Instigator / Pro

Resolved: On balance, the death penalty in the US does more harm than good.


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

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After 4 votes and with 13 points ahead, the winner is...

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Resolved: On balance, the death penalty in the US does more harm than good. 


Death penalty (from Merriam-Webster): death as a punishment given by a court of law for very serious crimes: capital punishment  


The burden of proof is shared. PRO must prove that the death penalty in the US does more harm than good. CON must prove that the death penalty in the US does more good than harm. 



-No Kritiks 

-No personal attacks 

-Focus only on the death penalty in the United States 



R1: Constructive arguments (no rebuttals) 

R2: Rebuttals/defense 

R3: Rebuttals/defense 

R3: Conclusion (no new arguments)

Round 1
Thank you, RationalMadman, for accepting this debate. 

I will aim to prove my case on two fronts, each of which will be split into several points. 

1. The death penalty does excessive harm. 

A. The death penalty is immoral and a violation of human rights. 
B. The death penalty, as it is currently applied, is racially discriminatory. 
C. The death penalty is irreversible and has executed innocent people. 

2. The death penalty does little good. 

A. The death penalty is ineffective in reducing crime. 
B. The death penalty does not save costs. 
Burden of Proof: 
The resolution is an “on-balance” debate, meaning the burden of proof is shared. As such, if I prove the death penalty does more harm than good, I win. The converse is true for my opponent. 
The definition of the main topic, the death penalty, is provided in the description. My opponent has agreed to this definition by accepting the debate. 
Contention 1: The death penalty does excessive harm. 

A. The death penalty is immoral and a violation of human rights. 

First, the death penalty is fundamentally immoral. We don’t punish rapists by raping them, nor arsonists by burning down their houses. One of the main purposes of criminal punishment is to keep society safe from offenders, a justification often made for the death penalty. However, life without parole (LWOP) achieves the same fundamental purpose.  

Second, the death penalty is a clear violation of human rights. According to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), “More than half of all prisoners currently sentenced to death in the U.S. have been on death row for more than 18 years.” [1] Furthermore, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has said that this long and torturous wait constitutes “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.” [2] 

Finally, even if the death penalty can be argued to be theoretically moral, in practice is it not. This brings me to my next point. 

B. The death penalty, as currently applied, is racially discriminatory. 

Obviously, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which is why I will rely on peer-reviewed, published, criminal justice studies in order to support my claim. 

According to a study published in the Harvard Law Review, in Georgia, people who are accused of killing white victims are 17 times more likely to be convicted than people accused of killing Black people. [3] 

Furthermore, according to the DPIC, in 96% of states studied, there was evidence of racial bias in death penalty sentencing. [4] 

Justice is supposed to be color-blind, and this is even more important when it comes to irreversible punishments like the death penalty. Unfortunately, as shown above, practice has clearly demonstrated this is not the case.

C. The death penalty is irreversible and has killed innocent people. 

Since 1973, over 190 people sentenced to the death penalty have been officially exonerated. [5] Of the over 1500 people who have already been executed, an unknown number (certainly greater than zero) were innocent.  

According to one study published in a peer-reviewed journal, 4.1% of people sentenced to death are likely innocent. [6] 

There are several specific cases in which there was compelling evidence of innocence, yet the defendants were executed anyway. For example, Cameron Willingham, who was executed in 2004 for a fire that killed his family, was likely innocent. The prosecution's case was built on outdated forensic methods and possibly perjured testimony. At least three arson experts later proclaimed that the fire was accidental. [8]
Contention 2: The death penalty does little good.

A. The death penalty is ineffective in reducing crime. 

One of the most widely cited justifications for the death penalty is its alleged effectiveness in reducing crime. I will aim to prove that this is a false and baseless assertion. 

Most murders are committed with little thought for the consequences – an obvious fact, since anyone thinking of them wouldn’t commit a murder. As such, no amount of extreme punishment is likely to have a deterrent effect. 

According to the New York Times, “during the last 20 years, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48 percent to 101 percent higher than in states without the death penalty.” [7]  

It is true that confounding factors that vary state-by-state might affect the homicide rate. However, according to Steve Messner, an accredited criminologist, “Whatever the factors are that affect change in homicide rates, they don’t seem to operate differently based on the presence or absence of the death penalty in a state.” [7]

B. The death penalty does not save costs. 

Another common argument for the death penalty is how it saves costs over LWOP. This, too, is a baseless argument. 

