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The Contender
Pro (for)
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The death penalty.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/16/2012 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,226 times Debate No: 24735
Debate Rounds (3)
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Should the United States of America go ahead and legalize the death penalty in all 50 states?


I will accept the debate. As Con instigated, I will await her to make her case.
Debate Round No. 1


The state of Wisconsin has been without the death penalty since 1851, and with good reason, here is the case of the last man who was put to death under Wisconsin law. "John McCaffary's execution on August 21, 1851 was the last execution to be carried out under Wisconsin law. McCaffary's trial and execution played a key role in the campaign that ultimately succeeded in completely abolishing the death penalty in Wisconsin." (A Brief History of Wisconsin's Death Penalty Alexander T. Pendleton & Blaine R. Renfert)
"The facts of McCaffary's crime are as follows: Around midnight on Tuesday, July 23, 1850, the neighbors of John and Bridget McCaffary were awakened by Bridget McCaffary's screams. The neighbors heard Bridget yell "John, spare me," and "John, save me," and rushed to the McCaffarys' backyard. In the corner of the yard a very large barrel, which served as a shallow well, was sunk in the ground? John McCaffary was seen climbing out of the barrel, wet and covered with mud."
"As he headed toward his house, a neighbor stopped him and asked if he had put his wife in the well; McCaffary replied that someone was in the well. McCaffary returned to the barrel with another neighbor and told him there was nothing in the well but a shirt. The neighbor reached into the barrel and found the body of Bridget McCaffary. The body was pulled from the well and a physician pronounced her dead by drowning. McCaffary was arrested and placed in the Racine County Jail." (A Brief History of Wisconsin's Death Penalty Alexander T. Pendleton & Blaine R. Renfert)
Now McCaffary was ultimately guilty of killing this wife, as he said something was in the well, and her body was found in the well. Does this mean that he should have been put to death? Well at the time the law would have justified it, but does not make it right.
"Despite the failure of reformers to include a ban on the death penalty in Wisconsin's first constitution, the lack of such a ban did not lead to a wave of executions. The McCaffary execution was the first execution under Wisconsin law after statehood.11 His death revived the abolition campaign and led to a significant number of editorials in Wisconsin newspapers against the death penalty. Perhaps the most eloquent was by the editor, inventor, legislator and eyewitness to McCaffary's execution, C. Latham Sholes:" (A Brief History of Wisconsin's Death Penalty Alexander T. Pendleton & Blaine R. Renfert)
The law legally committed murder against a man that killed his wife willingly. How can we justify the wrong doing of a person by legally committing the same crime? I do not believe that it is justifiable really, it makes no sense. In turn I believe that giving someone the death penalty to prove that killing is wrong is not sending the right message.
There are many arguments for and against the death penalty. "The United States remains in the minority of nations in the world that still uses death as penalty for certain crimes. Many see the penalty as barbaric and against American values. Others see it as a very important tool in fighting violent pre-meditated murder. Two things have once again brought this issue to national debate. One is the release of some highly publicized studies that show a number of innocents had been put to death. The second is the issue of terrorism and the need to punish its perpetrators." (Joe Messerli Page Last Updated :)
The death penalty is supposed to be a very important tool in fighting violent pre meditated murder which seems to be working. "The rate has steadily decreased since the early 1990s to 6.8 per 100,000 in 1997 and to 5.6 in 2002. In actual numbers of murders, there were 18,210 in 1997 compared to 16,204 in 2002."
The murder rate has gone drastically down from 1933 to 2002, going from 18,210 murders in 1997 to 16,204 murders in 2002. That is a drastic change in the murder rate in 6 years. Who is to say that the death penalty has a play in the drastic change in murder rates though? A good portion of these probably resulted in execution due the violent nature of the crime.
Here is a table of the good and bad things about the death penalty.
1. Financial costs to taxpayers of capital punishment are several times that of keeping someone in prison for life.
2. It is barbaric and violates the "cruel and unusual" clause in the Bill of Rights.
3. The endless appeals and required additional procedures clog our court system.
4. We as a society have to move away from the "eye for an eye" revenge mentality if civilization is to advance.
5. It sends the wrong message: why kill people who kill people to show killing is wrong.
6. Life in prison is a worse punishment and a more effective deterrent.
7. Other countries (especially in Europe) would have a more favorable image of America.
8. Some jury members are reluctant to convict if it means putting someone to death.
9. The prisoner's family must suffer from seeing their loved one put to death by the state, as well as going through the emotionally-draining appeals process.
10. The possibility exist that innocent men and women may be put to death.
11. Mentally ill patients may be put to death.
12. It creates sympathy for the monstrous perpetrators of the crimes.
13. It is useless in that it doesn't bring the victim back to life.
1. The death penalty gives closure to the victim's families who have suffered so much.
2. It creates another form of crime deterrent.
3. Justice is better served.
4. Our justice system shows more sympathy for criminals than it does victims.
5. It provides a deterrent for prisoners already serving a life sentence.
6. DNA testing and other methods of modern crime scene science can now effectively eliminate almost all uncertainty as to a person's guilt or innocence.
7. Prisoner parole or escapes can give criminals another chance to kill.
8. It contributes to the problem of overpopulation in the prison system.
9. It gives prosecutors another bargaining chip in the plea bargain process, which is essential in cutting costs in an overcrowded court system. (Joe Messerli Page Last Updated :)
Well according to this chart there are more devastating effects due to the death penalty than there are good. Number 5 of the chart is what I really agree with. There is never any reason to kill to show killing is bad. It is like telling a kid that it is wrong to steal and then their parents do the same thing. It shows that we can pick and chose who can commit a crime and who can't. In conclusion there is no right or wrong when it comes down to the death penalty, it is the choice of each state and country to determine. There is good and bad things about it, and if it is helping lower the crime rate than the government is going to allow it. It is up to us as a country to keep fighting for what we believe in, regardless of our position on the death penalty.

