Instigator / Pro

Resolved: The US should abolish the death penalty


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With 7 votes and 39 points ahead, the winner is ...

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Two weeks
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Open voting
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One month
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R1: Opening statements
R2: Rebuttals
R3: Defense
R4: Close

Round 1
Thank you, press, for accepting this debate. I will now provide my opening speech. 



  1. Should: used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone's actions.
  2. Abolish: formally put an end to (a system, practice, or institution).
  3. Death penalty: the punishment of execution, administered to someone legally convicted of a capital crime.

I propose commuting all death row inmates to life without parole. 

C1) The DP is immoral

Sub-point A: The death penalty is too powerful

The government ought not to have the power to kill its citizens. The death penalty ultimately violates the proportionality principle of justice, namely that the punishment ought to fit the crime. As the ACLU notes [1]:

When the government metes out vengeance disguised as justice, it becomes complicit with killers in devaluing human life and human dignity. In civilized society, we reject the principle of literally doing to criminals what they do to their victims: The penalty for rape cannot be rape, or for arson, the burning down of the arsonist's house. We should not, therefore, punish the murderer with death.
Sub-point B: The DP makes irreversibly mistakes

Since the death penalty was reinstated, more than 150 people were exonerated. To put this number in context, for every 10 people executed, 1 person was set free [2]. Another study shows that 4% of defendants sentenced to die are innocent [3]. Quite a few of these convictions were quite recent. For example, Rodricus Crawford was convicted in 2013 for murder and given the death penalty. He was exonerated just a few years later [4]. Derral Wayne Hodgkins was convicted in 2011 and exonerated in 2015 [5]. It is impossible to know how many innocent men were executed since the '70s. 

Sub-point C: The DP causes the innocent to plead guilty.

Picture this: you're on trial for murder and the prosecution has flimsy evidence. In order to secure a conviction, they offer you a plea deal where if you don't plead guilty, they will seek the death penalty. Do you accept this bargain? According to the innocent project, at least 31 people plead guilty to serious crimes like rape and murder to avoid long sentences and to avoid trial. These innocent people served a combined total of 150 years in prison [6]. In the case of Robby Ray Dixon, they pled guilty to a 1979 Mississippi rape and murder they didn’t commit. After the two men were threatened with the death penalty, they testified against a third innocent defendant (ibid). 

C2) The DP is failed policy

Sub-point A: the DP fails to deter 

There is a clear scientific consensus that the death penalty fails to deter. Indeed, the threat of execution is unlikely to deter someone who is angry and about to kill. In fact, states without the death penalty have lower rates of murder than states with the death penalty [7]. In fact, Justice Marshall in Furman v. Georgia, 1972 wrote: "In light of the massive amount of evidence before us, I see no alternative but to conclude that capital punishment cannot be justified on the basis of its deterrent effect." [8]

Sub-point B: Cost

The death penalty is significantly more expensive than life without parole. As an example, Amnesty International finds [10]:

  • A 2003 legislative audit in Kansas found that the estimated cost of a death penalty case was 70% more than the cost of a comparable non-death penalty case. Death penalty case costs were counted through to execution (median cost $1.26 million). Non-death penalty case costs were counted through to the end of incarceration (median cost $740,000).
I'll conclude this section with what blamonkey wrote in my debate with him [11]:

The amount of waste that could be solved by switching to a life-without parole sentence, which is what I would favor, eliminates the inordinate amount of wasted funds that are not benefitting the people. Remember, we only promote the general welfare by using our funds to pose tangible benefits to the people. If alternatives are available that safeguard the public, we should pursue those instead. Moreover, by keeping people in jail instead of killing them, we have more time to commute their sentence if they are innocent.  

In light of the massive evidence before us, the death penalty is wholly immoral and fails as legal policy. I see no option but to abolish the death penalty. 


As the sun rises, and the townspeople awaken to the cries of the roosters, a horrid sight afflicts them. To the town’s dismay, a burnt-out pyre with the charred skeletal remains of a corpse bounded with scorched rope occupies the center of the town square. As the townspeople look around, they notice that Lunatic was absent. Eventually it dawned upon town that Lunatic had been burned at the stake. Outraged at this horrendous act, the townsfolk sought to bring the perpetrators to justice. However, no one knew who had committed this act. 
Lynched Last DP:
SupaDudz - Town - Vanilla
Died in the Night:
Lunatic - Town - Vanilla
SupaDudz - Town - Vanilla
Lunatic - Town - Vanilla
Living Players:
  1. Drafterman
  2. Speedrace
  3. WaterPhoenix
  4. GreyParrot
  5. irontoaster
  6. Virtuoso

Round 2
Wrong copy and paste? Lol 
Round 3
Extend my arguments as I have nothing to rebut. 
Round 4
Vote pro