Hundreds of studies have been conducted across all 50 states aiming to assess the fiscal efficiency of the death penalty. Of these, almost every single one has proved that the death penalty is inefficient, costly, and wasteful. 

For example, according to a study conducted by the Palm Beach Post, each execution in Florida costs taxpayers a stunning $24 million, because of increased trial costs, as well as the extra appeals offered in capital cases. This $24 million per execution could have been better spent on important costs like education or healthcare, or improvement to the criminal justice system in general. 
In my lengthy opening speech (I promise future ones will be shorter), I have proved several important assertions about the death penalty. Namely, the death penalty is a violation of fundamental human rights, is racially biased, and has (and will) executed innocent people.  

Furthermore, I have also proven that the death penalty does minimal good – many of the purported “benefits” vanish when carefully examined. 
Concluding remarks: 
The death penalty has been shown to be immoral, racially discriminatory, and irreversible, as well as fiscally wasteful and an ineffective deterrent. With this in mind, it's clear that the death penalty does more harm than good.

By proving my case on two fronts, I have set up my framework for the rest of the debate, and fulfilled my side of the burden of proof. Vote PRO.



So, those who know my new style since a couplemonths back that has helped me climb the leaderboard, know that I am all about offense and attack. I dismantle, rebuke and win by that.

I therefore am going to structure this simply and focus entirely as the usual strat goes. Expect my Round 1 to be my simples and weakest. This is a 4-Rounder and round 1 disallows rebuttals.


Lesser evil? You sure it's prison? Lesser cost? Lesser anything?

Apart from the severe minority scenario where for a death-penalty crime an innocent is executed, the majority certainly are on completely guilty severe murderers, some states include rape for it right?

Prison costs more, puts people through a mental hell for a human being. We aren't like rats or hamsters, we arent rabbits... Humans need freedom and motivations, goals. Prison makes you a caged animal, incapable of experience that human freedom and the idea that you're going to go anywhere disappears too. So, people are pooled in with the worst psychopaths around (thankfully some of the worst are killed by death penalty but we're talking a world where they aren't yes? A US of A where they aren't). These psychopaths drive others to maim, rape, extort and even kill each other off. You learn to become a better criminal, a more disciplined sociopath. Prison conditions you to believe the world is unkind and merciless, infinitely more so than you believed when walking in.

Prison is the merciful option, you say? I say it's just a cost-heavy issue because you know the crimes people get death penalty for? Those are crimes you don't even walk out from, those are crimes you shouldn't walk out from. So rather than give you a life sentence, we kill you off faster. Is that so bad? Is it immoral? I don't think so.

Now, I know what the rebuttal will be here. Pro may or may not have mentioned it in Round 1 but I absolutely must preemptively address the rebuttal to flesh out my point. The rebuttal here is going to be that the cases are expensive, that investigating is expensive and that the level of how sure you need to be to have the death penalty ends up requiring lengthy cases and such... Okay. So, does that make it a net-detriment?

The thing is we are talking about keeping someone alive solely for the sake of seeming merciful when really we just keep them like a caged rodent until they die. An abused rodent at that.

I don't get it personally, I don't see the logic.


Death penalty as a deterrent.

The problem with death penalty as a deterrent type measures is that death penalty only applies to the most heinous crimes. In other words, generally speaking the most deranged and severe sociopaths and psychopaths will do what they will do at a similar rate regardless of consequence (well maybe they'd fear severe torture but we are too humane to give that). So, obviously if you measure death penalty as a deterrent, you are saying the most severe end of murders and in some cases rapes if that is death-penalty triggering in the State's laws, happen at a similar rate regardless. This isn't me replying to Pro, i intentionally skimread Pro's arguments, I am just presuming here, to avoid accidentally rebutting to accurately.

If I am right, it's by accident. Also, another point to consider is that you are basically admitting that people are more terrified of prison than the death penalty which adds to the futility of prison. Prison is hell for people, it doesn't rehabilitate people to walk out better in the US system (this isn't some ultra-humane modern Nordic prison system we are talking about).

So what exactly is a 'deterrent'? If people don't fear dying, short of severe torture you can't really deter that level of psychopath or sociopath, that's just a given. We can only 'deter' positively for them, give them incentives to not want to do crime and function in a law-abiding way (such as opportunities to climb the corporate ladder, which they seem to love doing).

