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Resolved: The death penalty should be abolished.

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ColeTrainColeTrain (PRO)

Though I would have preferred my opponent comment prior to accepting, I'm excited about this debate, and extend my greatest regards and wishes to my opponent for an intellectually stimulating and enjoyable debate. Without further ado, let's begin.

Death Penalty: “Execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court of law of a criminal offense. Capital punishment should be distinguished from extrajudicial executions carried out without due process of law. The term death penalty is sometimes used interchangeably with capital punishment, though imposition of the penalty is not always followed by execution (even when it is upheld on appeal), because of the possibility of commutation to life imprisonment.” [1]

Essentially, the death penalty and capital punishment are the synonymous, and I will use them interchangeably throughout this debate.

What Crimes Result in the Death Penalty?
“The capital offenses include espionage, treason, and death resulting from aircraft hijacking. However, they mostly consist of various forms of murder such as murder committed during a drug-related drive-by shooting, murder during a kidnapping, murder for hire, and genocide.” [3]

Allow me to move to the crux of the round.

Morality Argument:
The first and foremost problem with is the morality of such an issue. Though lawmakers and politicians push for such a system, claiming it gives justice to the criminals, it simply isn’t moral. The ideology behind the death penalty, and the mindset that is required to sentence and carry out the death penalty creates deadly cyclical killing. The simple reality is that the advocates for the death penalty assume that killers must be killed. But that formula is flawed. Allow me to demonstrate.
A. All who kill must be killed
B.a killed b
C.x must now kill a to preserve the ideology.

From there, y has the obligation to kill x, z must kill y, et cetera. This deadly cycle (literally) goes against any moral groundings of killings, and the laws of our land. If murders must be punished for killing, executioners must be punished for killing. If continuing with this problematic strategy, a never-ending cycle of murder will ensue, causing harm not only to the original family affected by murder, but continuing along the chain. If murder is a crime (which it is) the death penalty goes against predetermined laws; thus, leaving of the death penalty in action causes hypocrisy and contradiction of the law. Moreover, “Allowing our government to kill citizens compromises the deepest moral values upon which this country was conceived: the inviolable dignity of human persons.” [9]

Inhumanity Argument:
Along with being simply immorality, the death penalty is inhumane. Besides the fact of looming death, capital punishment is often painful for victims, as there are multiple forms of the death penalty. Even though many would argue that lethal injection is the best and least painful form of capital punishment, a study shows criminals can and have been conscious throughout their death. This study comes from the British Journal, The Lancet, where they explain, “43 percent had concentrations of anesthetic in their blood — as measured by medical examiners during autopsies — that would indicate consciousness rather than sedation during an execution.” [4] Dr. Leonidas Koniaris, chairman of surgical oncology at the University of Miami asks us the decisive question, “As a society we need to step back and ask whether we want to torture these people or not.” The answer is that we SHOULDN’T torture these people.

“Worthy” Crime Argument:
Studies have shown that the DP has deviated from the previous standards of only SPECIFIC crimes resulting in capital punishment. As of only last year, governments are using the death penalty to punish to combat crime and terrorism as well. A study done by Amnesty International documents, “An alarming number of countries used the death penalty to tackle real or perceived threats to state security linked to terrorism, crime or internal instability in 2014.” [5] What we see is that these penalties are being given for reasons that deviate from the primary and regulated reasons.

These crimes can also give capital punishment to minors, such as George Junius Stinney Jr., who was 14 when he was executed. “Stinney, the youngest person to receive the death penalty in the last 100 years, was executed on June 16, 1944. At five feet one inch and only 95 pounds, the straps of the electric chair did not fit the boy. His feet could not touch the floor. As he was hit with the first 2,400-volt surge of electricity, the mask covering his face slipped off, ‘revealing his wide-open, tearful eyes and saliva coming from his mouth.’” [6] The article further explains that Stinney was never actually guilty of the crime with which he was charged.

Innocence Argument:
We see cases where individuals are not guilty of the crime they supposedly committed, and in serious cases, we see executions when the “criminal” is guilty. In fact, a study from the University of Michigan Law school shows, “a conservative estimate of the proportion of erroneous convictions of defendants sentenced to death in the United States from 1973 through 2004, [is] 4.1%.” [7] Because capital punishment is death, errors are vital, and very important. Justice systems cannot accurately be described as just when they convict and murder innocent individuals. Thus, without conclusive evidence, governments execute innocent individuals and are not just.

Deterrence Argument:
Though it is a common argument, little credible evidence even suggests that capital punishment deters crime. In fact, the evidence points the other way. In a study published by John J. Donohue and Justin Wolfers, they back up the claim that the death penalty doesn’t deter crime. “Sociologist Thorsten Sellin’s careful comparisons of the evolution of homicide rates in contiguous states from 1920 to 1963 led to doubts about the existence of a deterrent effect caused by the imposition of the death penalty… the National Academy of Sciences to issue a 1978 report which argued that the existing evidence in support of a deterrent effect of capital punishment was unpersuasive… We find that the existing evidence for deterrence is surprisingly fragile.” [8] In reality, deterrence is not a result of capital punishment, and the evidence that supports it is not credible. In fact, “a University of Florida researcher’s new study shows 90 percent of the nation’s top criminologists say killing people to deter violent crime is an immense waste of time and money.” [2]

The death penalty costs too much. "A study found that the death penalty costs North Carolina $2.16 million per execution over the costs of a non-death penalty murder case with a sentence of imprisonment for life (Cook & Slawson. 1993). On a national basis, these figures translate to an extra cost of over $700 million dollars spent since 1976 on the death penalty." [10] The cost of the death penalty is far too much when measured against the cost of life in prison. [11]

These reasons explicitly explain why the death penalty should be abolished.


[1] http://www.britannica.com...

[2] http://news.ufl.edu...

[3] http://deathpenalty.procon.org...

[4] http://www.chron.com...

[5] https://www.amnesty.org...

[6] http://www.rawstory.com...

[7] http://www.pnas.org...

[8] http://users.nber.org...(SLR).pdf

[9] Prejean, Helen. "Executions Are Too Costly--Morally" Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States. 1993. Rpt. In Current Issues and Enduring Questions. Ed. Sylvan Barnet and Hugo Bedau. Boston: Bedford St. Martin's, 2002. 584.

[10] http://www.uvm.edu/~vlrs/doc/deathpenalty.htm

[11] http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2014/05/01/considering-the-death-penalty-your-tax-dollars-at-work/

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2015-08-27 14:24:47
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Posted 2015-08-26 14:57:32
Rules, automatic blacklist.
Posted 2015-08-26 13:01:28
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Greetings! This is a debate about the death penalty. Comment to express interest, don't automatically accept.

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Round 2: Presentation of Arguments (Pro) and Arguments and Rebuttals (Con)
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