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That prisoners should be allowed to choose death over a life sentence

10 points
13 points
BifurcationsBifurcations (PRO)
I think a useful way to frame this debate is to argue in terms of US states that already allow the death penalty.

The mechanism I propose for this is that after all appeals have been exhausted or waived by the individual then it is possible to offer death. This would be allowed when it is determined that the individual is fully aware of the consequences of their decision and are aware enough to make the decision. Help for things like depression should be offered first. That individual will then be entered into Death row and the usual proceedings would then apply.

I will make make a single argument in this round to open my case.

"Lifers" tend to be serious problems for prison staff because every freedom has been taken from them and their is no way t regain it. This means the staff have limited bargaining power in working with the individual. This lack of communication and respect means that many lifers seek to regain some sort of control in other ways. They do this by organising, participating and running gangs within prisons. This gives them they ability to have some control over their environment and life and still allows them to engage in the crimes that others have done or will do when released. Gangs cause severe problems for the prison service making it much harder to keep control and making rehabilitation seriously difficult. This is due to the fact that staff have to try and earn respect and open communications with an individual who is within the influence of a gang and either fears for their safety or respects the gang more. A lack of rehabilitation and dependency on gangs means that people are more likely to commit crimes after they have been released. I am not trying to claim that we can solve all gang issues within prisons but that we can severely disrupt that process. 

Here's how this would work. In many cases where people have exhausted their appeals I believe they would ask for the option of death (and at least some take this already through suicide) because to spend an untold number of years in prison is certainly torture. This means that their is a channel of dialogue opened by the prisoner and they would be forced then to talk with medical staff and rehabilitative staff about their problems and their options. This is something that currently does not happen because the prisoner is already biased against the system that is detaining them and after all appeals are exhausted they feel their is no other hope. With this dialogue there is some hope of gaining respect and getting the prisoner to be able to actually feel remorse for the crime they have committed. This is important to many victims who feel it is only then that the punishment is worth something allowing them to have closure. This communication and chance for rehabilitation to be effective even for lifers means that the prisoner will have some hope of feeling in control and will be less likely persuaded to join a gang in the first place. 

Lifers tend to make gang leaders because they are constantly there to assert dominance and control. Making less lifers less likely to become gang leaders means the long term power of gangs can be disrupted. This allows prison staff to more effectively dismantle gangs if there is less long term leaders.

They may take the option of death and be allowed that opportunity which is acceptable as the judge has deemed the crimes so terrible the person is not safe to ever be released back to society anyway. 

To make prisons safer and more manageable we should allow prisoners serving a life sentence to choose death instead.

Return To Top | Posted:
2016-03-23 11:17:17
| Speak Round
IncorrigiblePerspectiveIncorrigiblePerspective (CON)
Thank you to Bifurcations for engaging in this debate. Unfortunately, I think he has chosen a position which is completely untenable, given that the proposition is fatally flawed before we even begin. Normally when debating issues surrounding the death penalty, is the issues are fairly well established. Most people have an opinion and debates are often focussed on the smaller, moot points in order to sway the judgement one way or another. I will attempt to show that this proposition would satisfy neither side of a traditional debate; liberal nor conservative, collectivist nor reformist. 

I will first offer a rebuttal of my opponents opening remarks, after which I will outline my central concerns relating to this proposition.


Unfortunately my opponent has confused an already hazy subject with incongruent comparisons and unsubstantiated conjecture. In his very first line he draws a parallel with US states that already allow the death penalty, when this is really completely irrelevant. If something is a penalty, it can't also be an individual choice. The death penalty isn't optional or refutable, so where lies any comparison with the debate at hand? My opponent perhaps recognises that this is an erroneous example as he makes no further mention of the death penalty in individual States.

The key gist of his entire opening statement focusses on the idea that 'lifers' are more likely to be disruptive, reoffend and in general make life difficult. He also alleges that lifers are likely to be in prison gangs. However, he offers no proof of any of this, nor any citations, and as far as I can tell is basing this entirely on the idea that a life sentence without the possibility of parole does not incentivise good behaviour. 
In the interest of expedience, I won't highlight every false assertion he makes, but suffice to say the issues raised, in particular relating to re-offending and prison gangs, is far more complicated and faceted than he presented.  One of the eminent authorities on these issues is the think tank Death Penalty Focus:-

"Multiple studies that have been completed since capital punishment was reinstated show that prisoners sentenced to life without parole do not pose any more threat to other prisoners or corrections personnel than do inmates in the general population, and in most cases “lifers” perpetrate fewer crimes in prison than those eligible for parole." - Death Penalty Focus

My opponent also asserts that life imprisonment without the possibility of parole represents torture. By no definition of the word torture can incarceration be described as torture. It is worth mentioning that life imprisonment is a violation of the Human Rights Act, which is why in Europe even mass murderers cannot be jailed for life indefinitely, but then so too is the death penalty, so that doesn't make things any better.

Arguments against the proposal

There are so many to list here I will spare the reader the reams of arguments that I could post at this point. To try and be concise, my main arguments are essentially  as follows:

1. Life imprisonment is supposed to be just that! For those who have committed the most heinous of crimes, it is surely right that we should punish them accordingly? The central argument for many debates relating to the very merits of the death penalty focus on the prevention of further crimes as a result of the deterrence of a strict sentence. Surely, to the families of victims of murder, allowing the prisoner to 'opt out' of his or her sentence with a lethal injection? Society needs to be careful not to completely remove any semblance of punishment, nor to remove the deterrence it provides.
2. Self-determined executions create a myriad of legal complications. 
3. It would set Constitutional precedent. Effectively, the proposition calls for state-approved suicide. 
4. It would be expensive. Executing somebody can costs hundreds of thousands...

