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The Contender
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Capital punishment

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/21/2012 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,775 times Debate No: 23044
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




I will argue against capital punishment as CON

The most common arguments are:

*Cost of Death vs. Life in Prison

Round 1 acceptance only


I accept this challenge, and will argue in favor of capital punishment.

Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


First I need to say thx to my opponent(OPP)for accepting this debate. I also would like to say thx to our audience.

That being said capital punishment(CP)does not work. There is a wealth of mounting evidence that proves this fact. The death penalty, both in the U.S. and around the world, is discriminatory and is used disproportionately against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic and religious communities. I think we can all agree that since humans are fallible the risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated.

The astronomical costs associated with putting a person on death row including criminal investigations, lengthy trials and appeals are leading many states to re-evaluate and re-consider having this flawed and unjust system on the books.

Death Penalty(DP)key arguments:

In recent times opponents have shown the death penalty to be racist, barbaric, and in violation with the United States Constitution as "cruel and unusual punishment." In this country although laws governing the application of the death penalty have undergone many changes since biblical times, the punishment endures, and controversy has never been greater.

State killings are morally bankrupt. Why do governments kill people to show other people that killing people is wrong ? Humanity becomes associated with murderers when it replicate their deeds. Would society allow rape as the penalty for rape or the burning of arsonists homes as the penalty for arson ?

The death penalty violates constitutional prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment. The grotesque killing of Robert Harris by the state of California on April 21,1992 and similar reports of witnesses to hangings and lethal injections should leave doubt that the dying process can be and often is grossly inhumane, regardless of method.

The death penalty is not a viable form of crime control. When police chiefs were asked to rank the factors that, in their judgment, reduce the rate of violent crime, they mentioned curbing drug use and putting more officers on the street, longer sentences and gun control. They ranked the death penalty as least effective. I think we can agree that people kill others usually in a fit of rage meaning they do not stop to think if the state has a DP or not. Also politicians who preach the desirability of executions as a method of crime control deceive the public and mask their own failure to identify and confront the true causes of crime.

I need to point out that opposing the death penalty does not indicate a lack of sympathy for murder victims. On the contrary, murder demonstrates a lack of respect for human life. Because life is precious and death irrevocable, murder is abhorrent, and a policy of state authorized killings is immoral. It epitomizes the tragic inefficacy and brutality of violence, rather than reason, as the solution to difficult social problems. Many murder victims do not support state sponsored violence to avenge the death of their loved one. Sadly these victims have often been marginalized by politicians and prosecutors, who would rather publicize the opinions of pro-death penalty family members.

I look forward for my OPP arguments........



First off, I would like to thank my opponent for starting this debate, as this is a particular subject I like to debate. I would also like to mention that I'm still new to this site, so I apologize if my structure isn't great.

Now, I would like to start off by saying that I don't believe all murderers should be executed. I think that judges need to contemplate what punishment would be suitable for a particular criminal, and if the DP is seen as suitable, then so be it. As far as "cruel and unusual punishment" goes, I don't think it should always apply to the DP. Take for example, Charles Manson. He is one criminal who most certainly should have been executed, had California allowed the DP as a form of punishment when he was convicted. It should apply to those who have a complete and utter disregard of human life.

It should not, however, apply to those who act out of anger, and may otherwise be good people. For example, those with family problems. Maybe two parents are getting a divorce, and the Father, when emotions of anger and sadness are running high, murders his family. He's not thinking straight, and perhaps he was otherwise a good Father and Husband. In this case, the DP should not be issued as a punishment. It does nothing really, and with proper psychological help, he may be able to become a good citizen again, after his sentence.

But for those who contemplate murder of other people, plan it out, and commit not just one, but many murders, and completely disregard the preciousness of human life, those people should be executed. Because no other form of punishment is suitable.

