Instigator / Pro

The death penalty is inefficient at reducing crime and is immoral


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

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After 6 votes and with 35 points ahead, the winner is...

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Note: PLEASE read the entire description before making a comment

Pro: Arguing that the death penalty isn't an efficient solution and is immoral

Con: Arguing that the death penalty is an efficient solution and is moral


- In order to participate, I'd like to ask you first PM me and state that you'd like to debate me. The reason why I'm doing this is to prevent this from being a noob sniping in which a new user accepts the debate and then forfeits the entire debate. Because this is quite frequent and annoying, I'll be screening you to make sure you won't do this.

- If you have any disagreements with any of the description you MUST negotiate via PM before or early into the debate ( the first round ) and not during the debate itself.

- No personal insults.

- No Kritiks

- We'll specifically be tackling the death penalty in the United States and not in other countries.

- BoP is shared

Both debaters are REQUIRED to follow this structure

R1: Opening argument NO REBUTTALS

R2: Rebuttals

R3: 2nd Rebuttals

R4: Conclusion NO REBUTTALS

By accepting the debate you agree to these rules and if broken will cost you a conduct point.

Because this is a rather straight forward topic, definitions aren't exactly necessary.

This debate will be discussing the morality and logic of the death penalty in the united states.

Round 1

Greetings everyone, I’d like to start off by thanking my opponent for accepting this debate as well as any noble voters who'll sit down and read all of this.  

This debate will be about the death penalty and the BoP is shared with both of us having to prove our case, just for clarification here is the BoP for both of us. 

Pro: Has to prove the death penalty is immoral and inefficient at reducing crime. 

Con: Has to prove the death penalty is moral and efficient at reducing crime. 

For clarification, voters MUST keep in mind that in a scenario where Pro perhaps proves the death penalty is immoral, however, Con proves it’s efficient at reducing crime, due to both BoP’s NOT being fulfilled this will result in a tie. 

Both opponents MUST both fulfill their BoP 

The way the debate will be structured will be as follows, 

R1: Opening argument NO REBUTTALS

R2: Rebuttals

R3: 2nd Rebuttals

R4: Conclusion NO REBUTTALS

By Con accepting the debate he agrees to all of the rules and if broken will cost him a conduct point and vice versa. 

Now that I’ve clarified the rules and BoP set out in the description, I’ll now begin my opening argument. 

Table of contents for Round 1 

Crime Deterrence:  The Death Penalty is inefficient at deterring Crime. 

Crime Deterrence:   The Death Penalty is more expensive than life in prison which in turn takes away money from more useful programs and services. 
Morality Argument:  The Death Penalty causes more harm than good towards the victim's families.

Morality Argument: The Death Penalty leads to botched executions and innocents wrongly killed 


 Crime Deterrence:  The Death Penalty is inefficient at deterring Crime. 

The death penalty in practice has shown time and time again it’s overall inefficient at properly reducing crime. 

Across various different studies and statistics, I’ve looked at, the common consensus among the crime analyst community is that the Death Penalty almost offers NO correlation with reducing crime. 

Statistically according to DeathPenaltyInfo.Org, it proclaims, 

“ A Death Penalty Information Center analysis of U.S. murder data from 1987 through 2015 has found no evidence that the death penalty deters murder or protects police. Instead, the evidence shows that murder rates, including murders of police officers, are consistently higher in death-penalty states than in states that have abolished the death penalty” 

An easy counter to this would be that correlation doesn’t equal causation which is a valid argument as crime rates could be affected by other outside factors and not the death penalty. However one of the analysists has this to say. 

“Murder rates may be affected by many things, but the death penalty doesn’t appear to be one of them.” 

And then states, 

“ While the death penalty, he says, “makes no measurable contribution” to police safety,” 

While this is just one simple study, it does at the very least demonstrate that statistically according to various analysists the death penalty doesn’t make a measurable contribution to police safety nor towards public safety which is something to keep in mind. 

However, this wasn’t enough for me and I wanted something more definitive which is than when I found an article by which provides the opinions of a larger group of crime analysts and researchers opinions on the matter. 

It finds that, 

“ Most experts do not believe that the death penalty or the carrying out of executions serve as deterrents to murder, nor do they believe that existing empirical research supports the deterrence theory.  In fact, the authors report that 88.2% of respondents do not think that the death penalty deters murder” 

This according to the study is a level of an overwhelming amount of analysts believing in something as comparable as how 90 % of scientists believe in Global Warming. 

Not to mention another study this time by which states that, 

“ When police chiefs were asked to rank the factors that, in their judgment, reduce the rate of violent crime, they mentioned curbing drug use and putting more officers on the street, longer sentences and gun control. They ranked the death penalty as the least effective.” 