Return To Top | Posted:
2016-03-24 02:18:22
| Speak Round
Bifurcations: Why would a state like Texas be concerned with additional costs when they already allow the death penalty?
IncorrigiblePerspective: Who would foot the bill if the prisoner changed his mind the day before the execution? Would the state of Texas be charged for the provision of an attorney in order to adhere to the legal requirement that every prisoner be provided with one when changing the status of his/her imprisonment?
Bifurcations: You did not provide and answer to my question. To answer yours; as I laid out in my mechanism the normal rules of a death row prisoner would apply once they have accepted that punishment.
IncorrigiblePerspective: I did answer your question... You asked about Texas and I answered with a legitimate counter-question about financing.
Bifurcations: I don't follow the relevance but fine. Do you have another question or a response to the answer I provided?
Bifurcations: After reading this again I am still confused. For my own benefit I will ask will my original question in a different away and maybe you can help me out with a new answer.
Bifurcations: Basically the "additional costs" and legal l issues etc that you mention don't exist for states that already allow the death penalty (where this debate was framed) because that system already exists. Everything that you mentioned is covered by the status quo legal system, as i understand it. So can you explain what "additional legal issues and costs" would be placed on a state like Texas under this mechanism?
Bifurcations: Can you provide a link for the "legal requirement that every prisoner be provided with one when changing the status of his/her imprisonment"?
IncorrigiblePerspective: "Everything that you mentioned is covered by the status quo legal system, as i understand it.".... I'm afraid thats the point; it seems you don't understand it. We have a very complex legal system in order to clearly define what is permitted under law. Simply saying 'well the apparatus is already in place to execute somebody' is a hopelessly naive position to take.
IncorrigiblePerspective: Can you tell me why you think this differs from state-assisted suicide?
Bifurcations: First of all that was quite rude and it was a personal attack rather than a response to the two questions I asked. I would still like a clear, direct and calm response to those questions. Yes, the law is complex, however there are states which allow the death penalty and have procedures to enact that punishment. The only thing that changes with this debate is that the individual makes a choice between life without parole or the death penalty. This means I find your practical concerns somewhat irrelevant to this discussion.
Bifurcations: As for your question I believe it would be considered a legitimate choice and an acceptable punishment under the law.
IncorrigiblePerspective: My apologies for any offence taken, it was not deliberate on my part. What I meant to refer to what that anyone who has jurisprudence experience will tell you it's a massively complicated issue. Currently in Texas the article 'Health & Safety 166.45-51' explicitly rejects mercy killing, or abetting any form of suicide. This law would at the least need to be amended, if not repealed.
IncorrigiblePerspective: Let me ask you this: Death row inmates currently have the right of appeal right up until the hours before execution. Would a prisoner who had opted for execution over imprisonment be afforded the same right to do so? And if so, what would they be appealing against?
Bifurcations: Thank you for providing an apology and a direct answer. Yes the point of the debate is to repeal acts such as the one you quoted. I am not claiming to be a legal expert that's why I have stayed away from the specific articles however the act of promoting this policy means that I am supporting necessary changes to the law within reason. I'll answer your question next.
Bifurcations: Once the punishment of death is accepted they become ordinary death row prisoners and are subject to the same rights and laws. They can presumably still appeal on the same grounds with the argument that it was not a free choice or one made by a rational mind to make the choice to accept this punishment.
IncorrigiblePerspective: The reason of such debates is indeed to repeal such acts, but actually my line of argument related to an earlier question you asked about why it would cost a state like Texas to introduce this as a practice. Changing laws, especially relating to things at critical as euthanasia, runs to tens of millions of dollars more often than you would believe.
IncorrigiblePerspective: Correction: *as, not at, euthanasia.
IncorrigiblePerspective: A prisoner who has appealed against his own choice of punishment does not have any legal standpoint. Let me tell you there is no legal precedent for this, and it would create enormous problems for the justice department in trying to draft safeguards to protect this procedure from being abused or even made farcical, at tax payers expense.
Bifurcations: Every debate or discussion can be reduced to cost arguments. I am happy to argue that since the policy is being discussed the cost would be deemed worth while if the policy is principally sound. I'll direct yourself and anyone reading to my page for this. Now I will respond to your second post.
IncorrigiblePerspective: I'd like to change tack, if I may, to avoid this becoming solely about the legal issues. What would you say to a grieving family who view a murderer choosing to be put to sleep using lethal injection as a 'cop out'. What if they wish to see the murderer contemplate his crimes in jail?
Bifurcations: Yes there is no legal precedent at the moment that's because it isn't currently a legal option. If I can present a sound argument on why this policy should be passed principally and for other practical issues I believe this trumps any issues the justice department has in making the legality of the policy water tight. I'll respond to your new post now.
Bifurcations: I think this is entirely dependent on the family. Some families may see the death penalty as a cop out however it is likely that that individual will still spend a considerable amount of time in jail and on death row. It is not unheard of for penance to be paid on death row. Also as this is taking place in states where this penalty already exists it is likely to be seen as a harsher punishment than life without parole. There is also the likelihood of the family being relieved that the perpetrator is "out of their life for good".
IncorrigiblePerspective: You say that every debate can be reduced to cost arguments, but that is a completely erroneous statement as you directly asked me a question about why this policy would incur extra cost to a state such as Texas.
Bifurcations: i was asking a direct question about what you considered to be additional concerns as a direct result of policy being implemented. I was unsure if you were referring to general costs of a policy or, what it seemed to me, discussing costs and legal issues that were already part of the status quo for states with the death penalty. I asked the question to clarify that. Sorry if it was asked in a messy way.
IncorrigiblePerspective: I don't understand why anyone would wish to give the worst of the worst criminals a choice regarding their own punishment. For people who have removed all semblance of choice from their victims, it seems almost perverse to offer them an easy way out. What would you see as being the 'pros' for implementing this as a policy?
Bifurcations: I don't consider death an easy way out. I also think that no matter what the crime it is unfair to hand out a punishment because we believe a that individual should suffer. The duty of the law here is primarily to provide protection for the general public in these cases. I outlined one pro in the first round and i agree that I have missed analysis so I have provided this in my draft of the next round which you will then have the opportunity to respond to.
IncorrigiblePerspective: Your consideration that death isn't an easy way out isn't the point. In offering a choice, you are knowingly asking the convict to choose which option he considers least severe. In doing so, you undermine the very notion of sentencing and punishment.
Bifurcations: Yes that's true but you have to provide some analysis about why it is an easy option given that I have provided the reason that under the law in these states the death penalty is considered a harsher punishment than life without parole. People can already choose punishments for example enlist in the military or carry out a prison sentence.
IncorrigiblePerspective: I didn't say that it was an easy option, I said that the fact that they have a choice gives them an easy way out. Often it is the removal of choice that is the hardest thing to accept when incarcerated. And in fact, you're mistaken when you say that 'under the law' some states consider the death penalty to be the harshest penalty; there are numerous factors, not least that of deterrence, that are listed as being reasons for capital execution.
IncorrigiblePerspective: I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say they have a choice between enlisting in the military or prison? Please elaborate. I hope you don't mean non judicial punishment, which is something completely separate?
Bifurcations: No I am not talking about non judicial punishment which as I understand it is: Non-judicial punishment or "NJP" permits commanders to administratively discipline troops without a court-martial. An easier example of what I am talking about is the example of pay a fine or do community service. With this link: http://www.executiveprisonconsultants.com/id59.html, I would direct you and readers to point 5 which shows that there are many ways you can already influence a sentencing. I'll deal with your earlier post now.
Bifurcations: The fact that you consider it an "easy way out" is what i was referring to when I said easy option. Death is the removal of all choice not just most choices so I don't see the relevance of that. Yes, there are many reasons that are argued for the death penalty and one of those is that it is a harsh punishment. The fact that they consider it to have such a high deference factor is indicative of the fact they believe it to be a harsh punishment.
IncorrigiblePerspective: Influencing sentencing in the sense of requesting a certain prison really isn't relevant to the issue at hand here. I'm sure they also get to choose meat or vegetarian in the dinner queue in prison, but thats not really a choice, either. You said there was a choice between enlisting in the military and prison.. can you substantiate those comments please.
IncorrigiblePerspective: Obviously some prisoners would consider the death penalty as an easy way out, or else why would they choose it? Your argument is a contradiction in terms. And in relation to your comments about the harshness (again), let me tell you you wish find no state or federal documents supporting the idea that capital punishment being 'harsher' than a life in prison is a factor in its implementation.
Bifurcations: I cannot find a link that I am happy with for the example of military enlistment so I am happy to consider that a dropped argument. What I am happy to argue though is that the negotiations within court proceedings mean that the defendant is choosing between two likely outcomes and sentences such as going to jail or having community service. It is wrong to try and belittle the idea that sentencing can be influenced because this in and of itself undermines the idea that sentencing is solely in the hands of a judge. I will deal with your second post now.
Bifurcations: In my draft of the next round I have listed in detail reasons for choosing the death penalty and why they are litigate. The idea that anyone considers death to be an easy option is either suggestive of a life that is totally unbearable or a persons that is incapable of making a rational design because they do not understand the consequences of their decision. I have provided an answer to both of thee situations in the mechanism I wrote for round 1. My point about harshness is two fold so I will deal with this in a few posts.
Bifurcations: First of all in terms of a state they determine how much of a deterrence the punish meant will be based on how harsh the punishment seems to be to the populous. You are correct in saying that they would not use the word harsh in a legal document but the consideration of deference which you concede is indicative of that motivation.
Bifurcations: Secondly this is a direct response to your argumentation on the way a family of a victim (or said victim) would feel about the sentencing. A life is still considered a sacred thing (to most people) and this is why most victims etc would consider the penalty of death a greater one (or harsher) to that of life without parole.
IncorrigiblePerspective: The fact that you drop your argument in relation to a previous (false) statement would indicate you're grasping at straws. A defendant may indeed request a certain prison and plead previous good behaviour, but under no definition that i'm aware of could this be considered a 'choice'. Moreover, that is only applicable in lower severity crimes; no capital crime is dealt with in this way. If found guilty of murder, you have absolutely no say in which institution you are sent to. Your argument on this point is tenuous at best.
IncorrigiblePerspective: It seems to me that your arguments are creating something of a paradox... painting yourself into a corner, so to speak. Is capital punishment harsher than life imprisonment, or isn't it? Are are placating victims' families here, or offering convicted murders rights of self-determination? I don't follow your reasoning, but I look forward to hearing you outline details in the next round.
Bifurcations: My analysis was to prove that sentencing is not held solely in the hands of a judge. Even if you do not believe there is an element of choice currently (which I will further detail in a minute) this does not mean that there should never be an element of choice in sentencing and this I will prove in my second round. I am unsure why you consider my arguments paradoxical. I have been arguing throughout that capital punishment is considered a harsher punishment that life imprisonment.
Bifurcations: The only person arguing to placate victims families is yourself and it is s stretch to consider this policy "self determination". You stated that it is impossible under this policy for families to feel like justice has been achieved and I have argued that they can feel justice even if the prisoner chooses a death penalty instead of life sentence. Can you explain which part of this is paradoxical?
Bifurcations: I also deny the accusation that because I am willing to discontinue one example this means I am suddenly "grasping at straws".
IncorrigiblePerspective: We're going round in circles here. I think I will only have my answer when I read your reasoning in the next round as to who benefits from your proposal.
Bifurcations: ok to help me understand how I need to analyse this to give you the best explanation can you give me a reason why you say what I am arguing is paradoxical?
IncorrigiblePerspective: It seems through your reasoning you are both suggesting it relieves a prisoner from the hell of life without parole in jail, but at the same time that the death penalty is the harsher of the two. Who do you think benefits from this proposal?
Bifurcations: I understand your confusion as you are conflating two parts the argument. It can be considered a harsh punishment by the state and by the families and it can be simultaneously seen as a fairer punishment by the convict. It is a matter of perspective and both perspectives exist simultaneously. Now I will answer your question.
Bifurcations: I don't consider this debate to be one of whether there is a need to weigh an active harm or benefit to groups of actors but rather that this is justified on a principled level and is necessary.
IncorrigiblePerspective: We you read the debate as me conflating your argument, and I read it as you contradicting yourself. I'm yet to hear a single reason as to why this proposal would benefit anyone?
Bifurcations: I'm sure anyone judging it will decide for themselves whether it is a conflation or contradiction but I still believe its a conflation of the argument for the reasons I just provided. Like I said I don't believe that is that point of this debate however, as you done previously, I would like to propose the counter question: Why will this proposal harm anyone?
IncorrigiblePerspective: It will cost millions to implement... tax payers millions no less, create further complications in an already complex system, and ultimately benefit nobody.
Bifurcations: The figure of millions is just pulled out the air but fine. The argument is then tax payers and people who right up this law and practice it v the prison staff (both security and rehab) and the justice system as a whole (this is outlined in my case for round two. I will now look at this comparison in detail.
Bifurcations: Firstly it is the job of lawmakers and enforcers to implement these policies no matter how complex. Unless you can explain why this would literally be impossible then this is just their job. Voters have elected their representatives in order to spend their tax money efficiently this means that they have to a certain extent conceded control over that money and have entrusted it with the politicians who would be making this choice. If the policy is completely unpalatable then it would not be enacted but you have given no reason to suggest why that would be.
Bifurcations: Rather it seems likely that this would be viewed as an extension of their current capital punishment policy. This all means that the harms you propose are actually non existent. Now for those it benefits.
Bifurcations: In terms of Prison security staff I started this argument in round 1 and will complete it in round two. In terms of those who are working in rehab this gives lifers more of a reason to talk to them and engage with those services in the first place as I outlined in my mechanism this means they have a greater ability to actually fulfil their job. This actually benefits the justice system as a whole which I will outline in my round 2 case because it requires a large amount of analysis.
Bifurcations: As I outlined this debate is about the necessity and principled justification of this policy rather than a list of who it may or may not benefit in individual and unique cases.
IncorrigiblePerspective: "The argument is then tax payers and people who right up this law and practice it ...."... i'm assuming you mean 'write' rather than right?
IncorrigiblePerspective: Of course it is not 'literally impossible' to achieve a change in the law, but that is a ridiculous yardstick by which to measure the suitability of a proposal. As outlined in my opening statement, I clearly stated some of the glaring obstacles to the proposition. Conversely, you offer not a single positive outcome in support of the motion.
IncorrigiblePerspective: "In terms of Prison security staff I started....." All of this is just conjecture. You have no evidence to support your claims of benefits to the justice system. I discredited your opening statement on the matter in my rebuttal, citing my sources. You have not countered with anything of that can be substantiated.
IncorrigiblePerspective: I think this cross examination has gone on long enough, if my opponent agrees. If we continue much further it will become very tiresome to judge. I will lastly say to my opponent that the burden of proof in this case lies with him. He is supporting a new reform in the system, so it is for him to convince the judges that it is in the best interests of everybody to adopt this proposal, not for me to argue against a 'why shouldn't we' position.It is simply my job to defend the status quo. I hope my opponent considers this as we move into the final round. Thank you.
Bifurcations: Fine by me. I will just conclude by saying that the burden of proof I have to meet as I stated before that this is a necessary and principally sound policy which I will finish proving in my second round.