Obviously, some (even most) murderers don't care about the consequences of their crime. Sometimes doing some prison time will do a criminal well. Maybe the horrendous crime he committed will wake him up, and cause him to change his ways, and after a good 10-15 years in prison, he may decide to change his life. However, there are those who just aren't worth trying to save,who aren't worth wasting time and resources on, because there is no changing them. Life in prison is worthless in a lot of cases. You spend the rest of your life with free food, a free bed, and other privileges such as TV and college classes. If you aren't serving a life sentence, fine, this makes sense. But for a convicted murderer serving life? Then why shouldn't you commit a murder? You get a pretty decent life.

Now, I don't think that the DP is issued with racial motivation. In this graph ( ) taken from 1976-2005, statistics showed that blacks committed 52% of all homicides. If you are convicted, it is left up to the discretion of a Judge to decide whether the DP is a suitable punishment, and then it is appealed several times, usually taking 2 decades before a decision is finally reached. Since that is the case, it is safe to say that if a convicted murderer is given the DP, it was not racially motivated. If it was, then the sentence would have been changed in one of the appeals. I am not saying that Whites or Hispanics should not be executed. I am simply stating that, since they committed more murders, they have a larger chance at receiving the DP.

In conclusion, I don't think that the Death Penalty is a good form of crime control, however in some cases it is really the only good option. Some people just aren't worth keeping in prison for some decades.
Debate Round No. 2


My OPP made sound arguments it is just that as he stated "I think that judges need to contemplate what punishment would be suitable for a particular criminal, and if the DP is seen as suitable, then so be it." Well there is no room for emotions and hot-headed behavior in the judicial system. A judge can be biased.

Our system of criminal justice for all its protections is sufficiently fallible that innocent people are convicted of capital crimes. The morality of the death penalty has been hotly debated for almost a century in the U.S. The debate has swayed both ways, resulting in a moratorium on the punishment and a change in the procedure for applying the punishment. The institution of the death penalty in the United States is a fallible, unconstitutional and grossly abused appendage of the judicial system.

One major argument against the death penalty highlights the fact that killing a person ends their right to due process. Once a person is dead they can no longer appeal their conviction, so even if new evidence comes forward, the person remains dead. The death penalty is the most final and unforgiving punishment imaginable. This poses problems because our system is fallible and prone to error. That is why the appeals process exists, so that errors can be corrected. In a system that prides itself on the importance of the appeals process the death penalty remains as the juggernaut of punishments.

If the death penalty is cruel and it is a fallible system in which innocents have been executed, does this mean that the State if guilty of murder? Under a representative democracy there is no absolute leader that is placed above the law. Because murders have been committed and they have been done so in a systematic manner, doesn't this then mean the State has murdered? Many people would argue that the State has to be able to make mistakes, because it is a institution of humanity.

If the punishment is absolute and final, shouldn't the State doing the punishing be fallible? The idea of a State that can be wrong convicting and executing its citizens is everything the framers of the Constitution stood against.

People that have been proven innocent after execution:

(1) Carlos De Luna was executed in 1989

In February 1983, Wanda Lopez, was stabbed to death during her night shift at the gas station where she worked. After a manhunt, police found De Luna hiding under a truck. Recently released from prison, he was violating his parole by drinking in public. De Luna told police that he was innocent and he offered the name of the person who he saw at the gas station. Police ignored the fact that he did not have a drop of blood on him even though the crime scene was covered in blood. The single eyewitness confirmed to police that De Luna was the murderer after police told him he was the right guy.

At trial De Luna named Carlos Hernandez as the man he saw inside the gas station, across the street from the bar where De Luna had been drinking. Hernandez and DeLuna were strikingly similar in appearance but, unlike DeLuna, Hernandez had a long history of knife attacks similar to the convenience store killing and repeatedly told friends and relatives that he had committed the murder. Friends confirmed that he was romantically linked to Lopez as well. De Luna's lawyers knew of Hernandez's criminal past but never thoroughly investigated his previous crimes. On December 7, 1989, Texas executed 27-year old Carlos De Luna.

