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

America Should Make the Death Penalty a National Law

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/7/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,118 times Debate No: 40117
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (0)
Votes (1)




First: Acceptance
Second: Arguments
Third: Arguments/Rebuttals
Fourth: Rebuttals, No Further Arguments


I negate the resolution Resolved: America should make the death penalty a national law.

First, an observation. I, as the negative, do not have to provide an alternative to the death penalty, nor do I have to uphold the current system of punishment, sans death penalty.

Contention One: The death penalty is an immoral, unjust, and impractical practice.
Subpoint A: The death penalty is immoral

Under the Status Quo, the death penalty is not a permissible form of punishment.

First, the suffering endured by victims and the executors of the death penalty is severe, in-dignifying, and evil. Gas chamber executions, besides resembling nazi techniques, take upwards of a quarter of an hour of excruciating pain, asphyxiation, and panic to kill their victims. Hanging and the electric chair, although if used properly are among the fastest methods, both have one fatal flaw. A simple accident in human error can cause them to misfunction, requiring more pain, more time, and more cruelty to kill. The firing squad, although it has no recorded instances of causing excess pain to the victim, causes the executioners to be directly morally liable for the death of a human being, which has been documented to cause self-destructive behavior later in life. Lastly, one of the most popular forms of execution is lethal injection, but even this doesn't give the victim the dignity that we assure to animals. The second-stage of lethal injection drugs acts as a paralytic, causing the victim to be completely immobile, as their heart slowly stops. The issue with this is that even when they are paralyzed and the cells in their heart continue to function, their brain stays alive, sensing everything, through it's own death.

In addition, the dehumanization caused by knowing the existential reality of oneself, the utter destruction of hope in an individual leading up to execution, is simply not permissible. Suicide rates on death row are shockingly higher than in the rest of the prison system, even among inmates with life without parole.

We must not allow such an inhumane act, even on the scum of our society.

Next, the death penalty causes suffering to the victim or the victim's family, who many times have no say in the fate of the criminal, and yet are forced, by law, to observe executions. reports "The death penalty process is a traumatizing experience for families, often requiring them to relive the pain and suffering of the death of their loved one for many years. Life without parole provides certain punishment without the endless reopening of wounds." In addition, it causes victims and their families, who have already been psychologically scarred by the crime, to blame themselves for the actions of the criminal, and the death of the criminal.

Subpoint B: The death penalty is impractical

By it's very nature, death is an irreversible endeavor, and human error has been constant throughout human history. There have been dozens of wrongly executed individuals, and every one of these is one of the greatest harms to human rights humanity has ever experienced. Northwestern University school of law notes that there have been at least 39 cases of the execution of innocent civilians, wrongfully accused. The legal system is imperfect, and thus must not have definite capital punishment.

Contention Two: A national law harms states rights

In addition to the massive human rights violations of execution, the national law established by the topic means that there would be a mandate of execution across all states on violent crime. This is unconstitutional, as legislation on prison systems is EXPLICITLY left to the states in the constitution. Furthermore, it would overturn state constitutional protections AGAINST the death penalty, and would thus harm our federalism which we hold dear.

To conclude, we mustn't allow such an atrocious act to take place, especially on a national level.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you Con, for posting the argument so swiftly. I assume you just misread the directions above, and/or were confused about the directions given.

As the negative, you state that you "do not have to provide an alternative to the death penalty...uphold the current system of punishment." I then have a question for Con, which is simply, how do you expect to make a change for the death penalty if you feel it is not your job to do so?

My rebuttal of Cons first contention goes on to explain how some points made by Con were wrong and/or not backed up with fact.

Con states that victims suffer pain, as well as the executioners. I would like to point out that executioners are not just anyone pulled off the street. Often times, they are guards or former police officers, who have seen their fair share of death. Seen in [1], the executioners need to be deemed capable of the task by the prison's warden. This task isn't just given to anyone.

Another point that Con made was the pain endured by the inmate. I would like to pint out no evidence is brought up to make this claim true. His first claim, about the gas chamber, can be disproved in [2] where it states "In 1924, the use of cyanide gas was introduced as Nevada sought a more humane way of executing its inmates. Gee Jon was the first person executed by lethal gas...Today, five states authorize lethal gas as a method of execution, but all have lethal injection as an alternative method...The last use of a gas chamber was on March 3, 1999, when Walter LaGrand, a German national, was executed in Arizona."

The Firing squad, another example brought up by Con, is used in two states, only if requested by the victim. [3] Shows how this process is carried out, pain free. Con also fails to state how or what errors could cause a victims death to take longer for the electric chair or hanging.

"Lastly, one of the most popular forms of execution is lethal injection, but even this doesn't give the victim the dignity that we assure to animals..." Con stated this, but fails to also show the voters that the victim is under anesthesia, the same drug they use to put patients to sleep during surgeries, before the injection is given. The inmate dies while sleeping, probably the most humane way to allow an inmate to be executed.

Con then states that the death penalty is impractical. I have a question for him, and it is as follows. How can the death penalty be impractical? He puts the statistic of 39 wrongly accused victims of the death penalty. While that seems a lot, he fails to put in the time zone, which could range as far back as The American Revolution.

Going back to my earlier point about the impracticality, it costs a city around an average of 168,000 per inmate per year, as seen in [4]. How then, is it impractical, to save cities hundreds of thousands per year in taxes? Just two inmate executions would save roughly 336,000 dollars a year, also reducing taxes paid by the American people who work hard for their money, which only goes to inmates who have committed unthinkable acts.

Con states in his second contention that a national law harms states rights. This of course, is seen throughout history. Abolishing slavery, Civil Liberties, and Universal Suffrage are only a few examples of these laws. Federalism is defined as "A system of government where the central government holds a majority of the power," seen in [5]

The hierarchy system of our government goes to display how the argument provided is not only wrong, but falsified. Prison systems are an Implied Power in the Constitution, which means it is Congress' job to give this power to the Federal Government or the States. The Federal Government, has power over the states, called the Hierarchy of power [6].
Education also falls under the category of an Implied Power.

In conclusion, the death penalty does not cause harm to the victims, nor their executors, mentally or physically, will save the states and cities who house them thousands per year, and would be supported by our Constitution, should Congress decide to enact this law.

Thank you Con again for accepting the debate, and I would like to point out to voters, I am simply playing the devil's advocate. This is not necessarily a personal opinion of mine, so please do not vote based on beliefs, but vote based on content. Thank You.



dnerd forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


As Con forfeited this round, I will wait to post new arguments.


dnerd forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Pro has forfeited this round, so I will wait to post further arguments.


dnerd forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by miketheman1200 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Con ignored the first rules of the debate and then FF the rest. This goes to pro.