Return To Top | Speak Round
BifurcationsBifurcations (PRO)

Framing is not an example but rather the context in which this debate happens: states that already allow the death penalty and by extension the Federal system. This means that my opponent's practical concerns have already been accepted as worthwhile by these states. My opponent chose to correct my spelling instead of responding to my analysis on why the harms they claimed happen, do not exist. (CX)


The final missing link in my case is to prove that some lifers are very likely to participate in gang violence. This is seen readily in the Federal system where current gang members are incarcerated under the three strike rule. The only way to remain in control of their life is to continue gang services and recruit new members. The staff engage these individuals because there is no other methods for the prisoner to control their life. This then supports the analysis that I provided in the first round.


When a judge sentences someone to life without parole the punishment is only intended to be limited freedoms and life controlled by the state, however this is not the realistic extent of the punishment. The reality, especially for lifers convicted as juveniles, is one of violence, rape and terror. This is not condoned by the state but neither can it be effectively tackled by the state. The theory of life without parole does not tie up with the reality. This can be balanced in individual cases by allowing the option of accepting death. We can only sentence someone to a knowable punishment. There is no other option with these cases. By giving lifers the option of accepting death they can make a choice about whether they want to live with the threat of violence or being the victim of violence or whether they would rather just die. This is why this policy is necessary to uphold a moral standard of justice.

States recognise it is a terrible act to commit someone to death and they feel it is useful due to the high level of deference it can provide (as conceded by my opponent) which shows they believe it to be a harsh punishment and use it sparingly. My opponent asserts that victims' families want to see the perpetrator being punished for the rest of their life however this is false:

Apologies massively benefit families as this report shows and even those who are on death row are more likely to apologise after engaging with rehab staff. My policy makes this mandatory before the sentence of death is even accepted therefore more families are likely to get the apology that will help them heal. They receive that apology quicker and they can then move on after the death of the perpetrator rather than constantly have that individual as a reminder of the crime that happened. My opponent asserted that my policy would benefit no one but I say it benefits those who we should care about the most: the victims families. 

These are unique view points from different groups that exist simultaneously which is not paradoxical.

What my opponent seems to be advocating is punishment for punishment's sake ("Life imprisonment is supposed to be just that!"). What I am advocating for is an efficient way to achieve a just resolution to a terrible crime. 


I feel it was unfortunate that my opponent did not substantiate their case in the first round as this is only a two round debate, I will not have an opportunity to rebut any substantial new material provided by my opponent next. 

I have shown a principled justification of this policy and proven its practical use under the current framework of accepted death penalty. 

Thank you for reading; vote proposition.