(2) Larry Griffin executed in 1995

On June 26, 1980 in St. Louis 19-year-old Quintin Moss was killed in a drive-by shooting. The conviction was based largely on the testimony from Robert Fitzgerald a white career criminal, who was at the scene at the time of the murder. He testified that he saw three black men in the car when shots were fired and that Griffin shot the victim through the window of the car with his right hand. This was Griffin's attorneys first murder trial and he did not challenge the testimony even though Griffin was left-handed. He also failed to bring forth an alibi witness who was with Griffin at the time of the murder.

Griffin's fingerprints were not found on the car or the weapon all evidence against him was circumstantial. There is evidence that suggests Fitzgerald was promised a reduce sentence in exchange for his testimony. The prosecution also failed to address that there were two other witnesses who confirmed that Griffin did not commit the murder and they were able to name the three men who did. Appeals courts upheld his conviction and death sentence. Griffin was executed by lethal injection on June 21, 1995. Griffin maintained his innocence right up to his execution. In 2005, a professor University of Michigan Law School reopened the case. His investigation concluded that Griffin was innocent.

(3) Leo Jones executed 1998

On May 23, 1981 in Jacksonville, FL police officer Thomas Szafranski killed when shots were fired at his police cruiser when he was stopped at an intersection. Within minutes police officers busted into Leo Jones' apartment where they found Jones and his cousin, Bobby Hammonds. Police took both men in for questioning and then charged Jones, who they claimed had confessed. Hammonds gave a statement, saying he saw Jones leave the apartment with a rifle and return after he heard some gunshots. In 1997, a retired police officer, Cleveland Smith, came forward and said the officer that arrested Jones had bragged that he beat Jones after his arrest. Smith, who described the officer as an "enforcer" testified that he once watched him get a confession from a suspect through torture. Smith claimed that he waited so long to come forward with this evidence because he wanted to secure his pension.

More than a dozen people had implicated another man as the killer saying they either saw him carrying a rifle as he ran from the crime scene or heard him brag he had shot the officer. Even Florida Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw wrote that Jones case had become "a horse of a different color". Newly discovered evidence, Shaw wrote, "casts serious doubt on Jones guilt." Shaw and one other judge voted to grant Jones a new trial. However, a five-judge majority ruled against him. Jones was executed by electric chair on March 24, 1998.

These are just a few innocent people executed. Since 1976 there have been 1292 people executed...How many were innocent nobody will ever know. If one INNOCENT person is executed capital punishment is flawed and has to be abolished. This is literally life and death.

"I will believe in the death penalty when you will prove to me the infallibility of human beings"
--Marquis de Lafayette


I cannot deny that our Judicial system is flawed, and has committed some horrible, irreversible mistakes. However, over the past decade or two, we have very much improved our forensic investigations, and more appeals are granted, to insure that the right criminal is punished. I don't think that every murderer should be executed. Just those who committed a horrendous crime, like that of an illegal immigrant in 1994.

[1] In 1994, in the city of San Antonio Texas, illegal immigrant Humberto kidnapped, raped, and murdered 16 year old Adria Sauceda. She was bludgeoned to death a piece of asphalt, and was found with a 15 inch stick with a screwdriver in one end, protruding from her vagina. After 16 years of appeals, he was executed via lethal injection, even though President Obama urged the execution to be delayed. This is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. This was a heinous crime, and he was found guilty beyond any reasonable doubt (he was found with her blood on him, as well as in his car).

In your examples of wrong execution, there was reason to believe that they were all innocent. I believe, however, that it should be reserved for heinous crimes where the suspect is guilty beyond all doubt. If there is any reason to doubt his guilt, life sentence, no parole. This is why we have appeals.

The case of Humberto Leal is also an example of why I don't think some murderers should housed and fed for the rest of their lifes. It doesn't do any good. There is no changing them, and there is no reason to waste time and resources on people like him. Yes it is expensive, but in some cases it may not be, and it may be for the better good.