We’ve now established that the death penalty has no measurable impact on deterring crime and that the majority of experts, researchers, and Police Chiefs believe the death penalty has no bearing on the reduction of crime and there are other more efficient ways at deterring crime. 

Crime Deterrence:   The Death Penalty is more expensive than life in prison which in turn takes away money from more useful programs and services.

A common myth concerning the death penalty is that it’s cheaper than life in prison. 

However statistical data paints a different picture. 

According to, Capital punishment wastes precious resources that could be better spent elsewhere as the study states,

“ It squanders the time and energy of courts, prosecuting attorneys, defense counsel, juries, and courtroom and law enforcement personnel. It unduly burdens the criminal justice system, and it is thus counterproductive as an instrument for society's control of violent crime.” 

The study then goes on to state, 

“ Limited funds that could be used to prevent and solve crime (and provide education and jobs) are spent on capital punishment.” 

While we’re on the subject of money, according to, the death penalty costs significantly cost more amount of money than life in prison would. To provide some perspective of the overwhelming cost, here is a quick rundown. 

“Legal costs: Almost all people who face the death penalty cannot afford their own attorney. The state must assign public defenders or court-appointed lawyers to represent them (the accepted practice is to assign two lawyers), and pay for the costs of the prosecution as well.

Pre-trial costs: Capital cases are far more complicated than non-capital cases and take longer to go to trial. Experts will probably be needed on forensic evidence, mental health, and the background and life history of the defendant. County taxpayers pick up the costs of added security and longer pre-trial detention.

Jury selection: Because of the need to question jurors thoroughly on their views about the death penalty, jury selection in capital cases is much more time consuming and expensive.

Trial: Death-penalty trials can last more than four times longer than non-capital trials, requiring juror and attorney compensation, in addition to court personnel and other related costs.
Incarceration: Most death rows involve solitary confinement in a special facility. These require more security and other accommodations as the prisoners are kept for 23 hours a day in their cells.

Appeals: To minimize mistakes, every prisoner is entitled to a series of appeals. The costs are borne at taxpayers’ expense. These appeals are essential because some inmates have come within hours of execution before evidence was uncovered proving their innocence”

We’ve now established that the death penalty according to various statistics, analysts and police chiefs is inefficient at the reduction of crime and overall costs more than other alternatives IE life in prison and takes away resources from other areas. 

To provide clarification, here is a detailed website that lists underfunded federal programs that in turn hinder criminal investigations. All of which would do a better job at deterring crime and would maximize effectiveness more than the death penalty would. 

Essentially a few noteworthy underfunded agencies include but not limited too, The National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). 

Both of which aid in stopping shootings and various terror attacks across the United States. 

 Morality Argument:  The Death Penalty causes more harm than good towards the victim's families 

A thorough study conducted by details how much pain and suffering the families of the victims undergo, details just the amount of trauma victims families undergo when the murderer is faced with execution. 

“ Families of murder victims undergo severe trauma and loss which no one should minimize. However, executions do not help these people heal nor do they end their pain; the extended process prior to executions prolongs the agony of the family. Families of murder victims would benefit far more if the funds now being used for the costly process of executions were diverted to counseling and other assistance.” 

However, victims families not only go through more pain when the murderer is faced with execution but they also feel very unsatisfied as according to PBS in a 2012 study on the matter. 

“ The 2012 study concluded families in Minnesota were able to move on sooner; because their loved ones’ killers were sentenced to life without parole, rather than the death penalty, they weren’t retraumatized in the multiple appeals that often precede an execution.” 

Not only this but according to psychology today, the death penalty not only causes pain for the victim's families but also for jurors/ 

“ The Capital Jury Project interviewed 1,198 jurors from 353 capital trials in 14 states and found that 81% of female jurors and 18% of male jurors regretted their decisions, and 63% of female jurors and 38% of male jurors sought counseling after the trial.” 

Not only jurors but also correctional officers as it reads, 

“ Corrections officers actually carry out the executions, and 31% of them suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In comparison, 20% of Iraq War veterans suffer PTSD.” 

Conclusively it’s self-evident that the death penalty offers no closure towards the victim's families and causes much more suffering to not only the victim's families but also towards correctional officers and jurors. 

Morality Argument: The Death Penalty leads to botched executions and innocents wrongly killed 

Statistically according to, around 3 % of death penalty executions are botched in some way, and other methods such as lethal injection have a 7 % botched rate. 

While this number isn't that high, these executions are barbaric and inhumane to the person being executed. 

Here are just a few examples of botched execution stories, 

“ August 10, 1982. Virginia. Frank J. Coppola. Electrocution. Although no media representatives witnessed the execution and no details were ever released by the Virginia Department of Corrections, an attorney who was present later stated that it took two 55-second jolts of electricity to kill Coppola. The second jolt produced the odor and sizzling sound of burning flesh, and Coppola’s head and leg caught on fire. Smoke filled the death chamber from floor to ceiling with a smoky haze.” 

