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The Contender
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The Death Penalty should be abolished

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It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/27/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 864 times Debate No: 78183
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (0)




This challenge is issued to The_American_Sniper.

The debate will be structured in the following manner.

1st round acceptance
2nd round arguments
3rd round rebutalls
4th round defense.

Definitions - From Oxford Dictionaries

Death Penalty - the punishment of execution, administered to someone legally convicted of a capital crime.

Abolish - formally put an end to (a system, practice, or institution):

Life Imprisonment - a punishment in which somebody convicted of a crime must remain in prison for the rest of his or her life, or for a very lengthy period.


I accept this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Contention 1 – Cost

The average cost of defending a trial in a federal death case is $620,932, this costs around 8 times more than a trial in which the death penalty is not sought [1.] A study [2] out of Seattle University found that each death penalty case costs an average of $1 million more than a similar case where the death penalty was no pursued. The figures come out to $3.07 million in a case pursuing the death penalty, compared to $2.01 million, for a similar case, but in which the death penalty was not sought. This study only examined cases in Washington, that that occurred since 1997. Using only these cases, the gross bill to taxpayers for the death penalty is around $120 million. Since the reinstatement of Washington's death penalty, it has carried out 5 executions, this implies a cost of around $24 million per execution. A recent study out of Nevada [3] revealed that murder cases which seek the death penalty can cost nearly twice as much as those with a lesser punishment. In a murder case where the death penalty is not sought, the average cost to the public is $775,000. And in Kansas, a study[4] coming from the Kansas Judicial Council examined 34 potential death penalty cases from 2004 - 2011, the study found that defending a death penalty case costs about 4 times as much as defending a similar case where the death penalty is not sought. These are three studies from different states, which agree that death penalty cases cost the public and the government much more money than non-death penalty cases. Donald McCartin, a judge from Orange County, stated that “it’s 10 times more expensive” to kill an inmate than to keep them alive. This is a judge who has sentenced nine people to death row [10.]

It’s also worth noting that prisoners on generally spend 20 years on death row before their execution, due to mandatory appeals. This wait time has an estimated annual cost of $137,102 [13.] Estimated cost to taxpayers during this period could come up to a total of $2,742,040. This is on top of the cost of the case itself.

Let’s compare this cost to life imprisonment. Please note this is a comparison of the cost of one death penalty case, which comes out to the following figures. $3.07 million dollars in the study out of Seattle University. In Washington, the gross bill for 5 executions since 1997 has been $120 million. Which comes out to $24 million per execution.

Now, according to statistics provided by the office of California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst, the current cost of keeping one inmate in state prison is $47,102 per year [13.] The Department of Corrections places the number at $44,563 [13.] Let’s assume an inmate was sentenced to life without parole when they were 30 years old. We’ll give them an optimistic age of death at the age of 80. This is 50 years in prison.

44,563*50 = 2,228,150. So this is 2.2 million. This cost is already $1 million less than the average cost of a death penalty case according to the Seattle University study.

*The graph is from the Kansas study.*

Contention 2 – Errors

This was the reason that I first started to oppose the death penalty, before I was aware of its other shortcomings. In the USA, there have been 329 post-conviction exonerations in the history of the nation [7.] Some of these people have been held on death row since the 80's. This here, proves that the justice system is capable of making mistakes, and is not foolproof. Also, the death penalty information centre released a list [8] of 10 executed inmates, whose cases have been reviewed, and they found enough evidence to possibly prove their innocence. But of course, most courts will not review cases in which the defendant has already been killed. In the US, there have been around 16 wrongful convictions of people which resulted in executions, then posthumously, they were declared innocent [9.] So, this shows that the justice system in America is not foolproof, and has made many mistakes in the past.

Contention 3 – Ineffective at Reducing Crime

First off, let’s compare two states. Texas and Vermont. Vermont abolished the death penalty in 1965, and the last time a prisoner was executed there was in 1954 [11.] Even without the death penalty, Vermont is one of the safest states in America, with a rate of 1.6 murders per 100,000 people in 2013 [12.] Compare this to Texas, which has the highest amount of executions performed, and a crime rate of 4.3 murders per 100,000 people in 2013 [12.] Interestingly enough, Vermont [a state with no death penalty,] has a lower crime rate than the following states where the death penalty has not been abolished [12.] [All data from 2013]

Please note that I could make the same comparison with Iowa, a state that has a lower crime rate than Vermont [1.4,] and also abolished the death penalty.

  • Ohio [3.9]
  • Oklahoma [5.1]
  • Pennsylvania [4.7]
  • South Carolina [6.2]
  • South Dakota [2.4]
  • Tennessee [5.0]
  • Virginia [3.8]
  • Mississippi [6.1]
  • Louisiana [10.8]

A 2009 survey of leading criminologists showed that over 88% of them say that the death penalty is NOT a deterrent to murder [5.] In fact, murder rates in states without the death penalty has remained lower than states with the death penalty for the last 25 years.

A study also compared the US to 25 other developed countries, and it showed that the US has the highest rates of childhood homicide in the developed world. Almost all the other countries that were look at had abolished the death penalty [6.] So it is clear, the death penalty does not deter crime.

That's all for this round. I'll hand it over to my opponent now. I'd like to remind that this round is only for opening arguments, please save rebuttals for round 3.




Due to certain issues, my opponent and I have agreed to tie this debate. Not voting please.
Debate Round No. 2


Debate Round No. 3


Yup, tie.

Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Midnight1131 3 years ago
Well, this whole maintenance thing messed up my argument. Both of the graphs seem to have disappeared. I will post them in the next round.
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