One other case where the death penalty was justified was the case of Troy Davis [2]. I'm sure plenty of people remember this case, as he was executed only about 6 months ago, and it caused quite a ruckus thanks to race baiters like Al Sharpton, but to refresh memories, he was convicted of killing Mark MacPhail, a police officer, working at the time as a security guard. MacPhail attempted to break up a fight between a man and a homeless man. He was then shot twice, in the heart and the face. Witnesses saw Davis at the scene, and after searching Davis' home and Davis was found to have possessed the same clothes as the suspect, and owned a gun of the same caliber as the bullets that shot MacPhail. There were 34 witnesses, and the man who was in the scuffle with the homeless man said Davis had harassed him and his friend earlier in the evening, with a gun of the same caliber as the murder weapon. This is another case, the murder of a cop, that warrants the death penalty, and he was found guilty beyond any doubt (34 witnesses is more than sufficient in my opinion). So his execution was warranted.

Now, I admit, there are problems with the death penalty. Other than the possibility of the wrong suspect being executed, it does cost a lot of money. Sometimes, more than it would have, had they houses the murderer for life, without parole. However, it can be fixed.

1. Less executions

In my opinion, not every murder warrants the death penalty. As mentioned in my previous argument, the murderer may not have known what he was doing. For example, DUI manslaughter. This is a terrible crime, that warrants a lengthy sentence, and possibly having their drivers license revoked for life, but not the death penalty. It should be reserved for either pre meditated murder, serial murders, murders of cops (possibly), and horrendous murders (such as the Humberto Leal case). Otherwise, a lengthy sentence, possibly life without parole.

2. Speedier trials

It is no secret lawyers love murder cases. It's a great chance for both the prosecutor and the defense attorneys to make a lot of money. So they will obviously ask for lengthy delays, and lots of appeals. Unless there is reason to believe that there is more evidence to gather, then there is no reason for the length of some delays that are granted. There also should be a limit in appeals. If a man is guilty beyond any doubt, then there is no reason to grant these numerous appeals. Again, referencing the Humberto Leal case, there were no other suspects, no more evidence to gather, and yet he was on death row for 14-15 years. Same for Troy Davis.
The 6th amendment states that " "in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy . . . trial . . . ." [3] It's hard to argue that some of these trials on death row are "quick and speedy". Yes, you have lifes on the line, but there is a point where there is no doubt of the guilt of some criminals, and so the amount of appeals should be significantly lowered.


In conclusion, I don't see any reason why the death penalty should be outlawed entirely. I think it should be used conservatively, but I think it should still be an option for punishment of some criminals.




Debate Round No. 3


My OPP has made good arguments but as he stated "I cannot deny that our Judicial system is flawed, and has committed some horrible, irreversible mistakes".........."we have very much improved our forensic investigations, and more appeals are granted, to insure that the right criminal is punished"

The problem is that there is a chance of error which is irreversible and we cannot take that chance. The wrongful execution of an innocent person is an injustice that can never be rectified. If one innocent person is not executed and 50 guilty are not executed we can live with that but the vica versa we cant live with that. Tell me how many innocent people is it worth to kill in order to make sure that the guilty die ? Something to think about.

Speedier trials would take away our right to appeal in light of new evidence etc. because once executed you can no longer appeal.

Another issue surrounding lethal injection in particular is the involvement of medical personnel. Though doctors and nurses are presumably the most qualified to administer drugs to an inmate, medical ethics preclude doctors from participating in executions. The American Medical Association issued a statement prohibiting physician involvement in capital punishment, saying it is contrary to the Hippocratic Oath and would erode the public's trust in medical professionals. The American Nurses Association and the American Society of Anesthesiologists have both adopted similar positions. The result is that lethal injections are too often carried out by inexperienced technicians and orderlies, increasing the possibility of mistakes that can cause painful or drawn out executions.

For these reasons CP cant be justified.


