice Stewart is saying in his quote that there is a deterrence in murders from having the death penalty. Not from murderers that act in passion or in the moment, but from cold calculated hitmen. If this is true (which I do not think so, as I will point out soon), then, as The Straight Dope reports, about 3.2% of all murders prosecuted on the federal level are hitmen, which Mr. Stewart is saying will be deterred from murdering if we had the death penalty . However, I ask the gentle voter: does this 3.2% outweigh the lives of the 4.1% that are posthumously declared innocent? If we kill more innocent people than people that would be deterred, we are seriously in a problem, and the death penalty would do just that.
When a hitman is planning a hit, he is not thinking about what will happen if he gets caught. He is not weighing death versus life in prison, because both are pretty bad places. If the chance of death is there, he may charge more for a murder and be even more sneaky about it than if there was not a death penalty. This means that he is able to kill around the same amount of people, yet cover up his tracks even better. This would lead to us not actually catching he man and have even more dead people.
Crime rate increase
I first have to ask: how is "Internet" a source for this information that you got? I cannot verify this content at all because of poor sourcing, so I ask the voter to keep this in mind. It is impossible for me to be able to verify what you are even talking about.
My opponent is employing a logical fallacy - that is, the slippery slope fallacy. If X leads to Y, and Y is bad, X should not exist. If a lack of death penalty leads to more crime (which has been shown to not be true), then we should allow the death penalty, as if this is the only solution to the current crime epidemic in the United States. I propose that we rehabilitate offenders and the problem will be solved better than the death penalty. My opponent's argument about needing the death penalty is not true, thus is effectively rebutted against.
Unrelated contention to this debate, I ask the voter to not consider this at all.
Deterrent in 27 States
My opponent says that because some studies conducted 50-80 years ago say the death penalty deters crime, then we should allow the death penalty. In terms of validity, and I think my opponent would agree, a study conducted more recently would hold much more weight than one done years and years ago.
Michael L. Radelet, PhD, found in 2001 that the vast majority of the world's top criminologists believe that the death penalty is not a deterrent (88.2% total), where only 9.2% answered that it is a significant deterrent. If the experts in this field find it not to be a deterrent, then it most likely is not one, because of their expertise .
When someone commits a murder, they do not expect to be caught because they have covered most of their tracks. They fear death, I admit, but they do not think they will be caught regardless if the death penalty is intact. They do not actively think, as Mr. Sarokin says, that they will only commit this murder if the death penalty does not exist. That is ridiculous to imagine.
Innocent Executed - no Proof
I have linked to proof of this, so this entire contention is void. Besides, this is effectively a rebuttal to my case, not a real point, and this breaks rule 5 which says that one must accept debate structure, and you have broken this. I ask the voter to keep this in mind while voting.
I remind the voter to keep in mind of the plagiarism that my opponent has had for the entirety of his case while voting, as well as the breach in structure. Thank you, back to you, pro.
Alright let us look at this...
I am having a difficult time with this debate but I will try and make the best of it.
The death penalty acts as closure for the victim's family. Think about this, if someone you loved was killed, you would want the murderer to pay the price. The death penalty is that price, they die for their crime, and never haunt you again.
Secondly, we have DNA testing now to help if their is doubt of an inmate's guilt.
I did not attempt to plagiarize, and if I did I am sorry I did not mean too or realize I was.
Thanks for the debate :)
I do not have enough time to make a proper defense at this time, so if this round is shorter it is because I do not have enough time.
I do not feel as though my opponent's rebuttals were adequate; he dropped my argument about high cost and even added to my case by saying that the death penalty is highly inefficient by saying that there is a large amount of legal troubles that people have to go through for an execution.
My opponent says that innocent death is not a bad thing... I ask him what the role of government is if it is not to protect life and to uphold personal dignity. He shrugs it off as a minority but does not actually say why this isn't a bad thing, which I ask the voter to take into account.
He also brushes off the fact that Nebraska has bipartisan support of abolishing the death penalty due to high cost by just saying that there will be a public referendum. This isn't a rebuttal to my impact of bipartisan support, just that it may change due to some people disagreeing.
Thanks Kylar. You have to waive this round.
Kylar forfeited this round.
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