Return To Top | Posted:
2016-03-31 02:20:08
| Speak Round
IncorrigiblePerspectiveIncorrigiblePerspective (CON)
I can agree with my opponent insofar that the short rounds prevent us from really digging into this as a debate. I will offer a short rebuttal to my opponents final statement, although having spent most of the opening round debunking his first set of inaccuracies I don't intend to dwell on them for too long.

My opponent has, in my opinion, largely missed the point of this debate. He could have justifiably drawn attention to aspects of the financial cost saving, or to the prevention of prison suicides, to name but two, but rather he has sought to place the emphasis of his argument on increasingly shaky grounds. 

"Framing is not an example but rather the context in which this debate happens: states that already allow the death penalty and by extension the Federal system".
- This is just a waffly way of saying he's setting the scene to better suit his argument. It's the debating equivalent of photoshopping your pictures to make your thighs seem less flabby.

For anyone who couldn't be bothered/didn't read all of my opponents argument, allow me to summarise...
' Prisoners are more likely to be in gangs in prison, so we should let them choose death. If they are not in a gang, they are probably a being raped or beaten up by the other prisoners. The victim's families may/may not prefer to see the criminal dead/ incarcerated, but i'll focus mainly on the tiny majority that apologise for their crimes and who achieve closure.'

My opponent has totally failed in providing even the vaguest semblance of an argument in support of the motion. Almost everything he presented is moot; so families may be happier to see the criminal executed, others less so. Some criminals may be more likely to engage in gang violence once sentenced to a life without parole, others less so. 

I will now elaborate on why this remains an ill-conceived notion.

My opponent would have you believe that this proposition is as simple as offering the prisoners a choice similar to choosing dessert from a menu. The reality is far more complex. Criminals choosing to be executed would need to undergo a psycho-analytical exam to deem whether they are fit to make such a choice; an attorney would need to be present at all hearings relating to the determination of sentencing; provisions would need to be put in place to ensure no abuse of humans rights are taking place; adequate time allowance would need to be determined in order to allow a prisoner to change his or her mind before execution. All of these things would cost money, and lots of it. 
Capital punishment cases already cost on average three times more than the equivalent life imprisonment case, and thats with a well established legal recourse. This proposition would be a paper-trail nightmare!

Let's not beat around the bush here, the proposition effectively calls for the legalising of euthanasia. The US has long protected the notion of the sanctity of life, and this measure would no doubt open the floodgate for other cases warranting assisted suicide. Why should we afford rights to the worst criminals that we don't to our war heroes or pensioners? A patient suffering with terminal illness cannot be permitted to end his/her own life, so it seems odd that we would permit assisted suicide in the case of criminals.

My opponent raises some of the issues relating to the realities of prison life, when in fact they aren't really relevant. The prison system isn't perfect, but rather than spend the money on something like this proposition in order to fix it, instead actually invest in improving the institution itself. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This proposition won't solve anything. It's not a magic bullet for the issues regarding 'lifers'. It will cost the taxpayers money, at no benefit, it will open the floodgates for euthanasia in the US, and it will create a legal minefield to navigate in every case to which it is applied.

I urge you to let common sense prevail and reject the motion.

Return To Top | Posted:
2016-04-01 11:11:43
| Speak Round

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@bifurcations thanks for the debate, apologies once again for any offence.
Posted 2016-04-08 13:43:13
@IncorrigiblePerspective that's alright no offence was taken :)
Posted 2016-04-01 14:16:11
I would like to apologise unreservedly to my opponent for referring to her in the masculine. It was an oversight on my part having not seen her profile. No offence was intended.
Posted 2016-04-01 13:32:15
The judging period on this debate is over

Previous Judgments

2016-04-01 13:40:16
DimblebyJudge: Dimbleby
Win awarded to: IncorrigiblePerspective
My immediate thought was to vote in favour of the proposition, however having read both sides I have to agree with Incorrigible. He raises issues to do with the legality that i hadn't previously considered. It seems clear the better argument was made by IP.

IP- perhaps be more respectful of your opponent! Your style is almost journalistic in it's dismantling of your opponents argument... sometimes more than a little cheekily!
Bifurcations... i wasn't clear what your main argument was. It seemed like you changed you direction from the first to the second round. Maybe try to be more on point with your central themes. Both of you seem to have argued well, however, and although after reading other peoples feedback i'm not entirely sure i can give more helpful feedback than you've already received.
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9 comments on this judgement
Hi thanks for voting

Just wondering what legal issues raised persuaded you?

Can you give me a bit more detail on where it was I missed the mark with the analysis I provided on the two arguments I made (Gangs and Justice as headlined)?
Posted 2016-04-02 00:45:00
Bifurcations: In response to your request for feedback. It seemed to me that the link with gangs was disproved by IP's source in the rebuttal of round 1. Perhaps you would have been better served by providing counter evidence that suggested otherwise. As for Justice, it suggested to me that really your argument could be taken either way; that is to say some might consider the justice argument pro, and others con. It certainly wasn't a definitive point, to my mind.
Posted 2016-04-03 07:48:32
Thanks Dimbleby, 'glad to see journalistic prose didn't prevent you from seeing the fallacy of the proposition. Gavin Stone... care to elaborate on your judgement?
Posted 2016-04-03 17:25:06
@Dimbleby thanks for responding I have a few more questions for feedback if that is alright?
I gave more analysis about gangs in round 2 sourcing federal prisons. I get that that argument was underdeveloped given the lack character limits. Can you give me a bit more detail on the comparisons of those sources?

I understand what you are saying about the justice argument however I felt it was a response to my opponent claiming it was impossible for justice to be dealt under this policy. I feel I at least laid reasonable doubt to that claim but I may have missed the point. Could you explain it a bit more for me?

Just going back to my first question which legal issues my opponent raised persuaded you. I didn't understand all of them so I want to have a better understanding of what I missed.

Thanks, I appreciate you taking the time to respond and vote.

IncorrigiblePerspective, look I honestly don't mind taking a loss on this because I am here to take part in an event I enjoy which is debating and I accepted this debate to play the devils advocate on a difficult proposition in order to learn and improve. I am asking for genuine feedback here to support that and I really don't appreciate being undermined like you just done to me in a comments section.
Posted 2016-04-04 08:50:58
Birfurcations, sorry how did I undermine you?
Posted 2016-04-06 02:45:51
"glad to see journalistic prose didn't prevent you from seeing the fallacy of the proposition" - this undermines me
Posted 2016-04-06 03:05:18
Err... i'm fairly sure it doesn't. I'm simply analysing my own style as 'journalistic' and highlighting my belief that the proposition is flawed. Nothing to do with you there, and not referencing your arguments either.
Posted 2016-04-06 03:36:26
I took proposition to mean myself. If thats not the case then fine, I apologise for misreading your comment.
Posted 2016-04-06 03:55:04
@Dimbleby hi I think my questions got lost in other comments. Is it possible to get a bit more feedback on the questions I asked?
thanks :)
Posted 2016-04-07 21:03:35
2016-04-02 20:41:37
gavstone21Judge: gavstone21
Win awarded to: Bifurcations
2016-04-05 02:50:48
MicahGrayJudge: MicahGray
Win awarded to: Bifurcations
2016-04-05 20:15:56
cooldudebroJudge: cooldudebro
Win awarded to: IncorrigiblePerspective
This was a hard debate to judge. I had to ask myself a key question. Do I value practicality or morality more for this topic; and, which debater did a better job at presenting their case. At the start, Con was dominating the debate by dominating the argument. The main clash was in the cross ex. Pro started to gain ground; but Con was in control. Pro almost overtook Con in the last round; where Con lost steam. However, Con held his dominance by a slim margin. I came to the answer to the earlier question. Con gave good enough reasons as to why we should value his cases more. Con gave good reasons why Pro's cases aren't practical. Con dominated the debate in every aspect. I give this victory to Con.