Yes mistakes have been made in the past, horrible, irreversible mistakes. But that is why I argue that the DP should be kept legal, but not used as often as it has been. Some states already seem to use this idea, as some states have it as a legal form of punishment, but scarcely use it. [1] Montana for example, has executed just 3 people since 1976, with currently just 2 on death row. You can attribute it to lower population, but I will also include Indiana. With currently about 6,500,000 citizens, Indiana has executed just 20 since 1976, with 14 on death row. My point is, that states should save the DP for the worst crimes, and sentence others to life in prison with no parole, or whatever seems necessary.

My opponent makes a good point. Shorter appeals make it impossible to bring forth new evidence. However, as I've said, unless it is a horrendous crime in which the suspect is undoubtedly guilty, then the DP shouldn't be handed out.

And it is true that no doctors are required to be present for the execution. Neither is a nurse. I don't see this as a problem, however. First off, all the knowledge you really need for a lethal injection is the knowledge of starting an I.V., and injecting the lethal dose. And even if it is slightly painful, or even pretty painful for the inmate, I don't really care. I'm all for human rights, but this is the least you deserve in my opinion. In some cases, where the deaths of victims are drawn out by the criminals, I see no reason to pity them now. We could always go back to hanging people like we used to. Cheaper than lethal injections as well as quicker. What I mean to say is, I have a hard time pitying criminals after some of the things they have done. I don't mean for this idea to hijack the debate, however.

But in the end, I see no reason to completely outlaw the DP, just make it less common, and reserved for the worst of criminals, who are undoubtedly guilty.

Debate Round No. 4


Thx again to my opponent and our audience

My argument still stands as long as man is involved an innocent person can be executed and for that fact alone CP has to be abolished. As I stated before if 25 guilty men are not executed to save 1 innocent man from execution we can live with that. To sum it up you can't fight murder with murder .

Cause of death is "homicide" on the death certificates of those the state killed. CP is a act of murder. A barbaric act of Murder carried out in a supposedly clinical fashion at the time of the State Governors choosing. When the death penalty is administered by systems and Governments that are sometimes corrupt and/ or contain racism, discriminate against the poor, the mentally ill, religious minorities, women and even children it cannot be allowed to continue and must be abolished.

Murder is wrong and that is what CP is it is state sanctioned murder

Vote CON I have shown an innocent person can and sometimes are executed I can not see anyway around this fact and for that reason we abolish CP.


While my opponent may have a valid point, what I am suggesting is that it be kept as a legal form of punishment, saved for those convicted of terrible crimes, guilty beyond doubt. Meaning tied into the crime, as the suspect, by ways of witness or DNA (blood, hair, semen, fingerprints, etc). I believe that the state of our legal system and system of investigations now, would make it impossible to convict the wrong person, and have him sentenced to death. It won't happen. It has, but I don't believe it will any longer.

So I conclude that the DP should be kept legal as a form of punishment, because 1( Some criminals shouldn't be living. 2(There is no chance that a person will be wrongly put to death any longer, because of our advanced forensic investigation system, and our legal system will make sure that it doesn't happen any more. It is being fazed out already, being saved for the worst of criminals. So I see no reason as to why it should be made illegal.

I would like to thank my opponent for arguing this topic. I certainly enjoyed it.
Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by IveGotUrOuts 6 years ago
@16kadams What about the fact might kill an innocent person.
Posted by thett3 6 years ago

"...studies show it saves more lives then it ends." "I am against the DP because it is costly."

Money > People? Lmao
Posted by 16kadams 6 years ago
Those innocent arguments are overall false. it has a 99% accuracy ratio, and studies show it saves more lives then it ends.

I am against the DP because it is costly.
Posted by martianshark 6 years ago
I agree with con for the most part, but most murders are actually planned out. People who kill others in a fit of rage are usually charged with manslaughter.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:02 
Reasons for voting decision: The arguments came down, both sides got worse round per round, but I think con total broke down last round, dropping many needed points. But as both broke down I do not think it would be ethical to vote on arguments, I may come back and do so later though. But I am going based on sources, CON used biased sources (death is a andto DP site), and the DPIC is a liberal bias, hence my vote. I may try args later, but I saw no winner there here.