That being said, I wonder what exactly would qualify as a valid deterrent to people saying the death penalty insufficiently deterred. Like how are you measuring that? Did you rerun the same period of history in the same states to know?

I am literally kritiking deterrence-measuring altogether. You can't measure how well death penalty deters becasue the crimes it applies to are inherently for the most deranged criminals that don't respond sanely to deterrence. The objective is justice and cost-effective 'get rid of them' rather than maintaining a life sentence for them.


I literally need to rebut Pro to continue further, my case's crux is in rebuttals. I just can't build more of a case without proving Pro wrong. 

The point is that the harms of Death Penalty are nearly an illusion or if they are wrong with the system, prison is more wrong along the lines the death penalty is. Like is the issue wrongful incarceration? Well, what better motive to push for improved methods to never ever wrongly incarcerate than keeping the death penalty? think like a hardcore strategist, the death penalty isn't the thing at fault in the situations it's costing, the system is.
Round 2
Thank you, RationalMadman for your response. 
Quick note: I noticed you expressed some frustration with the debate structure in your response. Most of my debate experience comes from PF debate, in which the first two speeches are solely constructive. I know this seems unusual, but I thought it was a fair rule in order to counter the contender’s advantage of having the last word in the debate. I thank my opponent for his gracious conduct in adhering to the agreed structure. 
Preamble: I will structure my response into two parts. First, I will rebut my opponent’s main contentions, and second, I will extend my own. 

Part 1: My opponent’s claims are irrelevant, if not downright untrue. 

OC 1:

My opponent’s first contention was life without parole (LWOP) is just as bad, if not worse, than the death penalty for prisoners. However, I will show that this is a false assertion

When considering a complex question impacting a group of people, usually the easiest way to find the answer isn’t to have grand philosophical debates, but to ask that group of people. 

In 2003, Ilinois governor George Ryan commuted death sentences of 167 inmates into LWOP. A court ruled he had overstepped his authority, since he hadn’t received formal petitions for clemency from the prisoners. As a result, he had to wait for the prisoners to choose their own fate: LWOP, or the death penalty.  

166 of the 167 prisoners (99.4%) requested LWOP over the death sentence. [1] 

The evidence is clear – LWOP is more humane and better for prisoners.  

Furthermore, LWOP gives prisoners a chance to change and amend. The criminal justice system should be forward focused – aiming to deter future criminals and rehabilitate those already convicted. 

A common argument for the death penalty, as my opponent mentioned, is that those convicted are the worst of the worst. However, what about those who aren’t? 

Renaldo Hudson, one of those whose death sentences were commuted in 2003, was convicted in 1990 for murder. He earned a bachelor’s degree in prison, became a tutor to fellow inmates, and created a peer mentorship program in order to help others avoid the same mistakes. [2] 

Violent crimes deserve severe punishment, but ultimately, we should support the punishment that gives opportunity for rehabilitation and amendment. 
OC 2:

My opponent’s second contention was somewhat rambling, but as far as I can tell, he is saying that it’s unfair to measure death penalty as a deterrent, since it only applies to a few profoundly serious crimes.  

This is true – I never said that CON had to prove that death penalty had to have a deterrent effect. The only reason I mentioned it in my opening speech is to show that my opponent’s side has less impact – not only the death penalty does great harm, but it also does little good. 

My opponent is making an effective constructive argument, that is irrelevant to the resolution and my arguments. Basically, what I am saying here, is that we are spending an enormous amount of resources and effort for an inhumane sentence that has little benefit in either deterrence or cost. 

In addition, my opponent also said, “The objective is justice and cost-effective 'get rid of them' rather than maintaining a life sentence for them.”  Both reasons for the death penalty are wrong: the death penalty is certainly not justice (1A, 1B, 1C), and it is also not cost-effective (2B). 

OC 3:
My opponent’s conclusion, although not really a contention, deserves to be addressed. 

“the harms of death penalty are nearly an illusion” - So innocents being executed, racial bias in sentencing, human rights violations, and complete waste of taxpayer money is an illusion? I look forward to my opponent’s proof of this, although I have many public policy studies on my side. 

“prison is more wrong along the lines the death penalty is” - Refuted previously. 