Bifurcations, you seemed sheepish throughout the entire debate. You almost totally kept on the defensive except for cross ex. What lost you the debate was you inability to see arguments that may cost you the debate. I could say the same for Pro. Try harder to identify key arguments that may win or lose the debate. Make the clash more significant than it was in this debate. Good job to both of you.
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2016-04-06 01:06:51
TheHouseJudge: TheHouse
Win awarded to: Bifurcations
What this debate boils down to is whether or not this policy is worth enacting. PRO puts forward a reasonable case that this policy would lead to lower gang participation in prisons, possibly leading to a complete breakdown of gangs in prison. The more interesting argument put forward by PRO, is that this is a just policy, this point mostly arises as a defence against most of the rebuttal CON has brought to the debate. The rebuttal which is the majority of the CON case unfortunately misses the point of PROs case in most instances or conflates 2 separate arguments made by CON. PRO substantive case which is present is lacking and very underdeveloped.

Do not attack PRO for framing the debate in a way that helps them it is the advantage afforded to PRO due to the structure of the debate, this is also unfair as PRO cannot/does not attack the CON advantage in the debate of having a round completely uncontested (last round) and knowing your opponents case before you state your own. Carefully read/listen to your opponents speeches, this cannot be said enough. This would help avoid issues of conflating each others arguments and allowing more direct and effective engagement between each other cases. The problem I saw in much of CONs rebuttal is that it did not directly clash with the case put forward by PRO and much of it is grounded in the cost and practicalities of the proposal, which is easily handled by PRO. The most interesting and effective argument put forward by CON is the Constitutional Precedent argument however this arguments is completely underdeveloped s CON get bogged down in what is a rather weak rebuttal case. I would ask CON to further develop his own points as I can’t credit them as highly due to their lack of analysis, essentially they are just assertions. Please also do not straw man your opponents case, which is what you do in the last round, this as a judge is seen as weak or lazy, you are much better to attack your opponents case at their strongest this not only improves the debate as a whole, you and your arguments as a debater but will also helped credit your own arguments better as they are tested at the highest burden possible in the debate.
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14 comments on this judgement
Framing the debate, as I mentioned in my rebuttal, is simply a lazy an irrelevant way of shifting the focus to a position in which the proposed statements become more valid. It's like choosing your own battleground to the expense of all other considerations. An example would be if I was arguing for the benefits of capitalism by 'framing' the debate solely in a town that has seen a prosperous rise since the capitalist model was introduced. It is short sighted and you, as a judge, should be aware of it.

Furthermore your criticism of my not producing more arguments of my own are somewhat unfair. Having the 'con' position for a proposal does have the advantage of seeing the opponents arguments first, but also the disadvantage of having the play the defensive. I was simply arguing for the maintenance of the status quo, and rebutting my opponents arguments were the easiest was to do so.

Finally, and I'm afraid what highlights your own naivety as a judge, is where you claimed that PRO 'easily handled' my issues regarding cost and legal practicalities. This is a hugely problematic area, as anyone with any knowledge of the legal system would affirm. It's just a disappointing facet of this site that my central arguments are not being judged by those with such knowledge, but by anyone with an opinion.
Posted 2016-04-06 02:43:07
Mate that's just rude! You can disagree with a judge and ask for clarification through decent questions but sorry to say you have just shown yourself to be a bad looser in the face of an actual justification.
Posted 2016-04-06 02:59:36
I am sorry you feel that way IncorrigiblePerpective, I'm also sorry that my apparent naivety as a judge is showing through but what I'm most sorry about is that you apparently haven't been instilled with the manners to appreciate someone taking time out of their day to not only judge the debate but also give feedback on the debate as a whole but also constructive criticism on your performance. I will note however you seem to have no problem with conceding that you did straw man PROs case and that you completely ignore the advantage afforded to you by being the last speaker. I don't see the framing of the debate in states that already allow the death penalty as lazy or short sighted as it is in those states that this debate is most likely to happen in reality, states that do not allow the death penalty are for the most part not going to have this debate. Your example is also completely unreasonable as it completely ignores the fact that everything has a downside everything has a negative, it is virtually impossible to frame a debate so as to give to CON no tenable ground from which to argue.
Framing of a debate has to happen due to the legal, moral and structural arguments put forward by both sides that have to come from somewhere. Legal standing, structural capability, even what is seen as moral is dependent on where this debate takes place. America is different from Europe in its death penalty policy and even states within America disagree on it. Yes PRO used this to their advantage but that is their right as it is CONs right to have an entire speech unrebutted by PRO by the structure of debate.
I also do not see having the advantage of knowing your opponents case before hand as a disadvantage as you seem to. Also rebuttal is not defensive but offensive toward your opponents case therefore you are not forced on the defensive. The defensive position in a debate is PRO due to CONs greater scope to rebut PROs case. PROs position allows you to not only be the first to rebut their case but also to rebut all of their case a position CON is not in. I really don’t know why I have to spend so much time explaining this.
As for this debate your arguments boiled down to these harms under the proposition happen some of the time that is not enough to win the debate as that argument carries very little weight as CON or PRO can both say these harm do or don’t happen and can both be right because it’s purely a matter of perspective some families of victims won’t like this proposal some will.
The most interesting thing you bring up is the Constitutional precedent this would set but you do nothing with it, you merely state that it would happen, you give no analysis as to why this is bad or good or harmful, unfortunately you give no analysis to this argument at all, if you had you probably would have won the debate.
Posted 2016-04-06 03:38:22
and that's what a real judge sounds like.....
Posted 2016-04-06 03:51:12
OK everyone lets all calm down a little!
Bifurcations... there is nothing rude about disagreeing with a judges ruling, nor in calling such a judgement naive. I'm not attacking his character or insulting his (or her) intelligence. Also I think you mean 'loser', not 'looser'.... if you're going to insult somebody at least make sure you get your spelling in line, otherwise it rather loses it's sting.

TheHouse... see above. It is not ill mannered to point out what I feel are erroneous mistakes in your analysis. This is a debating website... grow a thicker skin! Just as you didn't hold back in making your judgement on my argument, so it is set up on this site that I can comment on your judgement. Don't take it so personally, old chap.
It's irrelevant now for me to comment further on the framing argument as you've already made your judgement and I'm not going to change your mind, but perhaps I can steer you towards an article which indicates the correct way to frame an argument... http://www.diplomacy.edu/resources/general/framing-argument.
Posted 2016-04-06 08:12:37
IP: again with attacking me on spelling?
You are actually attacking his intelligence because you call him naive while knowing nothing about who he is. It is actually quite rude to say "you as a judge are wrong and naive because I said so". If you wanted to disagree with his call politely all you had to do was ask for more feedback or ask a specific question about the decision not just outright argue with it.
Posted 2016-04-06 09:24:40
@IncorrigiblePerspective I was actually being quite pleasant with you but now my patience has worn thin, you lost the debate because your analysis both in rebuttal and in your substantive case is very weak. You merely proved with the legal argument that this would be hard to do not that it isn’t worthwhile to do and you cannot win the debate by that standard, also PRO does easily deal with this argument because people are mandated to do their job. An argument along the same lines but just as flawed is that scientist should abandon all attempts to cure cancer because curing cancer is hard.
Now on to your attacks against me as a judge not my judgement and I quote “I'm afraid what highlights your own naivety as a judge” this is a personal attack against me and my ability to judge this debate, further “It's just a disappointing facet of this site that my central arguments are not being judged by those with such knowledge, but by anyone with an opinion.” I take that as being directed squarely at me otherwise why would you have included it in the comment to me. I am not just anyone with an opinion but even if I was I am entitled to that opinion and attacking me based on your absolute lack of knowledge about my own knowledge base is absolutely moronic. Also the argument itself is self-defeating if a judge cannot understand your arguments or the harms that your case brings it is not the judges lack of knowledge that is at fault but your failings in putting across your case in a reasonable and coherent manner.
Also pointing out someone’s errors in spelling to undermine and further your own agenda is just puerile especially when they haven’t done it to you.
Posted 2016-04-06 09:33:02
😄 You guys are hilarious! You're really taking this far too seriously. I don't have time to get back to you right now but I'll do so soon. In the meantime take a few deep breaths both of you and try and keep this in context...
Posted 2016-04-06 09:48:54
Bifurcations: Yes I am picking you up on your spelling, given that this is a debate site and in the words of Bill Shakespeare 'those who dabble in with grammar must do so in earnest.' Given that you were insulting me at the time, I think that my response is polite in the extreme. Hardly an 'attack', as you put it.
As for the question of rudeness, let me say this. I didn't ask for TheHouse's feedback, yet he felt quite able to make an assertion of what I should/ shouldn't do in future and where my analysis was lacking. He knows nothing of my experience or knowledge, yet he made a judgement call based on what he read and offered his thoughts. I did the same as him.. I critiqued him on the basis laid before me; his analysis of the debate. And yes, I thought his analysis was naive. It's hardly mudslinging. Honestly the response I've heard from you two would suggest i've been insulting his mother! This is robust debating... a clash of ideas and opinions.
Posted 2016-04-06 13:19:19
OK TheHouse... I will elaborate on your comments as you've obviously gone to great effort to help me. Before I do, and as I seem to have caused you mortal offence and would hate to wear your patience any thinner, let me apologise for my comments if they came across as rude in any way. I can assure you it was not my intention. I certainly don't profess to have argued the perfect case, and should Bifurcations take the victory I will be the first to congratulate her.

