House: Against (Con)
This house believes that we should NOT have the death penalty.
“As superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary, I planned and carried out that state’s only two executions in the last 54 years I used to support the death penalty. I don’t anymore… I was charged with executing two inmates on the penitentiary’’ death row, Douglas Franklin Wright and Harry Charles Moore… Regardless of their crimes, the fact that I was now to be personally involved in their executions forced me into a deeper reckoning with my feelings about capital punishment. After much contemplation, I became convinced that, on a moral level, life was either hallowed or it wasn’t. And I wanted it to be… Since I retired from corrections in 2010, my mission has been to persuade people that capital punishment is a failed policy. America should no longer accept the myth that capital punishment plays any constructive role in our criminal justice system. It will be hard to bring an end to the death penalty, but we will be a healthier society as a result.”
-Semon Frank Thompson
Former Superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary
“What I Learned from Executing Two Men,”
Sep. 15, 2016
The For (Pro) house said, "Every day we put animals down and don't even think twice so why is it that when it comes to people it so different... One reason is that most people get the death penalty is because they killed other people first. So say a person kills three people. Is it not fair to kill them because they killed three people."
Is our life value no more than an animal's? Is it morally ethical to take life as punishment for taking another's life? Would it not be more efficient to make the offender dedicate his life to paying back his debt; and if he is prone to killing again then to take the opportunity for physiological research? Are we any better than the man who took another's life? It is morally contradicting.
“No one can blame victims and their families for wanting revenge, including through the death penalty. In their pain and loss, they are entitled to that desire. However, laws exist to prevent individuals from pursuing vengeance and their own vision of justice. If they do anyway (if, for example, a victim kills a perpetrator) then they become perpetrators and pay the price, both legally and morally. Although we may feel empathy with such a victim seeking revenge, Nietzsche’s warning—that when fighting monsters you must take care not to become one yourself—should be remembered. Killing by the state is wrong as well, potentially even worse than killing by an individual…"
-Ivan Simonovic, PhD, LLM
Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect
“Introduction: An Abolitionist’s Perspective,” in Moving Away from the Death Penalty
Aug. 31, 2015
The For (Pro) house also stated, "But when it comes to family we want them to get it. Why why is it that when a person that is in our family is killed we want them dead. The reason why is because we love our family and we want the best for them. But I still believe that it is not fair that the death penalty should go."
Not only morally but constitutionally, it is wrong to kill a man as a form of punishment for the family's loss. "No national interest can justify human rights violations such as the death penalty or torture." (-Ivan Simonovic) Is it not hypocritical to lawfully say a family cannot take revenge and then take the man's life as a form of justice?