Violent Crime: Crime Against a Person - Crimes Against Individuals, Hate Crime, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Forcible Rape, Stalking, "three Strikes" Laws Written by: Joe Messerli
Page Last Updated:
A Brief History of Wisconsin's Death Penalty by Alexander T. Pendleton & Blaine R. Renfert


I would like to thank UrbanThuggirl for her opening argument. I will first make my case, then I will respond to her argument.

-Opening Argument-

My support for the death penalty rests on three key points.

Contention One: By murdering someone in cold blood you forfeit your own right to live.

The law is established to protect its citizens. If you murder someone in cold blood, how can you expect the law to protect you? Is it really fair, or right, to murder someone then turn around and claim that you shouldn't be killed? If the punishment is supposed to fit the crime, is it really fitting that a murderer should be allowed to live out the rest of his life in a jail cell rather than be deprived of the fundamental right to life that he has taken from someone else?

Contention Two: Justice must be done.

The death of a family member or friend is always hard to deal with. Capital punishment is not about revenge, it is about justice. Should we expect a wife to be happy that her husband's murderer is rotting away in a jail cell because he ruthlessly took her husband from her? Is it really fitting to tell someone that even though their loved one was murdered, we're just going to lock the murderer away for a long time as punishment? This is not a fitting punishment for a murderer. The crime of murder is irreversible, so the punishment for murder should also be irreversible.

Contention Three: A dead murderer can't repeat their offense.

Even though escape from a maximum security prison is rare, it does happen. If a murderer hasn't been put to death, they run the risk of escape and repeating their offense. Even if they don't escape, they can still murder other inmates.

Even though I do support the death penalty, I think it should be greatly restricted. There should be absolutely no doubt that the person is guilty, so that we can minimize the chance of an innocent person being killed through capital punishment.

UrbanThuggirl’s argument

The story of McCaffary does nothing to make her case. This man was guilty of murder and was justly executed for his crime. There is no crime more heinous against a fellow human than the crime of taking his own life from him. Capital punishment is about justice, not about revenge.

I’m not sure what Urban’s case actually is. She seems to be helping make my case for me. She indicates that the murder rate has gone down from 1933 to 2002, and that capital punishment seems to be working as a deterrent to these murders. That’s good enough reason to keep it around.