However, I do feel like you have made some errors in judgment with your analysis, and I hope you won't feel it is rude for me to highlight a couple, in the interest of mutual understanding.
In the last comment you made alone (i don't have time to go through every one), there we the following:

1. I haven't lost the debate yet, there is still a day left to vote. Your opinion alone isn't enough to decide proceedings.
2. Your analogy with the scientist is really rather silly, as it's not at all similar to the issue I raised about legality. We are asked to consider the proposition, which by implication would naturally include issues relating to feasibility, cost, practicality etc. It is not to say the proposition is hard and therefore should be dismissed, as your scientist analogy suggests, but that if something is going to incur such hurdles that they should be considered as part of the debate.
3. You said that a statement I made about a lack of knowledge was moronic, but surely that is a contradiction-in-terms as you did the exact same thing in your analysis of my argument without knowing anything about my level of knowledge?
4. You also said the argument is self-defeating as (paraphrasing)... it's my job to make the judge understand my point. There is an element of truth to this... but equally I rely on a certain level of education of people judging me. If I was trying to explain Marxist theory to a 2 year old, I may well be guilty of the assertion, but generally speaking I have to assume that those judging me are both coherent and logical. It was my opinion that you didn't 'meet me halfway' when failing to recognise the seriousness of the legal argument, something that everyone else judging this debate has recognised.
5. There's nothing wrong with pointing out a spelling mistake, especially when one is being insulted. What is the agenda i'm pushing.... grammar fascism?

Posted 2016-04-06 13:51:43
1. This was said from my perspective not a statement of fact.
2. My analogy with Scientist is applicable or are you of the belief that scientists in research do not come up against stumbling blocks such a feasibility, finance, legality
even morality.
3. No because I did not judge you but your argument. You implicitly judge my, in your belief, apparent lack of knowledge.
4. It is not my job to prove your argument for you with my own knowledge, I can only judge the debate by what was presented.
5. I don't even need to respond to this.
Posted 2016-04-06 14:21:57
As an aside I don't really care what other judges say unless we are in a direct dialogue but i will note that none of the other judges have answered Bifurcations question on what legal problems persuaded them.
Posted 2016-04-06 14:30:21
Sorry thehouse, but those rebuttals are as flimsy as your original analysis of the debate. We shall just have to agree to disagree and move on.
Posted 2016-04-07 01:48:20
Wow, what happened in these comments!?

Bit of a suggestion here: remember that it's not ok to ask judges to reverse their decision, but it is ok to ask for extra feedback or clarification. If you are seriously concerned about the quality of a judgement, you should talk to me, not take it out on the judgement or the judge. Or else give the judgement a rating you think is appropriate. So please make sure you frame your comments in a constructive, inquiring way, rather than an accusatory one. Even if you strongly disagree!
Posted 2016-04-07 19:41:44
2016-04-06 03:33:08
JurisprudenceJudge: Jurisprudence
Win awarded to: IncorrigiblePerspective
For me this debate only really got going in the cross examination round! It's a shame that it was a limited characters debate as it seems both sides had more to say.
If I were to score the rounds separately, I would say Incorrigible had the upper hand in the opening round by rebutting most of Bi's arguments well, BiF won the last round with a new volley of interesting arguments, and Incorrigible narrowly took the cross examination.

I would award the win to Incorrigible on the basis that i agree with his analysis that the legal complexity has not been addressed sufficiently by Pro. This would be, no doubt, a convoluted and complex policy to implement and I have to recognise that the issues raised by CON were valid and therefore hold for the win.

BiF, don't think I'm voting against you in all your debates, I'm about to award you a win in another! By the final round you seemed to have found your swing and if there had been a fourth round I suspect you may have had a better chance of winning. You correctly picked up on a 'grey area' in CON's rebuttal.. that of the family response and justice, but overall the technical issues CON presented won the day.

Incorrigible... I don't know where you're from but you made me laugh! Some of your rebuttals could be seen as a bit brash and I imagine that won't score you popularity votes with some voters, but your logic was watertight and I enjoy your writing style.
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4 comments on this judgement
haha I saw the comment but I would never accuse someone of that anyway :)

I asked this question of a previous judge and i'm waiting on an answer from them.

Which legal complexities was it that persuaded you?
Posted 2016-04-06 03:40:11
sorry forgot to tag @Jurisprudence
Posted 2016-04-07 21:05:33
I've just finished reading all of the judgements and comments for this debate, and holy smokes has it taken off!

@bifurcations, sorry it has taken me a while to get back to you, I've been swamped with work.
So in terms of your request for feedback. Unfortunately, Incorrigible is absolutely right in saying there are major legal issues, although if he had bothered to explain things a bit more he may have avoided all the ensuing negativity.
As somebody who works in the legal field, I can tell you with absolute certainty that in the US in particular, literally anything that changes, amends or even affects the Constitutional rights of any individual has to go through an absolute minefield of safeguards, protections and loopholes. In many ways this is a good thing, but it is also was has hamstrung a relatively radical president Like Obama from being able to make the changes as he laid out before being elected. Without boring you with the technical reasons, put simply anything pertaining to a change in a Constitutionally-enshrined right is subject to article 5, which basically means an amendment requires a 'supermajority', which involves a double two thirds majority in both the Senate and the House. Why is all this important? The point that Incorrigible failed to put across sufficiently vehemently (although not lost on me) is that this would cost millions and millions and millions of dollars in lobbying, advertising, information dissemination, legal fees etc etc. There is no source that could quote you an accurate figure as to how much it would cost, hence why i'm assuming incorrigible didnt, but it would be astronomical. That is why the proposition is ultimately doomed to fail, and why I couldn't vote for you. You needed to have recognised the issues regarding the practical implementation (i.e the huge cost) and argue that despite that it would STILL be worth it.
Having said all that, you are still in with a good chance of winning, so perhaps other people are less concerned with the legal issue and and more with the overall presentation of the argument.
Well done anyway, you presented well, although I feel a bit bad for incorrigible after some of the retorts :D
Posted 2016-04-08 04:04:16
@Jurisprudence Thanks for getting back to me :)

I understand your analysis on the legal issues the problem I have is that it take a judge with expert knowledge to fill in that analysis from IP because all I can read are assertions presented. Unless I am missing it. If I am can you directly link in IP's analysis so I can see where I went wrong.

