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The death penalty should be abolished

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/23/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,421 times Debate No: 70580
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




Hi, my name is Billy, and I will be arguing for the fact that the death penalty is ineffective, thus banning it. Good luck to my opponent. For more information, go to this link:

First of all, I know that most of you people reading this know the death penalty, but I'll explain it anyway in case there's some person that doesn't. Capital punishment, AKA the death penalty, execution, and a lot more names, is when a person is killed for their crimes. There are many ways this is done, such as lethal injection, hanging, and firing squad (shooting to death). The practice is widely debated around the world, and I'll debate against capital punishment.

I also have to show how you get executed. When you are sentenced to death, you wait on the death row, a prison where you wait to be executed. It usually takes years to wait to be executed.

Reason #1 to oppose the death penalty: The common causes of wrongful convictions of death in the United States is eyewitness errors, government misconduct, junk science, snitch testimony, and false confessions, but occasionally a person is wrongfully executed. Executing the innocent is rare but immorally evil. Executing one that is innocent is a risk that we cannot take. When someone is sentenced to death and released when found innocent, the gap between the two events is an average of 10.1 YEARS. It's 10 years only, but it can be dreadful. Let's say you're on the death row, waiting to be executed for years. However, they find you innocent, and you've been waiting years to have them find that out. With those years you could have earned good wages and gotten a good life. After all, picture this; you execute someone, but then evidence shows that the man you executed was innocent. What would you say to his newly-made widow and children if he has one? Give them money in return? This is one of the biggest reasons why the death penalty is ought to be abolished. To clarify, yes, on death row, a wrongfully convicted person can be released, but once he or she is executed, the mistake is irreversible. With life in prison, a wrongfully convicted person can be released as long as he or she is still alive.
For facts about exonerations in the United States, go here:

Reason #2: The death penalty practice is way more expensive than life without parole, because of the requirements of the United States Constitution. This process is needed to limit wrongful executions, but not fully eliminate it. Look, because this punishment is irreversible, you are forced to pay more for security.

A Californian study in 2011 supports the following statements:
1. California has spent more than 4 billion dollars on capital punishment since 1978 (About 300 million dollars EACH for the 13 people convicted). Yes, 4 billion is nothing compared to America's enormous economy, but hey, it's something!
2. California spends an additional 184 million dollars on capital trials, enhanced security in the death row, and legal representation.
3. The study predicts that the cost in California will reach 9 billion dollars by 2030.

For more info about Reason #2, go here:

As usual, anybody may accept this challenge (as long as you support the death penalty) and again, good luck to my opponent.


I studied Criminal Justice in school and among the things I learned is that our Criminal Justice system operates on the philosophy that a guilty person going free is better than an innocent person being locked up. I don't think anyone would argue that executing an innocent person is not so good. According to the Innocence project there have been 150 people exonerated from death row in the US since 1973 when capital punishment was reinstated. of those 150 people, 20 were proven to be innocent through DNA.

No system is perfect but I think these numbers say that ours is doing a serviceable job. For those few innocent people it is truly unfortunate, however 20 proven innocents in 42 years is not a reason to ban capital punishment any more than innocent members of the general prison populace is reason to shut down our prison system.

Death penalty cases are generally more expensive because of the cost of purchasing drugs used in lethal injections as well as the many appeals guaranteed by individual state laws. Appeals are guaranteed by many states and contribute to the low rate of wrongful executions. The drug pentobarbital can cost nearly $1,300 per execution and gives the prisoner a slow and painless death as required by federal law. Lethal injections were a large part of reinstating the death penalty as it ensured a quick humane as oppose to the electric chair or hanging.

Between all the required appeals, defense costs and cost to procure the required drugs costs of the death penalty is and should be higher. The fact that it does cost more has to do with the way in which capital punishment is carried out and has nothing to do with whether we should or should not implement the death penalty itself.

You cannot cure a murderer or a serial killer. These individuals will not change and if sentenced to life within the prison population will very likely kill again. If a sociopathic killer with no regard for human life doesn't deserve to die, how do you feel about the inmates in for lesser crimes who are their potential victims?
Debate Round No. 1


Hi Connor. Thanks for accepting the challenge, and let's have some fun.

As I read your statement "No system is perfect, but I think these numbers say that ours is doing a serviceable job.". Also, you said the 20 exonerations in 42 years is not worthy of cancelling the death penalty. However, as this is legitimately true, the wrongfully executed victim's widow, children, etc. may find it unfair that another victim's relatives was spared, but the government fell into the irreversible trap that hurt a newly-made widow.