“Like is the issue wrongful incarceration? Well, what better motive to push for improved methods to never ever wrongly incarcerate than keeping the death penalty?” - This is a worrying line of thinking – Create a serious problem, then try to fix it later? Why not just abolish the death penalty and use the saved taxpayer money to reduce wrongful incarcerations? 

“think like a hardcore strategist, the death penalty isn't the thing at fault in the situations it's costing, the system is.” - Right... so the death penalty, which I have proved to cause extreme harm, “isn’t at fault.” Also, if the system is broken, why not fix one of the most broken parts of it? 

Part 2: I have upheld my side of the burden of proof, and as such, will extend my contentions. 

I extend all my contentions. In addition, I will focus on 1C and 2B in response to my opponent’s arguments. 

One main reason that LWOP should be favored over the death penalty is the option of setting free innocent people – something that can’t be done with the death penalty.  

As mentioned in my opening speech, about 4.1% of people sentenced to death are innocent – and this is a conservative estimate. 

Another main reason that LWOP is superior to the death penalty is the enormous cost advantage. As I noted in contention 2B, the death penalty is shockingly expensive. With the hundreds of millions of dollars saved, we could: 

  • Devote resources into solving cold cases 
  • Hire more public defenders 
  • Invest in rehabilitation programs 
  • Improve education in low-income areas 
  • Restructure training for police 
Instead of using taxpayer money in all these positive ways that bring a return on investment, we are wasting them on a pointless agenda of vengeance. 
In this response, I have thoroughly refuted my opponent’s constructive arguments, while also extending my own. In particular, I have shown why LWOP is better than the death penalty, and why my opponent’s case about deterrence-measuring being unfair is irrelevant. I have also extended two of my main arguments, on innocent executions and excessive costs. 
And all other previous sources. 
Argument reference: 
1A: Violation of human rights 
1B: Racially discriminatory 
1C: Executes innocents 
2A: Ineffective as deterrent 
2B: Ineffective economically 

Contention 1: The death penalty does excessive harm. 

A. The death penalty is immoral and a violation of human rights. 

Okay so this was accidentally rebuked partly by my speech in Round 1 but I had little proof and little details (by design to avoid accidental specifics of rebuking seeming calculated). In short:

  • Prison in the US is generally a caged animal design, throwing people to make each other's life hell and the most nasty and deranged of criminals would be let into the prison system if they weren't execute, increasing how cruel it is.
  • Death penalty is a simple, bye-bye no more suffering solution to someone who'd spend life in prison and be a sociopath/psychopath with nothing to lose.
To make this clearer, let's just understand that what I'm saying here is this:

immoral and a violation of human rights. 
can be just as much, if not more so, about prison itself than the death penalty altogether. If anything, a life sentence in prison is a far nastier and crueller psychological torture than a swift execution with a chosen final meal.

In other words, the very concept of giving the ultimate justice/retribution  (life sentence can't be rehabilitative, it's a damn life sentence or at least 30 years, the intention is to rob them of a free, happy life).

Millions of Americans are incarcerated in overcrowded, violent, and inhumane jails and prisons that do not provide treatment, education, or rehabilitation. EJI is fighting for reforms that protect incarcerated people.

As prison populations surged nationwide in the 1990s and conditions began to deteriorate, lawmakers made it harder for incarcerated people to file and win civil rights lawsuits in federal court and largely eliminated court oversight of prisons and jails.1

Today, prisons and jails in America are in crisis. Incarcerated people are beaten, stabbed, raped, and killed in facilities run by corrupt officials who abuse their power with impunity. People who need medical care, help managing their disabilities, mental health and addiction treatment, and suicide prevention are denied care, ignored, punished, and placed in solitary confinement. And despite growing bipartisan support for criminal justice reform, the private prison industry continues to block meaningful proposals.2

Escalating Violence

The Constitution requires that prison and jail officials protect incarcerated people from physical harm and sexual assault. But facilities nationwide are failing to meet this fundamental duty, putting incarcerated people at risk of being beaten, stabbed, and raped.