Now I’ll look at the pro’s and con’s she uses. It should also be noted that the chart does not indicate that there are more devastating effects due to the death penalty than there are good. It just indicates that she was able to think of more Con’s (13) than Pro’s (9). However, it seems clear that her Pro’s actually outweigh the Con’s.


1. I’d like to see some sources for this point, as it seems counterintuitive. It seems like putting someone to death would be more cost efficient than keeping them locked up for the rest of their life, having to provide food, water, board, doctor visits, etc.

2. Capital punishment does not violate the “cruel
and unusual punishment” clause. First, it is not unusual as since 1976, 1,264 people have been executed in the United States (and thousands of people have been put to death in China). [1] Second, it’s not cruel. In all states where capital punishment is used, lethal injection is the primary method of capital punishment (though in some states, inmates may choose another method). [2] Lethal injection is relatively quick and painless. [3] Three separate drugs are injected into the body. Lethal injection basically works by one drug anesthetizing the person and making them lose consciousness, the second drug paralyzing the person, then the third drug inducing cardiac arrest.

3. This has nothing to do with whether capital punishment is moral or immoral.

Again, capital punishment is about justice, not revenge. Murderers are put to death after trials and they are found guilty. No other punishment fits the crime of capital punishment.

5. Capital punishment is not about killing people
to show that killing is wrong. Capital punishment is about punishing a convicted murderer. Our laws are in place because the actions are wrong. The punishments are not there to show that the act is wrong, the punishments are in place so that the criminal can repay their debt to society. In the case of murder, the only fitting punishment is that the criminal pay with his life.

I’m not sure we can show one way or the other whether death is a worse punishment than a life of hard labor in a maximum security prison. Plus, she offers no evidence that it’s a more effective deterrent than capital punishment.

This has nothing to do with the morality of capital punishment. Something is not right or wrong depending on how other countries perceive ours.

This is not an issue with capital punishment, but with the jury selection process. They need to make sure they can select jury members who will be able to convict someone if the punishment is death.

This commits the logical fallacy of an appeal to pity. This does not affect the morality of abortion one way or another. Something is not wrong simply because it makes some people feel bad. Besides, what about the family members who have to deal with the pain of the murderer taking their loved one from them?

This is a powerful objection to the death penalty, but that’s why I believe that more restrictions should be in place to ensure the least possibility of an innocent person being put to death. But innocent people die from falling down stairs or car accidents. Should we also outlaw stairs and cars?

This is not an issue with capital punishment, more of an issue with our legal system. Courts have established that inmates who are insane – so out of touch with reality that they do not know right from wrong and cannot understand their punishment or the purpose of it – cannot be executed. [4] The Supreme Court has also held that a mentally retarded individual cannot be executed. [5] Capital punishment can certainly be abused by putting to death individuals who shouldn’t be, but this does not prove capital punishment immoral, just that judges can abuse the system.

Whether it does or does not create sympathy is irrelevant to the case. It is a fallacious appeal to emotion. Wouldn’t being sentenced to a life of hard labor in prison also create sympathy? Why would one punishment (especially one that Urban, herself, says is much worse) create sympathy but the other would not?

It does not bring the victim back to life, but it does bring closure. There is simply no way to make a murder “right.” The crime is irreversible, so the punishment must also be irreversible. She might as well say we should not lock a murderer away for the rest of his life. It’s useless; putting him in prison does not bring the person back to life.


Little to say here about the pros. I will add that as Urban suggests, advancements in DNA testing and other methods of crime scene science can now effectively eliminate almost all uncertainty as to a person’s guilty or innocence. This point alone negates her earlier objection that innocent people die from capital punishment. That’s becoming less and less likely with advancements in forensic science.

Now, Urban has a wrong idea of what a crime is. A crime is an unlawful act. Capital punishment is lawful, not unlawful. For a judge to sentence a convicted murderer to death is not a crime; it is justice.

[4] Ford v. Wainright.
[5] Atkins v. Virginia.

Debate Round No. 2


UrbanThuggurl forfeited this round.


Well, UrbanThuggirl has forfeited this round. I extend my arguments. Needless to say, a vote for Pro is in order.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro did not forfeit.