If I only lose on the argumentation of cost I am happy to take that fall because I would much rather have spent my time arguing justice than cost. You can see my profile page for other details. So I am more than happy to concede that point for what I feel is a more interesting case given I had such limited characters to work with.

Hope we have an interesting chat here and on our debate :)
Posted 2016-04-08 05:55:03
2016-04-07 05:14:11
Ab_MJudge: Ab_M
Win awarded to: IncorrigiblePerspective
Great debate! I really enjoyed reading/evaluating it. You both demonstrated good debate skills: You systematically addressed each individual point brought up by your opponent, and then connecting those individual points back to the big picture. I was very impressed!

I really wanted to vote for Pro. Con was pretty rude, I like the Pro side of this resolution better, and reading it for the first time, it really felt like Pro had won. Although Pro did an excellent job refuting every harm against the affirmative side of the resolution, and she had probably won twice as many arguments on the flow as Con had, all of those arguments were potential harms on the Pro, rather than benefits. Pro effectively demonstrated that allowing prisoners to choose death over a life sentence did not harm anyone, but Con was correct to point out that she did not fulfill her burden of proof as the Pro. She did not bring up a significant benefit to the enactment, she only defended against harms (even in her original constructive, she predicted and refuted harms, rather than bringing up benefits).

Pro had two "benefits" in her constructive: One about lifers causing problems for prisons, but that was refuted by stronger evidence early on. The evidence she provided in defense of this notion simply proved that gang members are sentenced to life in prison on their third offense, but did not suggest that those sentenced to life in prison were more likely to engage in gang violence. The second one was about opening dialogue with prison staff so that they could help the prisoners, but this didn't actually benefit anyone. It doesn't do a prisoner any good to become a better person through dialogue and counseling if the prisoner never gets to leave prison. When pressed about benefits later on in the debate, she brought up how it would benefit the victims' families (which, as she stated earlier, is not the purpose of punitive legislation. So she defeated that argument herself). I would have voted Pro if she had said "we should allow them to choose because a person should be allowed to hold onto their freedoms until there is a valid reason to take those freedoms away." Because Pro did successfully prove that there was no reason prisoners SHOULDN'T have that freedom, this line of argumentation would have won it for her. She did say that it was a matter of principle, rather than a matter of costs v. benefits, so if she had brought up specific principles (like the principle that freedoms should be assumed until there's reason to take them away) that were upheld by her side of the resolution, she would have won. In the end, I was forced to vote Con.

I flowed the round to make it easier to evaluate. If you'd like to see which arguments you won and which ones you lost, and what I took away from the round, my flowsheet is here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1jXyv7sMVnOQ0U0WnWGIOmZeUVzRCvchRDZelNptcrns I tagged a lot of your arguments by writing down what point I thought you were trying to make, rather than writing your exact words. I was trying to tag your arguments in a way that made their impact to the round clear to me.

IncorrigiblePerspective: There were times when you came off more rude than I believe you intended to. Try, when you phrase your sentences, to speak to specific ARGUMENTS, rather than to your opponent. (ex. instead of "he has sought to place the emphasis of his argument on increasingly shaky grounds," just say "the arguments brought up on the Pro side of this debate don't stand, and here's why:"). Don't call your opponent ignorant, don't say she's "grasping at straws," and don't use CX time to correct her grammar. Let the debate speak for itself. Personal accusations are very unattractive, and they make it difficult to vote for you.
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3 comments on this judgement
Thank you for your feedback. I apologise if I came accross as rude; I'm used to Oxford style debating (live) where is entirely common to make assertions relationing to the experience or lack therof of your opponents. As this is a digital debate I will endeavour to be less adversarial in future.
Posted 2016-04-07 07:16:07
Thanks for saying you will attempt to make this change in future debates. Even other live debates, as you call them, do not have to be adversarial and at competitions calling out an opponent rather than their argument is seen as really bad form. In comments to a previous judgment on this debate you noted that myself and the judge were taking things too seriously for calling out that behaviour but it is an important part of a debating community, to me anyway, that everyone feels welcomed and feels like their opinions will be treated with respect even when they are challenged. We can all disagree with each other but we can put our points across in a polite way. I really do hope you will take on the advice you responded to because I admit I was, and still to a large extent am, unwilling to take on another debate you were involved in because of the way you presented during the debate and afterwards. I take this issue seriously because the discussion of interesting ideas to me is what I enjoy and for that enjoyment to be hampered by what I see as entirely unnecessary conflict really puts me off.
Posted 2016-04-07 08:58:14
Bifurcations... As much as I'm willing to listen to reason when presented with a sound argument, I am rather tired of being chastised by you. May I remind you that you called me a 'bad loser' and theHouse used words like 'moronic' when describing my rationale.
Judge AB_m has recognised that perhaps my comments were misconstrued as being ruder than they were intended, and I have in turn pledged to temper my response.
I have already apologised to you once in the comments section, and to theHouse for any offence taken. However, I maintain that both of you have really chosen to take offence so severely, and your sardonic comments ('bad loser/you haven't been instilled with manners/ 'and that's what a real judge sounds like') did little to placate the situation.
If previously I was unaware of the sensitive sensibilities of members of this site, I am now fully informed... you need not chip in any further.
As to whether you debate with me again, I shall leave that up to you. I hold no ill-feeling towards you, despite this ruckus, and I actually thought the debate was good.
Posted 2016-04-07 15:08:05
2016-04-07 20:37:25
adminJudge: admin    TOP JUDGE
Win awarded to: Bifurcations
Pro set up a perfectly ordinary model debate. They used the ol' one-argument wonder strategy, arguing that pragmatically lifers are drains on the criminal system, being difficult to control without rehab, this in turn disrupting the long-term power of gangs (it's usual to run about 3 arguments in a case like this but this might be because of the limitations on characters). I felt it was probably a mistake to set this debate in exclusively death-penalty states as the motion and the argument behind it would certainly follow in non-death-penalty states - my guess is that pro pre-empted some sort of euthenasia argument but I don't think pro did enough to show why states that allow the death penalty should be treated differently. That's a hard aff line - nonetheless, the argument was solid on its own. Pro did a particularly detailed discussion of the mechanism, which I felt was probably more than was required in this topic.

Pro's argument was premised on many people actually voluntarily accepting the death penalty, and this is the usual neg counter-attack. Probably in response to the detail in pro's model though, con seemed to think it was safer to run a straight neg, which is fair enough honestly. First con denied there was a problem (no proof or citations), then con denied pro's case constituted a solution (pro's analysis is oversimplified, though con wasn't too detailed on why, so I didn't credit it much), and it would create other negative externalities (removed semblence of punishment, legal complications, precedent etc ... most of which was fairly assertive but I gave it credit).

Straight negatives are a super powerful line because they're as multi-frontal as you can get. Pro's second round established a few things - first, pro supported their argument on gang violence. Second, pro argued the counterpoint of justice, and spent much of her case establishing this as a positive externality, as occasionally death is more just. Con used their last round to advance arguments of cost (which I felt was new material, because the R1 point to this was pretty much 4 words long), the moral abhorrence of euthenasia (though I think con sorta forgot to say why euthenasia is bad... this harmed con's case here because con's assertion that the USA has protected human life's sanctity was readily countered by the fact that pro had set the debate, in part, within the USA's death penalty states), and mooting the question of the realities of prison life (which almost devolved into a counter-model at that point, ie spend more fixing prisons).

I felt like con won round 1, and pro clearly won round 2. A straight neg case was the absolutely correct line to run for con, but pro was more consistent, and I feel like con's final round was largely wasted on material that clearly wasn't summary advancing the debate, but rather extending the debate. On the other hand, pro's model was weak, but they understood better how to carry that model forwards in the debate in terms of role fulfillment.