Alabama’s Prisons Are Deadliest in the Nation
Over the last decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the level of violence in Alabama state prisons.
Alabama’s prisons are the most violent in the nation. The U.S. Department of Justice found in a statewide investigation that Alabama routinely violates the constitutional rights of people in its prisons, where homicide and sexual abuse is common, knives and dangerous drugs are rampant, and incarcerated people are extorted, threatened, stabbed, raped, and even tied up for days without guards noticing.
Serious understaffing, systemic classification failures, and official misconduct and corruption have left thousands of incarcerated individuals across Alabama and the nation vulnerable to abuse, assaults, and uncontrolled violence.3

Denying Treatment
The number of incarcerated people who have a mental illness is growing across the country, raising critical questions about using prisons instead of hospitals to manage serious mental health problems.

A tragic case in New York illustrates how prisons are failing to provide adequate mental health treatment.
More than half of all Americans in prison or jail have a mental illness.4 Prison officials often fail to provide appropriate treatment for people whose behavior is difficult to manage, instead resorting to physical force and solitary confinement, which can aggravate mental health problems.
More than 60,000 people in the U.S. are held in solitary confinement.5 They’re isolated in small cells for 23 hours a day, allowed out only for showers, brief exercise, or medical visits, and denied calls or visits from family members. Studies show that people held in long-term solitary confinement suffer from anxiety, paranoia, perceptual disturbances, and deep depression. Nationwide, suicides among people held in isolation account for almost 50% of all prison suicides, even though less than 8% of the prison population is in isolation.6
The Supreme Court signaled in 2011 that failing to provide adequate medical and mental health care to incarcerated people could result in drastic consequences for states. It found that California’s grossly inadequate medical and mental health care is “incompatible with the concept of human dignity and has no place in civilized society” and ordered the state to release up to 46,000 people from its “horrendous” prisons.7
But states like Alabama continue to fall far below basic constitutional requirements. In 2017, a federal court found Alabama’s “horrendously inadequate” mental health services had led to a “skyrocketing suicide rate” among incarcerated people. The court found that prison officials don’t identify people with serious mental health needs. There’s no adequate treatment for incarcerated people who are suicidal. And Alabama prisons discipline people with mental illness, often putting them in isolation for long periods of time.

Tolerating Abuse
Corruption and abuse of power among correctional staff runs rampant because prison officials are not held accountable for failing to protect incarcerated people.

The Murder of Rocrast Mack
A 24-year-old man was beaten to death by guards at Alabama’s Ventress Prison.
A handful of abusive officers can engage in extreme cruelty and criminal misconduct if their supervisors look the other way.  When violent correctional officers are not held accountable, a dangerous culture of impunity flourishes.
The culture of impunity in Alabama, and in many other states, starts at the leadership level. The Justice Department found in 2019 that the Alabama Department of Corrections had long been aware of the unconstitutional conditions in its prisons, yet “little has changed.” In fact, the violence has gotten worse since the Justice Department announced its statewide investigation in 2016.
Similarly, ADOC failed to do anything about the “toxic, sexualized environment that permit[ted] staff sexual abuse and harassment” at Tutwiler Prison for Women despite “repeated notification of the problems.”
In the face of rising homicide rates, Alabama officials misrepresented causes of death and the number of homicides in the state’s prisons. The Justice Department reported that Alabama officials knew that staff were smuggling dangerous drugs into prisons. But rather than address staff corruption and illegal activity, state officials tried to hide the alarming number of drug overdose deaths in Alabama prisons by misreporting the data.
Enriching Corporations
Private corrections companies are heavily invested in keeping more than two million Americans behind bars.