Essentially imagine this, 

Disclaimer: The following video I’ll be linking is rather grueling and on my first viewing of the movie terrified me for a good few days. Viewer discretion is advised.

This then happened again in this story, 

“ 2. April 22, 1983. Alabama. John Evans. Electrocution. After the first jolt of electricity, sparks and flames erupted from the electrode attached to Evans’s leg. The electrode burst from the strap holding it in place and caught on fire. Smoke and sparks also came out from under the hood in the vicinity of Evans’s left temple. Two physicians entered the chamber and found a heartbeat. The electrode was reattached to his leg, and another jolt of electricity was applied. This resulted in more smoke and burning flesh. Again the doctors found a heartbeat. Ignoring the pleas of Evans’s lawyer, a third jolt of electricity was applied. The execution took 14 minutes and left Evans’s body charred and smoldering.[2]” 

Both of these botched executions are rather inhumane and quite frankly barbaric. And the fact this happens to 3 % of the time raises an eyebrow that perhaps the risk of death this painful isn’t worth the risk. 

Nextly the death penalty executes a rather decent amount of innocents as according to the PNAS, nearly 1 in 25 death row inmates are innocent. 

In which it states,

 “ We conclude that [4.1 %] is a conservative estimate of the proportion of false conviction among death sentences in the United States.” 

We’ve now established that overall a decent portion of death row inmates are innocent and an almost decent number of executions are botched which causes brutal deaths and unjust deaths. 


So far we’ve established that the death penalty doesn’t deter crime effectively, more expensive than life in prison, causes suffering for a large number of people including the victim's families and jurors, and overall leads to innocents executed. 

I will now await my opponents opening, and thanks for any voters who’ve made it this far! 

  • PinkFreud09 


I feel the need to make some opening statements in response to something present in my opponent’s case. 

The resolution is as follows: “the death penalty is inefficient at reducing crime and is immoral.”

This resolution has duel claims, however I contend that judges ought to weigh the implications of each claim. Pro attempts to make it a “rule” that each claim must be weighed the same, but keep in mind this “rule” was not present in the description nor title nor in the discourse we had preceding the debate.

Thus, I must posit that the point of contention that must hold the most weight is whether the death penalty is just, not just whether it makes financial sense. 

“Just” will be defined as considered post fact; as a means of reciprocity – correcting the scales to provide some equilibrium of fairness. In other terms, justice means giving giving each person his or her due

In other words, say I proved that the death penalty was immoral, yet my opponent proved it was financially detrimental. Instead of it being a tie, since justice carries more weight than finance, I should win the round. 

This is not a philosophically profound concept, but I did feel the need to make the interjection as it is likely going to be relevant when judging. 

Contention 1: Effectiveness

Subpoint A: Plea Deals

97 percent of federal cases and 94 percent of state cases end in plea bargains, with defendants pleading guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence. (1) As my opponent himself points out: trials are expensive as hell. Thus, the cost saved by these plea bargains is utterly astronomical. 

Attorney Robert B. Evnen elaborates more:
“Claimed 'cost studies,' often performed by or at the behest of death penalty opponents, are frequently so incomplete as to be false and misleading. For example, they don't take into account the increase in the cost of life without parole cases if there were no death penalty. Criminal defendants who are facing the death penalty — which today must be pleaded by prosecutors up front — often want to make a deal by pleading guilty to first degree murder in exchange for a sentencing recommendation of life without parole. The existence of the death penalty as a possible sentence leads to guilty pleas that save the money spent on trials and limit the opportunity for appeals." (2

Further, if a case goes to trial, there is the risk that prosecutors may lose the case and result in a criminal being allowed to roam free. Thus, the deterrence from trials that the death penalty creates is cost-saving and crime-solving. 

Subpoint B: Further Crime

Prisoner parole or escapes can give criminals another chance to kill. The parole system is a complete joke.
For example:
back in July, “six homicides were allegedly committed by five Pennsylvania parolees over two months, including the slayings of two children and a Pittsburgh police officer.” 

Just locally in the state: 
“Last year, 6,526 people under parole supervision were arrested, or almost 16% of the more than 41,000 total, according to Department of Corrections data.”
This included 93 for murder. 
On the broader scale, it gets much much worse:
As it stands nationwide, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in May 2018, from 2005 onward an estimated 68% of released prisoners were arrested within 3 years, 79% within 6 years, and 83% within 9 years.
One can imagine the violence these released prisoners commit. 
“At the end of the 9-year follow-up period, 79% of prisoners released for a violent offense had been arrested for any type of crime. Prisoners released for a violent offense were more likely to have been arrested for a violent offense.”
With executions, it is fairly obvious how this problem would be thwarted. As Donald Trump has said on Fox & Friends: 
“They say it's not a deterrent. Well, you know what, maybe it's not a deterrent but these two [men convicted of killing two police officers in Hattiesburg, MS] will not do any more killing. That's for sure."
Lastly, even if prisoners were imprisoned without parole, violence can, will, and is committed in prisons. Death penalty being an option does indeed deter these prisoners from committing violence as to not make their sentence more serious. 

