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

should the death penalty be used in the united states

Do you like this debate?NoYes+8
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/3/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 11,666 times Debate No: 6752
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




the death penalty should be used in the united states for the following 13 reasons

Financial costs to taxpayers of capital punishment is several times that of keeping someone in prison for life. Most people don't realize that carrying out one death sentence costs 2-5 times more than keeping that same criminal in prison for the rest of his life. How can this be? It has to do with the endless appeals, additional required procedures, and legal wrangling that drag the process out. It's not unusual for a prisoner to be on death row for 15-20 years. Judges, attorneys, court reporters, clerks, and court facilities all require a substantial investment by the taxpayers. Do we really have the resources to waste?

It is barbaric and violates the "cruel and unusual" clause in the Bill of Rights. Whether it's a firing squad, electric chair, gas chamber, lethal injection, or hanging, it's barbaric to allow state-sanctioned murder before a crowd of people. We condemn people like Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il when they murder their own people while we continue to do the same (although our procedures for allowing it are obviously more thorough). The 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prevents the use of "cruel and unusual punishment". Many would interpret the death penalty as violating this restriction.

The endless appeals and required additional procedures clog our court system. The U.S. court system goes to enormous lengths before allowing a death sentence to be carried out. All the appeals, motions, hearings, briefs, etc. monopolize much of the time of judges, attorneys, and other court employees as well as use up courtrooms & facilities. This is time & space that could be used for other unresolved matters. The court system is tremendously backed up. This would help move things along.

We as a society have to move away from the "eye for an eye" revenge mentality if civilization is to advance. The "eye for an eye" mentality will never solve anything. A revenge philosophy inevitably leads to an endless cycle of violence. Why do you think the Israeli-Palestine conflict has been going on for 50+ years? Why do you think gang violence in this country never seems to end? It is important to send a message to society that striking back at your enemy purely for revenge will always make matters worse.

It sends the wrong message: why kill people who kill people to show killing is wrong. Yes, we want to make sure there is accountability for crime and an effective deterrent in place; however, the death penalty has a message of "You killed one of us, so we'll kill you". The state is actually using a murder to punish someone who committed a murder. Does that make sense?

Life in prison is a worse punishment and a more effective deterrent. For those of you who don't feel much sympathy for a murderer, keep in mind that death may be too good for them. With a death sentence, the suffering is over in an instant. With life in prison, the pain goes on for decades. Prisoners are confined to a cage and live in an internal environment of rape and violence where they're treated as animals. And consider terrorists. Do you think they'd rather suffer the humiliation of lifelong prison or be "martyred" by a death sentence?

Other countries (especially in Europe) would have a more favorable image of America. It's no secret that anti-Americanism is rampant around the world. One of the reasons is America's continued use of the death penalty. We're seen as a violent, vengeful nation for such a policy. This is pretty much the same view that Europeans had of America when we continued the practice of slavery long after it had been banned in Europe.

Some jury members are reluctant to convict if it means putting someone to death. Many states require any jury members to be polled during the pre-trial examination to be sure they have the stomach to sentence someone to death before they're allowed to serve. Even if they're against the death penalty, they still may lie in order to get on the panel. The thought of agreeing to kill someone even influences some jury members to acquit rather than risk the death. Some prosecutors may go for a lesser charge rather than force juries into a death-or-acquit choice. Obviously, in all these situations, justice may not be served.

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. One victim's innocent family is obviously forced to suffer from a capital murder, but by enforcing a death sentence, you force another family to suffer. Why double the suffering when we don't have to?

The possibility exists that innocent men and women may be put to death. There are several documented cases where DNA testing showed that innocent people were put to death by the government. We have an imperfect justice system where poor defendants are given minimal legal attention by often lesser qualified individuals. Some would blame the court system, not that death penalty itself for the problems, but we can't risk mistakes.

Mentally ill patients may be put to death. Many people are simply born with defects to their brain that cause them to act a certain way. No amount of drugs, schooling, rehabilitation, or positive reinforcement will change them. Is it fair that someone should be murdered just because they were unlucky enough to be born with a brain defect. Although it is technically unconstitutional to put a mentally ill patient to death, the rules can be vague, and you still need to be able to convince a judge and jury that the defendant is in fact, mentally ill.