No Universal Decline in Mass Incarceration
Report from the Vera Institute of Justice shows “the specter of mass incarceration is alive and well.”
Mass incarceration is “an expensive way to achieve less public safety.”8 It cost taxpayers almost $87 billion in 2015 for roughly the same level of public safety achieved in 1978 for $5.5 billion.9 Factoring in policing and court costs, and expenses paid by families to support incarcerated loved ones, mass incarceration costs state and federal governments and American families $182 billion each year.10
Rising costs have spurred some local, state, and federal policymakers to reduce incarceration. But private corrections companies are heavily invested in keeping more than two million Americans behind bars.11
The U.S. has the world’s largest private prison population.12 Private prisons house 8.2% (121,420) of the 1.5 million people in state and federal prisons.13 Private prison corporations reported revenues of nearly $4 billion in 2017.14 The private prison population is on the rise, despite growing evidence that private prisons are less safe, do not promote rehabilitation, and do not save taxpayers money.
The fastest-growing incarcerated population is people detained by immigration officials.15 The federal government is increasingly relying on private, profit-based immigration detention facilities. 16 Private detention companies are paid a set fee per detainee per night, and they negotiate contracts that guarantee a minimum daily headcount, creating perverse incentives for government officials. Many run notoriously dangerous facilities with horrific conditions that operate far outside federal oversight.17
Private prison companies profit from providing services at virtually every step of the criminal justice process, from privatized fine and ticket collection to bail bonds and privatized probation services. Profits come from charging high fees for services like GPS ankle monitoring, drug testing, phone and video calls, and even health care.18
Many state and local governments have entered into expensive long-term contracts with private prison corporations to build and sometimes operate prison facilities. Since these contracts prevent prison capacity from being changed or reduced, they effectively block criminal justice and immigration policy changes.19
Round 3
Initial Focus:  
Ignoring all my arguments isn’t the sign of a good debater. Like seriously, my opponent has managed to ignore: 
  • My argument about racial bias in sentencing 
  • My argument about executions of innocent people 
  • My argument about increased costs 
My opponent has also ignored the following rebuttals: 
  • My argument pointing out the deterrence argument from him is a non-sequitur 
  • My argument showing that LWOP gives people the chance to change 
  • My argument showing that prisoners overwhelmingly prefer LWOP over the death penalty  
This is an on-balance debate, and the burden of proof is shared – so my opponent can’t go for the old strategy of attacking the weakest argument. 

My opponent has also substituted an entire article from an accredited organization instead of making an actual argument, which, while properly credited, is poor and lazy form at best (especially considering he didn’t even fix formatting after copy-pasting). 
I will rebut my opponent’s case, and in doing so, will defend my own claims. I will then throw in a short extension of my claims. 
Rebuttals, point-by-point: 

All quotes are directly from my opponent’s argument, unless mentioned otherwise.  

“Prison in the US is generally a caged animal design, throwing people to make each other's life hell and the most nasty and deranged of criminals would be let into the prison system if they weren't execute, increasing how cruel it is.” 

I will counter this with two points. 

First, my opponent has ignored the fact that isolation, typical for death row inmates, is just as cruel and wrong. According to a report from the ACLU, prisoners are kept in solitary confinement, often in tiny cells, for decades. They are also deprived of human interaction and religious studies, two factors that have been shown to have a positive effect on inmates. [1] This violates international human rights norms, as proven by the DPIC. [2] 

Second, my opponent is falsely giving the impression that death row inmates will induce violent tendencies in people who will be released back into society. In reality, if the death penalty was abolished, then death row inmates would be put back with LWOP prisoners – both of whom had committed similar magnitudes of crimes. In fact, many people serving LWOP have committed worse crimes than those in death row, but have received a lighter punishment because of a variety of unrelated factors, including: 

  • Race (see contention 1B) 
  • Better representation 
  • More lenient judge 
  • Being convicted in counties with looser laws 
  • Etc. 
“Death penalty is a simple, bye-bye no more suffering solution to someone who'd spend life in prison and be a sociopath/psychopath with nothing to lose.” 

I will also counter this in two ways. 

First, it’s not a “simple, bye-bye no more suffering solution.” It’s more expensive, violates human rights, and it’s also quite slow: on average, prisoners spend over a decade on death row – quite a few for over 30 years. [3] 

Second, my opponent ignores my previous rebuttal about the opportunity for prisoners to change and redeem themselves. Enough said (until he actually responds). 

If anything, a life sentence in prison is a far nastier and crueller psychological torture than a swift execution with a chosen final meal.” 

Usual two-point counter... ya’ll know the drill. 

First, as I showed in my second round response, prisoners overwhelmingly prefer LWOP, due to the vastly improved quality of life (human companionship, religious studies, prison amenities, etc.) Yes, LWOP has problems – no, this does not negate the incredible harm of the death penalty. 

Second, it’s certainly not a “swift execution” as I showed earlier – it's a long, psychologically torturous and inhumane wait. 

“In other words, the very concept of giving the ultimate justice/retribution  (life sentence can't be rehabilitative, it's a damn life sentence or at least 30 years, the intention is to rob them of a free, happy life).”’ 

My opponent may be incapable of reading my previous arguments – if this is happening, RM, please DM me and I will be happy to send them to you. 

First, it’s not justice or retribution: it sends the worrying message that killing is OK if the government does it. 