Nowadays, lethal injections are widespread in the United States, but the execution materials are made by doctors. Wait! Doctors are supposed to support and help people get a well-being, and now they're making materials to kill people? See the problem with lethal injections, which you explained in your argument? It has doctors do the opposite of what they're paid to do. Bad reputations can soar at any moment, especially after protests.

Now, I'll list two more main reasons why I oppose the death penalty:

Reason #3: Obviously, when one of your relatives die, or even be separated, it can be depressing. Yes, when one of your relatives has life without parole, it is depressing also, but death to that relative can be even more sad. The depressed, mourning widow and children of an executed criminal doesn't deserve this time of hardship and mourning. In fact, in this link: there was an old lady whose son was murdered, but she protested that his assassin would not be punished by death. Killing in return does not repair the agonizing pain inflicted by losing a loved one. Even criminals receive agony they don't necessarily deserve. Executing one means they are in the headlines. Most murderers deserve to be put in prison and left alone by the civilians.
More info is here:

Reason #4: Many nations abolished the death penalty, and retaining the practice can damage global reputation and approval. Some extremely controversial countries in the world, such as Russia, has abolished the practice (This is my opinion about the controversy because of the Ukrainian crisis, don't mean to be racist). The US keeping of the death penalty is a big excuse those anti-Americans can jump up on, thus damaging America's global approval rating and reputation. Even worse, botched executions and executing innocent lives can worsen reputations even more. Many consider the death penalty as "cruel or unusual punishment" which America's Constitution's Eighth Amendment forbids, leading to some foreigners realizing hypocrisy in our government. This is something that we totally don't want.

OK. This is my second round of this debate, there are three more to come, and I will see you next time.


First I must apologize for an error I made in my first argument. "The drug pentobarbital ...slow and painless death as required by federal law" should have read "quick" and painless. I also forgot to cite a source so here they are.

Now back to our regularly scheduled debate.

The drugs come from corporations like Lundbeck and are made by pharmaceutical scientists not medical doctors. Furthermore who makes the drug is irrelevant to whether or not the act of putting someone to death is acceptable.

You agree that the few unfortunate families of the wrongfully accused do not justify banning the death penalty. when you state "the wrongfully executed victim's widow, children, etc. may find it unfair that another victim's relatives was spared" you are assuming those families had some sort of evidence that their family member was innocent. If there was some sort of concrete proof to his/her innocence they likely would not have been executed. Of course as I said no system is perfect but, as you admit to agreeing to, those few instances do not justify removing the whole system.

Your fourth point may be your most valid thus far as world diplomacy can be a tricky and fragile business. However this argument is an example of the "argumentum ad populum" fallacy (invalid argumentative tactic). In other words, millions of people share my opinion so it must be the correct one. Other countries believing a certain way does not automatically mean it is right. If every other nation outlawed coca cola would you be telling me we must ban coca cola? If all the other countries jumped off a bridge would you?

You did not respond to it but I will bring it up once more. The people that typically go on death row are murderers, serial killers and sociopaths with no other drive than to hurt and kill other people. as long as they are alive they are a danger to fellow inmates and prison staff/ guards.
Debate Round No. 2


billnumerous forfeited this round.


Full Definition
1 a :the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments

People getting what they deserve, good, bad or indifferent is justice. Justice is a cold concept with no regard for peoples feelings. If you kill another person or persons, you deserve to have your life taken. That is the only possible equal punishment. One could even argue that for TRUE justice to be served you should die in the same gruesome manner as your victim. But that is for another day. I realize that this is a very cold hearted black and white way of looking at it but that is what justice is by definition.

As an aside, I would prefer not to wait a week for the voting, if you intend to forfeit the rest of the debate please just type forfeit and submit. I would prefer the back and forth discussion that I signed up for however.
Debate Round No. 3


Sorry for my absence last time. Now I'm back on track.

I have to apologize for your misunderstanding about my fourth reason to oppose the death penalty. Imposing extreme forms of punishment, including death, but not necessarily life without parole, can damage diplomatic relations and global reputation.

One thing that I didn't bring up is that when someone is arrested, they are handcuffed and disarmed, giving the disability to shoot policemen. If they are found guilty and sent to prison for life, they have nothing to use as a weapon.

Here are my next two reasons why I oppose the death penalty:

Reason #5: Most defendants cannot afford an attorney and the government must appoint it, but the attorney probably is overworked, underpaid, tired, and less effective than usual. According to a study by the Chicago Tribune, 12% of those sentenced to death in 1976-1999 had an attorney that was later arrested or suspended. It isn't fair to have a mediocre attorney when the prosecutor has a superior and much better attorney. Even if we wanted to fix this, America may have to go through series of reform, causing nationwide protests, or even worse, riots. The best thing to do is to rid the practice all along.