It creates sympathy for the monsterous perpetrators of the crimes. Criminals usually are looked down upon by society. People are disgusted by the vile, unconscionable acts they commit and feel tremendous sympathy for the victims of murder, rape, etc. However, the death penalty has a way of shifting sympathy away from the victims and to the criminals themselves. An excellent example is the 2005 execution of former gang leader "Tookie" Williams. This is a man who founded the notorious Crips gang, which has a long legacy of robbery, assault, and murder. This is a man who was convicted with overwhelming evidence of the murder of 4 people, some of whom he shot in the back and then laughed at the sounds they made as they died. This is a man who never even took responsiblity for the crimes or apologized to the victims -- NOT ONCE! These victims had kids and spouses, but instead of sympathy for them, sympathy shifted to Tookie. Candlelight vigils were held for him. Websites like sprung up. Protests and a media circus ensued trying to prevent the execution, which eventually did take place -- 26 years after the crime itself! There are many cases like this, which makes a mockery of the evil crimes these degenerates commit.

It is useless in that it doesn't bring the victim back to life. Perhaps the biggest reason to ban the death penalty is that it doesn't change the fact that the victim is gone and will never come back. Hate, revenge, and anger will never cure the emptiness of a lost loved one. Forgiveness is the only way to start the healing process, and this won't happen in a revenge-focused individual.


Right I'd just like to clear up the confusion- I'm PRO, my opponent should be Con.

Moving on.

My value is Justice, which is defined as giving each their due. This should be looked at the standard because we are discussing the death penalty, which is a punishment, and thus since all punishments deal with justice, justice should be the value.
The value criterion for justice is Proportionality, or having the punishment fit the crime. In order to give each his or her due, we must give criminals a punishment that fits their crime as this is the only way to give him his due. It would not make sense to give a murderer a $100 fine, as this punishment does not fit his crime, and thus is not just. Therefore in order to uphold justice we must look at what punishment will fit the crime.

Contention 1) The very idea of murder constitutes the death penalty. By committing a murder, you are committing the most extreme crime against humanity and violating a person's right to life, and thus violating every single right they have. Additionally, their crime no longer affects the victim directly, but the entire populous as the crime breaks the moral codes that allow society to function. The government must view the crime as such and therefore must give a punishment that can fit it. However this cannot be done simply by restricting a person's movements through prison, because they violated all of the victim's rights. The only way to proportionally deliver punishment for the most extreme crime is by the most extreme punishment, the death penalty.

Contention 2) Universialtiy. The renowned philosopher Immanuel Kant stated, "Act only according to that maxim which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law." Kant held the idea that each person has a free rational choice, and because the criminal has made the free rational choice to put forth a maxim stating that killing is allowed, then we must fulfill this maxim. The only way to achieve justice is to give the murderer what he believes should be the moral maxim, death.


>>1) Financial Resources.

My opponent states that financial costs should dictate punishment. However, this completely contradicts the entire idea of the United States. Firstly, it would be much cheaper to ship all the prisoners to Alaska and let them starve and freeze to death, however I doubt my opponent would want that.
Secondly, this basically states that the system is flawed, not the death penalty. Look at the presidential election. Billions of dollars went into advertising, ect. for that election that could have gone to other things. Does that mean that electing our presidents should not be done? It would be cheaper just to appoint a dictator, however the idea of electing our presidents is allowed. Thus the death penaltyis allowed.

>>2) Cruel and Unusual Punsishment.
First off, the Supreme Court has ruled the death penalty to the states, and thus ruled it as Constitutional. Thus the Constitution itself, which gives the Supreme Court power to rule things constitutional or not has ruled the death penalty constitutional.
Secondly, Kim Jong Il and other dictators kill INNOCENT people. We kill MURDERS to protect our society and uphold justice. There is a difference.

>>3) Clogs Court system
TURN this, if we spend so much time on these cases, this contradicts my opponents idea of killing innocents.
Second, once again, as I stated against his first point, this just points to a flaw in the system, not the act.

>>4)"Eye for an eye"
First, there is a difference between Israel-Palestine and gang warfare. Both those things are fueled by hate. The death penalty is fueled by justice.
Secondly, I agree we cant just say an eye for an eye, that's why we don't rape rapists and kidnap kidnappers. However at a certain point we must make the crime fit the punishment and the only way to do this with a murderer is the death penalty.

