The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
11 Points

Whether the United States should abolish the Death Penalty?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/10/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 680 times Debate No: 89458
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (4)




Before I begin, I would like to thank for hosting this debate, as well as whoever accepts my challenge. This will be tough, and I thank you for providing me with a challenge. I hope that I challenge you, and together we might both become better debaters.

Intro: All my arguments will be presented in round 2.
Rules: No profanity (thanks), no Ad Hominems (personal attacks), no fallacies (they will be pointed out), and have fun.
Please present your arguments in round two, and leave round 1 for acceptance.
Definitions -
Death Penalty: "execution imposed in a court of law as punishment for a crime" - Merriam Webster
Unusual: "not habitually or commonly occurring or done." - Google definitions
United States: "a republic in the N Western Hemisphere comprising 48 conterminous states, the District of Columbia, and Alaska in North America, and Hawaii in the N Pacific." -
abolish: "formally put an end to (a system, practice, or institution)." - google definitions


I accept the debate challenge.

Since this is R1, and there was no rule ever proposed that I cannot set new rules, I would like to set a few rules to make the debate fair.

No arguments in the last round. This means only points already brought up in the earlier rounds.

Only convincing arguments points be allocated. Thus the debate is decided by the arguments presented in the debate, not irrelevant things such as spelling. Thus if my opponent accepts this rule, any vote on any other point but arguments will be removed my moderation.

I'd also like to clarify that we will be discussing the current system of capital punishment. Not how it will be 20 years from now, but how it is used and done right now. Thus, no counterplans should be allowed.

I look forward to debating my opponent, and hope to have an awesome debate. I look forward to his arguments!
Debate Round No. 1


I accept all my opponents rules, and look toward to a challenging debate. Just to clear things up - no arguments in the last round would mean you can only pull evidence and make arguments from the prior rounds? I accept if that is the case.

I hope it is a well known fact to my opponent that since Pro is invoking change, they must prove that the change they bring will be better than our current situation.

Our Current Situation:

The death penalty is currently adminatered to those who have commited violent acts of murder, and in some states those who have kidnapped or raped a person which resulted in their death.

Benifits of the death penalty:
1. The death penalty gives closure to the victim's families who have suffered so much. Think about it. What if you father, mother, sister, brother, best friend, girlfriend, or other close relationship was either brutaly killed or raped to death. Judges, in your own mind, consider the following question. Would you feel more at peace knowing that the criminal was given life without parole, and spent the rest of his life in prison? Or would it feel more just to excecute the wrongdoer and lay your feelings of anger to rest? Granted, the death penalty may not end the families grieving, but it will to a degree give them a sense of peace that justice has been done.

2. The death penalty ensures that victims will not escape and therefore will be unable to terrorize society again. While there is a waiting period for the death penalty (which is given to allow prisoners to try to prove their innocence or secure a lesser sentence) which prisoners may have an opprotunity to escape, prisoners have a much longer wait and therefore a much bigger opprotunity to escape from prison if they are simply given life without parole. If this point is challenged, I can present much evidence in the next round that shows various criminals escaping from prison. It does happen. And the death penalty will obviously prevent their escape.

3. The death penalty excecutes the people who deserve to die. If you will take the time to fully read the following article - will see the heinous crimes commited by those currently on death row who are deserving of death. By taking someone elses life, especially in the way they did, they have foreitted their own. Do these people deserve to live anymore? No, they do not. They have established themselves as menaces to society, they have brutally raped and killed children, women and some men. They do so with no concious, and such men are not deserving of life.

If the death penalty was abolished, we must ask oursleves what kind of people are we leaving alive?
-Serial killers
-Serial Rapists
-Some terrorists

If the death penalty is abolished, there will be no justice for the family and friends of the victim, there will be a possiblility of escape and it leaves people deserving of death alive.

For these reasons, the death penalty should remain intact, administered to the worst of our society.