Reason #6: One common misconception is that the death penalty deters homicide rate. Studies have constantly failed to support and prove this. Some studies actually show that states with the death penalty have higher murder rates than states without. In 1996, states with the death penalty's average is 144% of the states without the death penalty. So instead of deterring crime because of such a horrendous punishment, it can actually increase murder rates and cause problems.
Source of 1996 statement:

The majority of criminologists (88%) doesn't believe the death penalty successfully deters crime, which it doesn't. Since the death penalty is such a harsh punishment, many people will believe murderers would back off because they are in the face of death. However, studies have failed to prove that.

With lethal injections being badly botched, quick death can lead to torturing to death. The United States is currently testing unapproved execution drugs, which sometimes fails. It can take hours for a criminal to die while let's say, gasping for breath. That is most likely considered torturing to death and in America, the majority of Americans consider that to be "cruel and unusual punishment", which their Eighth Amendment to the Constitution forbids.


"One thing that I didn't bring up is that when someone is arrested, they are handcuffed and disarmed, giving the disability to shoot policemen. If they are found guilty and sent to prison for life, they have nothing to use as a weapon."

Are you implying that this makes them less of a danger to the prison population? Do you know what a shiv is?

The public defender issue is an extremely valid one however that is an issue with the public defender system and the criminal justice system as a whole. These same overworked underpaid attorneys are also working lesser criminal cases in every aspect of the criminal justice system. Abolishing the death penalty would not solve this issue. Do we just rid the criminal justice system all together?

The issue of public defenders is a big one and you may consider doing a separate debate on it as you have some excellent points about it.

In response to your statement "instead of deterring crime because of such a horrendous punishment, it can actually increase murder rates...". No punishment is going to fully prevent crime. Just like under age laws and the threat of juvy aren't keeping teenagers from drinking and smoking (present company excluded I hope).

In 1972 the year the supreme court suspended capital punishment the number of murders nation wide was at 18,670.
That number jumped up to 19,640 in '73,
20,710 in '74 and
20,510 in '75.
In 1976 when the death penalty was reinstated that number fell back down to 18,780.
" can actually increase murder rates...". I do not assert that these numbers are proof of the death penalty is a perfect deterrent. They do however tell me that the death penalty doesn't lead to MORE murder.

I just hit on the supreme court's suspending and reinstating of the death penalty. When the supreme court ruled to suspend capital punishment it was done so in response to Furman v Georgia on the grounds that the means (not the act of putting criminals to death itself) was inhumane and violated the eighth amendment. which you hit on previously. The supreme court has never found the death penalty itself to be unconstitutional. In fact the supreme court has made many rulings since 1976 to ensure protection of eighth amendment rights of those on death row. The 1976 Gregg v Georgia decision gave way to the multi part system of sentencing in capital punishment cases where a jury decides guilt and then another determines sentencing (whether to impose death penalty in a murder case). This decision also reinstated the death penalty. Coker v Georgia (1977) and Kenneddy v Louisiana (2008) essentially made it to wherew only those convicted of murder (for the most part) could be put to death. More recently, Atkins v Virginia (2002) along with Roper v Simmons (2005) held that only mentally competent adults could face the death penalty. While our Supreme Court has made many rulings to attempt to make the death penalty as humane as possible, never has the highest court in the land found it to be unlawful or unconstitutional.

Many of the issues you have brought up, while extremely good points, are more of an issue with the Criminal justice system as a whole or that of cruel and unusual punishment. I hope you engage in more debates and projects around this topic because the system is in desperate need of reform.

We have had issues in this country with some of the drugs we have been using. To me, this says we need to find a new method of execution to ensure their eighth amendment rights are protected. A single bullet to the back of the head would be quick, painless and cost effective (I believe you raised the issue of money earlier) albeit a bit messier. Not saying that is the best alternative. As long as the prisoner does not suffer there is no legal or constitutional standing to abolish the death penalty. The Supreme Court has supported this by it's decisions to reinstate the death penalty and to modify the way it is carried out.
Debate Round No. 4


billnumerous forfeited this round.



Well in closing,
As I have shown, there is no constitutional grounds to permanently ban the death penalty. The only times the death penalty has been suspended at the federal level it has been to work out the method to ensure the prisoner is not suffering and that all of their rights of habeas corpus are kept. Our criminal justice system makes every attempt to reform criminals. Some criminals are too far gone. In order for justice to be served, crimes must be met with equal punishment. The only equal punishment for depriving another human being of their life is for the transgressors to have their life taken.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by billnumerous 3 years ago
Before anybody asks about "4 billion dollars is nothing compared to America's enormous economy", According to the UN, America's GDP (nominal) in 2013 is about 16.77 TRILLION dollars, which is by far the largest in the world.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro ff many times, so conduct to Con.