>>5) It sends the wrong message
TURN- we kill people who kill people because they killed someone! They have shown how they want society to be, and therefore they should receive what they have done.
Also, every punishment does this according to my opponent. If someone steals a million dollars, or kidnaps a child, then we fine the person who stole and put the kidnapper in jail. My opponent would completely remove all punishment because all punishment does just what my opponent says makes no sense.

>>6) Life sentences are more punishment.
TURN- Wait a second. My opponent claims that the death penalty is barbaric, cruel and unusual, then claims that we should give them a life sentence, because its worse? This is an obvious contradiction. Therefore, if he is to state that we should give a worse punishment, then there is no reason not to give the death penalty.

>>7) Other countries.
The US should not act in such a way that other countries want us to. If other countries wanted us to withdraw our military forces from every other country(which by the way many do) should we? Of course not, this would completely blind us to any impending attack and thus strip us of defense.

>>8) Jury members are reluctant to convict.
TURN- in the situation where the prosecutor goes for a lesser charge, my opponent states justice won't be served. Thus he acknowledges that the death penalty is just. End of debate right here.
Second, the prosecutor doesn't decide what the punishment is, only the charges, i.e. murder 1, murder 2.

>>9) Family's Pain
They will suffer either way, the trial will be emotionally draining either way. Also, the victim's family will suffer knowing that the kill is still alive after his actions.

>>10) Possibility of innocents killed.
My opponent even previously stated that they go through such a long appeal process meant to ensure no innocents are killed.
Second, DNA testing almost completely destroys that possibility in modern times.

>>11) Mentally Ill people may be killed.
But my opponent ignores the fact that you can plead not guilty for reasons of insanity, when you will be examined by medical professionals. If you are found to be mentally insane, you will not be killed but moved to a secure psychiatric facility.

>>12) It creates sympathy.
First, this has no impact. What some people yell, a dozen others will think the opposite. My opponent offers no stats stating the majority of people thought Tookie should be saved, only the idea that a group of people did. Also, does this really matter? We can't let the popularity of each decision be the reason if its right or wrong; if we did slavery was right in 1700.

>>13) It's useless.
Far from it. By using the death penalty, you ensure that there will be no more victims from this murderer and justice is upheld.
Additionally, I have no idea why my opponent is bringing the idea of anger, hate and revenge into this. The death penalty is about none of those, it is a way to ensure that the criminal is given his or her due.
Debate Round No. 1


ok i see where i messed up i'm sry if we could restart this debate it would be cool


As I stated in the comments section, if we restart now, I will not have time to finish.
I don't think the sides will make that much of a difference, when people read the debate they will quickly see the mistake.
So if we could just continue this debate and ignore this round that would be great.
Debate Round No. 2


austinm1333 forfeited this round.


Unfortunately my opponent has forfeited. Extend my entire case and refutations of his.
Debate Round No. 3


austinm1333 forfeited this round.


My opponent has forfeited again, and since has has neither defended his own case nor attacked mine throughout this entire debate, I urge you to vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by mcc1789 6 years ago
I think both of you argued well. I'm sorry that austinm1333 did not get any votes-I would have added mine. While TheRaven did argue quite well, I do not believe he truly refuted what was argued. I will therefore challenge TheRaven to a new debate on this issue, with myself on the con side (I see the confusion here). That said, I am not sure about the death penalty. Debating would help me to think over this issue further.
Posted by LightC 7 years ago
Pretty much. The 8th Amendment only deals with the punishment equaling the crime, i.e. proportionality.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 7 years ago
Woohoo, so with the right set of interpretations, the 8th amendment has no power whatsoever.

Ty Cirro, I'll probably make use of that someday, and not just in a debate :)
Posted by LightC 7 years ago
Note: Austinm1333 interprets the 8th Amendment in a flawed way. The philosopher behind the 8th Amendment argued that a punishment is only cruel if it is unproportionate. Thus, the 8th amendment links directly to "TheRaven's" VC, and thus allows the death penalty.
Posted by TheRaven 7 years ago
Um, i don't have time to restart this debate, in one week im going to the Harvard debate tournament...does it make a difference about the sides? i think ppl can realize the mistake.
Posted by Johnicle 7 years ago
You took the wrong side of this debate. Generally when the topis is asked in a question, the PRO side is the 'yes' and the CON side is the 'no'... I would recomend re-challenging the debate as the CON side.
Posted by austinm1333 7 years ago
this is ganna be a good debate
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by TheRaven 7 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07