Some may say that we should give Life without Parole(LWP), which means that the criminal is imprisoned for life and cannot be released ever. They say the death penalty is too cruel, and we should not use it. The United States in their constitution has banned cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court of the United States in Gregg v. Georgia, upheld the death penalty as lawful and constitutional. This means that the death penalty is neither a cruel or unusual punishment.

Some may still say that too many are given the death sentence. However, last year in 2015 only 28 men were excecuted all by lethal injection - which is considered the most humane way to excecute them. Thats not very many. In fact, most criminals do not commit crimes worthy of death, and many do recieve LWP. But - for the worst of the worst I would argue for the reasons listed above that the death penalty should not be abolished.

Even if there are some minor changes needed to the way the death penalty is given, how its given, when its given - that still doesnt mandate that the death penalty should be abolished completely.


This debate will be on the current death penalty, meaning that I will be arguing that the death penalty, as it exists now should be abolished. Not as it will exist ten or twenty years from now, only the current system.

My framework is simple. Capital punishment is unjust system, thus should be abolished.

The Right to Life
A government is created by the people in order to protect the people's unalienable rights. If a government fails to secure these for all citizens, then it is an unjust government. This is especially true for the United States as it was founded solely on this principle, outlined in Declaration of Independence. It reads,

“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…”

This concept is further demonstrated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a document created by the United Nations General Assembly. In Article 3, it state,

"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." [1]

Capital Punishment violates the right to life. This is a truism, and true regardless of what crimes the citizen does. As long as the criminal is a citizen, they are promised the right to life by the government. Violating this is unjust. As this is the United State’s sole, and fundamental purpose of existing, it is paramount that the death penalty is abolished.

In society, people will commit crimes. Some of the crimes are the most severe and therefore require the most severe punishment. In Con’s world this would be the death penalty, in my world it would be life imprisonment. Since the death penalty costs more than life imprisonment, abolishing the death penalty would warrant a net economic benefit.

Seattle University found that each death penalty case in Washington cost $1 million more than than life imprisonment cases [2]. The average cost of defending a trial in a federal death case is $620,932, about 8 times that of a federal murder case in which the death penalty is not sought [3]. Judge Arthur Alarcon and Professor Paula Mitchell calculated that if California commuted all those remaining on death row to life without parole, it would result in an immediate savings of 170 million per year, with a savings of 5 billion over the next 20 years. Considering that California has a debt of 778 billion dollars [4], abolishing the death penalty would have a significant economic benefit. The study estimates that the average cost to Maryland taxpayers for reaching a single death sentence is $3 million - $1.9 million more than the cost of a non-death penalty case. (This includes investigation, trial, appeals, and incarceration costs.) The study examined 162 capital cases that between 1978 and 1999 and found that those cases will cost $186 million more than what those cases would have cost had the death penalty not existed as a punishment. At every phase of a case, capital murder cases cost more than life imprisonment cases [5].

Abolishing the death penalty would bring significant economic benefit, thus we should abolish the death penalty.

The death penalty is a broken system, it punishes not based on the crime, but on your ethnicity, your wealth, and the quality of your lawyer. For example, in Louisiana, the odds of a death sentence were 97% higher for those whose victim was white than for those whose victim was black [6], when the circumstances of the case were similar. In Oklahoma and Missouri, black Americans are overrepresented on death row by nearly a factor of four [7]. This is furthered by the times a court messes up on a case.

“Nationally, during the 23-year study period, the overall rate of prejudicial error in the American capital punishment system was 68%. In other words, courts found serious, reversible error in nearly 7 of every 10 of the thousands of capital sentences that were fully reviewed during the period.” [8]

“26 Death Row inmates…have received a new trial or sentencing because their attorneys' incompetence rendered the verdict or sentence unfair, court records show…33 defendants sentenced to death were represented at trial by an attorney who had been, or was later, disbarred or suspended--disciplinary sanctions reserved for conduct so incompetent, unethical or even criminal that the state believes an attorney's license should be taken away.” [9]

"Poor people are also far more likely to be death sentenced than those who can afford the high costs of private investigators, psychiatrists, and expert criminal lawyers." [10]

Criminals are not sentenced by the heinous of their crime, but rather by the quality of their representation, their social class, and the color of their skin. This is inherently unjust, and since the criminal justice system is contingent upon justice, if justice is violated, it is paramount it is corrected. Thus the death penalty must be abolished.