On the argument of gangs, pro didn't establish why gang members would ever accept the death penalty, but surprisingly this did not constitute part of con's straight neg. Instead con's argument was that lifers are in gangs at the same sort of rate, and I think this actually supported pro's argument of gang leadership being able to form with longer-term incarcerations. I agree with con's point that pro's case here is entirely moot, but it's con's job to moot it, and I don't think con ultimately did. Advantage pro.

On the argument of externalities, this was con's line from the get-go, and con carried this hard - even too hard - to the very end of the debate. I felt the whole opting-out thing was parried by pro well, and although pro did little to address the remainder of the complications con discussed, I felt like there were missing causal links throughout as I discussed before. Con did win the argument of cost, though it carried little weight in the end (and it's the most easily mootable argument in the history of debating anyway lol, I suspect pro merely forgot about it), but I gave this case overall as a very narrow advantage to con.

Con had the better strategy but ultimately, I felt, a poorer execution. And that is why, very narrowly but clearly, I feel this debate falls to the affirmative side.

I didn't read the CX for your cases and most judges don't. There's a temptation to use CX a little like POIs in BP debating or similar, when in fact it's more for the debaters' benefit than any judge's (I felt this mistake was made by both sides). That being said I deducted a conduct point from con for their behavior during the CX, which while I don't think was malicious, was probably slightly misguided. I guess con probably realizes this already.

I feel like both sides did a good job with structuring their cases and were very readable. I would have strongly preferred, however, less fluff and more detailed analysis from both sides. As I identified above, both sides were missing crucial links in their arguments, to the point that both sides were fixing their arguments even into the second round. Pro definitely got carried away, especially in round 1 with detailing their model, and in round 2 with quite a philosophical case fro justice. Those characters would have been MUCH better spent on solidifying a few points like this. Con likewise didn't focus enough on each aspect of their straight negative and didn't do a very good spread.

If I could say one thing to both of you, it's to really make sure your points are watertight from a logical standpoint. An assertion will obviously not carry the debate for you. You both got better at it as the debate progressed, but I think you're both capable of better than that.

Keep up the good writing style and structure though. This debate gets a +1 from me overall for its quality :)
1 user rated this judgement as constructive
19 comments on this judgement
Quick point to add - con could have won this SO EASILY by just extending what they had in R1, in R2. Rather than focusing on a small part of what they had in R1 to extend the debate, if that makes any sense. In case that wasn't clear from my judgement :)
Posted 2016-04-07 20:47:42
@admin thanks for judging

I accepted the Pro side to play devils advocate and I'm still not sure what argumentation is strongest from Gov side. What material would you have chosen?
Posted 2016-04-07 20:47:49
@Bifurcations before I answer ... how many email notifications did you receive because of this vote comment? Just one or several? I got like 8 so I just wanted to find out why lol, given that I did change the email notification thing a few hours ago I want to find any bugs.
Posted 2016-04-07 20:55:04
I got 8 as well ... :P guess you found a bug
Posted 2016-04-07 20:56:34
@admin testing...
Posted 2016-04-07 21:31:21
@admin testing again
Posted 2016-04-07 21:59:14
@admin sorry for all this testing, I hope I'm not spamming your inboxes. Fixed quite a few bugs in looking for this one though lol.
Posted 2016-04-07 22:05:46
@admin and again...
Posted 2016-04-07 22:08:36
Ah ha! I think I found it! Thanks for putting up with me :) This poor server has sent far too many debug emails for one night. @admin
Posted 2016-04-07 22:12:22
Yip, should be fixed. @Bifurcations give me a buzz if you get too many notifications for this one.

Anyway, yes, the thing about this debate is that it's ultimately moral. I'd split it into victim, state, and criminal, and talk about why each would want this criminal's death. Go into the psychology with a few narratives. Your value is probably autonomy, not justice. At the point where judiciaries give life sentences, the whole thing is retributive anyway, so I feel you probably have a natural case just in saying that there's no marginal benefit to keeping these people alive, doubly so if they want to die.
Posted 2016-04-07 22:33:24
@admin this looks like it is working now :)
Posted 2016-04-08 01:10:31
@admin thanks for the comments that makes a lot of sense :)
Posted 2016-04-08 01:13:22
Admin, thank you for your feedback. As the creator of the site and the top judge, I can't argue with your reasoning. One of the things i've learnt here is that these debates aren't like a legal debate, where evidence presented to the contrary renders an opposing council's argument null. When Pro referred to links with gang involvement, I assumed my counter with a definitive source rejecting that very point would negate the argument in any judges assessment of the debate. Clearly other factors need to be paid more attention to.
Regarding the extension of my arguments from R1; in oxford debating, this is not the normal strategy, as most speakers feel they have a limited period of time in which to address all the issues. Repetition is seen as either a sign of a weak case or of an argument case lacking scope. Nevertheless, I hear you.

Regarding you deducting me a conduct point in the CX round (perhaps the point which lost me your vote?), could you please elaborate on that?
I feel pretty low about this whole debate, as I feel much of what I've said has been has been misconstrued and then blown out of proportion, and it's left me feeling fairly disenfranchised. Perhaps my style is too direct for this forum and I should avoid further missteps by moving on. I hold a firm belief that in debate it is entirely possible to question a persons' experience without being rude, and to be challenging without being adversarial.
Posted 2016-04-08 02:32:35
@Incorrigibleperspective, Don't leave the site IP, i think is is just one debate that got slightly out of hand. I will stick up for you in saying that the only thing I think you were slightly misguided in saying was the 'anyone will an opinion can judge this', and I think you probably realise that. Otherwise, I think you're well within your rights to call something naive, so don't worry too much about it. I was debating with uni once and my opponent said of my argument in his final round that it was 'even more painfully baffling that the decision to wear that pair of shoes.' I was able to laugh afterwards, especially as we won the debate!
Posted 2016-04-08 04:15:43
@IncorrigiblePerspective You make a few good observations. I think there's definitely a school in debating that argues the point of debating is to determine which side of the topic is more "true" or correct. It's a minority view, but a valid one I think. Most people, myself included, see debating as being more about which side demonstrates the better skill in persuading a neutral audience. The two are often at odds.

To be clear I didn't totally ignore the sources you established. It's just that the source didn't do anything much really except assert the opposite. If you wanted to appeal to that person's experience etc (not that I'd necessarily recommend that as the strongest line) then you'd actually have to establish why we should prefer the source you had to the analysis pro had.

The conduct didn't lose it for you, I scored you a 75 and a 69 in each of the rounds, and @Bifurcations had 74 and 72. Had you not had a point lost for conduct in R2 you would have still lost by a point. On this scale, 70 is an average speech, 80 is the best ever, and 60 is the worst ever. I don't think any of your rounds were let downs from a substantive point of view and you clearly knew what to argue, the only issue really was in how you argued it. I would not have let the debate come down to just that by any means - like I said I don't think there was any malice.

Sometimes it's just how you phrase things. The usual rule is not to address your opponent but to address the judge (just pretend there's an actual judge there in front of you lol). In a CX exchange you can probably refer to your opponent in the context of a question (ie what do you think...) but it's not the place to make statements about their points or them (ie "it seems you don't understand it";). Hope that makes sense! Simply rewording at as a question (ie Do you understand... ?) gets the message across fine.
Posted 2016-04-08 13:20:29
Further to that, it might be ok to use those points as part of your substantive but not CX. If you're not familiar with CX (and I admit, it's not one of my strongest areas personally because it's not done in RL here) then it might be worth reading up about it if you plan to do debates that include it.
Posted 2016-04-08 13:23:37
@admin OK well thank you for the feedback. I disagree that Pro presented a more substantive case, but by and large I think your points are valid and I appreciate your perspective. I look forward to debating with you in the future.
Posted 2016-04-08 13:39:57
Thanks for your feedback @admin
What speaker scale are you using?
Posted 2016-04-08 14:14:43
@Bifurcations Slightly modified World Schools. It's common to NZ tournaments.
Posted 2016-04-08 16:59:52

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