Second, a life sentence can be rehabilitative – prisoners have the change to improve, to make a positive impact in prison, and in a rare few cases, be pardoned and released. 

“[Gish gallop from Equal Justice Initiative]” 

The vast majority of this is largely irrelevant. Again, the only thing that matters to this debate is the harm vs. good of the death penalty, and the ethics of the alternative, LWOP.  

The source that my opponent gave addresses the entire Alabama prison system – obviously terrible and in need of reform, but what does this have to do with the death penalty? 

Furthermore, the same source that my opponent used, EJI, also shows how terrible the death penalty is: see source number 4.  

Extension and elaboration: 

I extend all my earlier arguments – if my opponent doesn’t answer them by the next round, I will consider them conceded. 

The argument about LWOP vs the death penalty is largely irrelevant if my opponent doesn’t address the issue of the enormous costs saved by dropping the death penalty. It’s clear by now that the enormous good that could be done with the saved money far outweighs any potential benefit to keeping the death penalty (which I have refuted anyway). 

Furthermore, I also show that for the death penalty, the inhumane wait time is so long that it is, basically a de facto life sentence – only it ends with execution. So what’s the difference, you might ask? Well, just the simple matter of the violation of human rights, the increased cost, the risk of executing innocent people – the usual stuff. 

Summary (TLDR):

I extend my previous arguments, which my opponent is ignoring. Furthermore, I make a crucial and important point:

The death penalty is simply a more cruel, inhumane, and expensive version of LWOP - this point alone negates most of my opponent's arguments.

In this response, I have: 
  • Pointed out that my opponent is ignoring many of my contentions. 
  • Decisively refuted my opponent’s contentions 
  • Set up a framework for the upcoming rounds. 

And all other sources from previous rounds. 

Round 4
I. Extensions 

I extend all my previous arguments, since my opponent has failed to convincingly refute any of them. 

In particular, my arguments regarding the increased cost of the death penalty, as well as how the death penalty is in effect a more inhumane life sentence, are important to note. 

II. Final Focus

1. Arguments 

In the 1st round, I made several important constructive arguments as part of the framework of the debate. These included how the death penalty violates human rights, is racially biased, and has executed innocent people. I also, in advance, negated my opponent’s potential arguments regarding cost and deterrence.

My opponent failed to respond to most of these contentions, and instead argued that LWOP would be a worse alternative to the death penalty. 

In the 2nd round, I refuted my opponent’s main argument by showing that prisoners, those affected by LWOP or the death penalty, greatly preferred the death penalty. I also showed that LWOP gives a chance for rehabilitation. Finally, I noted that my opponent’s argument regarding deterrence was irrelevant and did not help his case. 

My opponent again ignored most of my arguments and repeated the same refuted argument regarding LWOP vs the death penalty. He also then pasted an article from EJI which was mostly irrelevant, and failed to address my main points. 

In the 3rd round, I refuted my opponent’s arguments and extended my own. 

My opponent forfeited this round. 

Throughout the debate, I have shown more convincing arguments, and refuted all of my opponent’s main contentions.  

For arguments, vote PRO. 

2. Sources 

In all three of the rounds, I have used several reliable and accredited sources to show statistics and examples that back up my argument. These include DPCI, a nonprofit organization known for its accuracy, several peer-reviewed studies published in reputable journals, and multiple secondary sources to establish publicly known information. 

In contrast, my opponent has only used one source, from EJI, and critically, used it in an ineffective way – not only was it irrelevant, the very same organization also campaigns against the death penalty with equal vigor. 

For sources, vote PRO. 

3. Spelling and Grammar 

I think this one leans towards me, considering I had better organization and readability, but not enough to justify a vote. 

For spelling and grammar, vote TIE. 

4. Conduct 

According to this website’s voting policy (, “The disrespect of even a single forfeiture necessitates this penalty unless there is reason to withhold it.” 

For conduct, vote PRO. 

III. Concluding remarks 

Thank, you, RationalMadman, for participating in this debate with me. It was my first debate, and I’m still relatively inexperienced, so I’m grateful for the chance to debate with an experienced user. 

If anyone watching this debate is interested in debating with me on this same topic, send me a DM. 

I got bodied here.

Topic is very hard to win as Con but on top of that, Pro brought their absolute A-game.

Gg, I concede not that it would matter as I lose even if I try.