Subpoint C: Deterrence

It is largely thought that capital punishment deters further crime. Indeed, what deters more than the threat of death?
My opponent will try to twist this into a one-sided issue in his favor, but the literature is rich in favor of capital punishment!

Here is some for your pleasure:

“Our research shows that each execution carried out is correlated with about 74 fewer murders the following year.” (5)

“Each execution results, on average, in eighteen fewer murders with a margin of error of plus or minus ten. “(6)

“We find a significant relationship among the execution, removal, and commutation rates and the rate of homicide. Each additional execution decreases homicides by about five, and each additional commutation increases homicides by the same amount, while one additional removal from death row generates one additional homicide.” (7)

Indeed, David Muhlhausen, PhD, concludes the following:

“recent investigations, using a variety of samples and statistical methods, consistently demonstrate a strong link between executions and reduced murder rates... In short, capital punishment does, in fact, save lives.”

This does not appear to be “one-sided,” now does it?

Contention 2: Morality and Justice

In order to achieve morality, justice must be given. Remember my opening statements: in order to achieve justice, we must take reciprocal action to the crime. 
Execution being the highest level of punishment, reserved for the most heinous of crimes, is the fitting reciprocal action for those condemned to death row. 

It is clear by modern literature that many are starting to feel a sort of twisted, deranged compassion for the condemned rather than the victim. In this twisted compassion, many forget the reason behind their condemnation to begin with: crimes against humanity. 

We must remember! 

In March 2017, the LAAPOA states the following about death row inmates JUST in California! 
“Giving up on the death penalty would mean giving up on justice for crime victims and their families. The prisoners currently on California's death row have murdered more than 1,000 people. Of those, 229 were children, 43 were peace officers, and 294 of the victims were sexually assaulted and tortured.”

Why have compassion for these criminals? 

Just like Atul Gawande, I am not troubled that Timothy McVeigh was executed for the 168 people he killed, or that John Wayne Gacy has been executed for committing 33 murders.

Just like Immanuel Kant, I do not deny that it is the moral responsibility for a society to execute the actors of these heinous acts. 

This compassion is disturbing to me, but it is even more disturbing to those families who have been victimized by these criminals.

Kermit Alexander, a former NFL player who lost his mother, sister and two nephews when they were murdered in 1984 put it well: 

“Whatever your feelings are toward the death penalty, one thing most people will never know is the pain experienced when a family member, or in my case, family members are brutally tortured and murdered. In 1984, my mother, sister and two nephews were cold-heartedly shot to death by an 18-year-old gang member named Tiqueon Cox...Cox, while on death row, attempted a violent takeover of the Super Max Adjustment Center at San Quentin with a goal to kill as many guards as possible.”
 You can criticize it as “revenge” or as “too stressful” for the families involved, but what kind of closure is it to allow such monsters to live?

Justice is not satisfied by forgotten memories. 
I do hope that, upon review, judges have determined negation is common sense and moral obligation. 

Thank you. 

Round 2
O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name.
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.
‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy:
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand nor foot
Nor arm nor face nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O be some other name.
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

Round 3
Since my opponent has not returned, here is a mini-rebuttal of what he has said, even though it isn't really necessary given his forfeits.


- Unlike my opponent, I must posit that whether the death penalty is just holds more weight than whether it makes financial sense. 

Crime Deterrence:

- My opponent gives one study whereas I give several that directly counter his.

- My opponent's poll comes from Amnesty International, which is a heavily biased organization from the UK. The site claims that
"The death penalty is the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights."
Further, surveys hold little weight. Argument from authority is a fallacy, and surveys are heavily flawed in nature.

- My opponent's second poll carries the same fallacy of argument from authority. In this case, however, the authority is misplaced. Police chiefs do not know how to fix the criminal justice system. 

- Extend points on deterrence against violence within prisons, violence on parole, and the various studies I cite in my constructive.


- Extend points on plea deals and case losses as well as crime deterrence.


- Extend points on reciprocal justice dealing with crimes against humanity.

- Extend points on moral obligation: "Justice is not satisfied by forgotten memories."

My opponent's point on botched executions seems more sympathetic to the criminal than the victim.

- My opponent's point on closure ignores those who feel unsafe with the criminal still roaming, and ignores the moral obligation of reciprocal justice instead of simply letting memories fade.

Thank you. 
Round 4
Extend points, smoke joints.