Since we can never know with 100% certainty whether someone is actually guilty, mistakes are bound to happen. This is an inevitable fact, and a discomforting one. Yet any other mistaken punishment, it can be reversed. But when the punishment is an irreversible such as death, mistakes simply can’t happen.

“You can release an innocent man from prison, but you can’t release him from the grave.” -Freddie Lee Pitts, a man exonerated from death row for a crime he did not commit.

Between 1973 and 2015, 148 innocent citizens were exonerated and released from death-row [11]. 4.1% of those executed are innocent [12]. The fact that there is a possibility at all that an innocent person could be executed is reason enough to abolish the death penalty as an unjust system.

Now onto the rebuttals.

The death penalty gives closure to the victim's families who have suffered so much

This notion is blatantly false. It is proven that the death penalty does not give closure to families, but instead furthers their suffering. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology did a study in 2008 and concluded,

“Revenge has hedonic consequences that are the opposite of what people expect. Revenge can prolong peoples’ hedonic reactions to a transgression because punishing others can cause people to continue to think about (rather than to forget) those whom they have punished.” [13]

A 2007 study found that the victims’ families felt closure in 2.5% of cases [14].

Furthermore, since the death penalty creates a second grieving family, the family of the criminal executed; even if we accept that capital punishment gives closure to families, it replaces it will even more suffering, thus negating the purpose in the first place. Given that the death penalty does not completely remove all suffering from the victim’s families, the new family’s suffering (family of executed criminal) actually adds to the overall suffering. Therefore, the death penalty does not result in a reduction in suffering for families, it merely adds to it.

The death penalty ensures that victims will not escape
Con argues that the death penalty prevents criminals from escaping prison and terrorizing society again. He provides no evidence that criminals escape from prison, and has promised that he will provide evidence of it next round if asked. Since this entire argument of Con’s is unsubstantiated (we have no reason to believe that criminals have escaped from death row, given how high security is), this argument has absolutely zero weight, based on bare assertion fallacy.

The death penalty executes people who deserve to die
Con argues that criminals forfeit their right to live by doing terrible crimes. And thus that they deserve the death penalty. Yet, as my first contention shows, the government has no way to justify violating the right to life, it is an unalienable right. Thus, this argument is directly negated by my human rights argument.

Debate Round No. 2


MaxLamperouge forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


I would like to apologize to Pro for my forfeit, as this was an exciting debate.
I give the debate to him.
The reason I forfeit was because I was badly injured yesterday in a soccer match and could not even get out of bed.
I apologize.


No worries, best wishes to Con
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by llaurenthellama 4 months ago
The debater known as Hayd is known for befriending people without a given reason. We recommend you do your research on him before adding this user as a friend/follower.
Thank you for reading
Posted by Hayd 6 months ago
Thanks :)
Posted by MaxLamperouge 6 months ago
Excellent arguments!
Great job man!
Posted by MaxLamperouge 6 months ago
Sorry, one of the articles is not showing in my argument - here it is
Posted by MaxLamperouge 6 months ago
I dont remember exactly since its been a year, but it was something to do with bacelona like fcbarca99 or something.
I should have an argument to you by this evening.
Posted by Hayd 6 months ago
What was your prior account?
Posted by MaxLamperouge 6 months ago
Yes, many times in real life and my prior account on this site.
Posted by Seagull 6 months ago
I may be interested in accepting. Have you ever debated before?
Posted by MaxLamperouge 6 months ago
Good luck to my contender!
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Conspiracyrisk 6 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con literally gives the win to Pro voluntarily.
Vote Placed by fire_wings 6 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit/ Concession
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 6 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Concession.
Vote Placed by famousdebater 6 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Concession in R4.