Instigator / Pro

Resolved: The US should abolish the death penalty


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

Winner & statistics
Better arguments
Better sources
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Better conduct

After 5 votes and with 3 points ahead, the winner is...

Publication date
Last updated date
Number of rounds
Time for argument
Three days
Max argument characters
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Multiple criterions
Voting system
Contender / Con

The round structure should be fairly straightforward.
Do not post any new arguments in the final round, but rebuttals in the final round are fine.
If there are any questions, I am just a PM away.

With that said...

Round 1
Thank you for the debate! I am sure that my esteemed opponent and I will put on quite a show.


Debates concerning the welfare of the people must adhere to the idea of consequentialism, where we judge the actions of an imposed rule by the impact they have on the population. The reason that we do this is due to the actor in the resolution (16). The US government has the duty, under Article 1 Section 8 of the constitution to promote the general welfare of the US citizens (1). Ergo, the consequences of my plan and contentions should be weighed against my opponent’s to see who poses more tangible benefits to the people.


Death penalty – “Death as a punishment given by a court of law for very serious crimes.” (2)


I offer an alternative to the death penalty via a system by which people who are on death row, and all subsequent serious arrests that would typically warrant the death penalty, would have their sentences changed to life-in-prison without parole instead.

C1: Bias in the System

A. Voire Dire

The Voir Dire system is what we use to select juries for trials in the US. It consists of a large group of potential jurors in front of a judge, the defense team, as well as the prosecution. Both the prosecution and defense use their leverage to exclude certain potential jurors from the final jury. To do this, lawyers have 2 options. They could either challenge for a cause by excluding a potential juror and giving an explanation as to why the person is not able to give a fair verdict; Or, both teams could use their peremptory strikes which eliminates a juror without a needed explanation (3). While a SCOTUS decision did rule it unlawful for lawyers to use their peremptory strikes to remove potential jurors because of race, and demand that a race neutral reason is given if it seems that a lawyer specifically excluded someone because of their race, there are plenty of ways around this obstacle that jurors use. A 2004 Prosecutor Trial Skills Course handbook offered a list of race neutral reasons that judges accepted including:

2 jurors were obese, which the prosecutor felt was equivalent to being lenient on punishment
Male had a 1970’s hairdo
Juror wore Bad Boy’s club jacket, snakeskin belt, and pink hat (LOL)
Juror wore a Malcom X hat. (4)

The flaws within this system has led to the perpetuation of all-white juries which pervert justice and send innocent people to the electric chair. In 2010, the Equal Justice Initiative investigated instances in which black people were intentionally excluded from the jury process for no other reason besides their race. In fact, in certain counties such as Houston, Alabama, over 80% of black people who were otherwise qualified for jury duty were exempt (5). These findings were mirrored by Reprieve Australia in 2015. They found that the Caddo Parish in Louisiana and found that nearly ¼ of all trials contained less than 2 black jury members (6). The lack of black jurors is not a miscalculation by lawyers, the answer is far more sinister. The EJI report furthers, explaining that in certain counties, including Houston, Alabama, prosecutors:
“…maintained a decades-long policy of systematically excluding African Americans from
jury service in criminal cases and codified it in a training manual.” (5)

The National Registry of Exonerations at the University of California-Irvine in 2017 found that 40% of defendants imprisoned for murder are black, and yet they account for 50% of all exonerations (7). This disparity indicates that implicit bias against black people is still prominent in the legal system. How do all-white juries contribute to the issue? Duke University conducted a study to answer that question in 2012. Researchers examined over 700 felony cases and found that all-white juries are 16% more likely to convict black defendants when compared to a racially diverse counterpart (8).

B. Public Defenders

Those convicted of serious crimes that warrant the death penalty are usually not wealthy. So, instead of relying on lawyers from private firms, they instead rely on public defenders, which offer a sub-par defense. The reason that public defenders often cannot do their job competently stems from a shortage of them. When there is a shortage of public defenders, each individual public defender must pick up a strenuous caseload, limiting the amount of time and resources that they can dedicate to each case. In cities such as Detroit, Atlanta, and New Orleans, public defenders have under an hour to prepare a case before going to trial according to Mother Jones (10). Also, due to low salaries, public defender positions attract less qualified attorneys, and those that do take the job do not stay for long. In 2017, according to Jacksonville magazine, Florida saw 1/5 of their prosecutors and public defenders leave for better, higher paying law firms (13). Many are forced into plea deals by their defense team because public defenders are not able to adequately argue a case. So, someone could be completely innocent of all charges and be forced to take a lesser penalty. In fact, when the Missouri State University conducted a mock trial with 382 undergraduates playing the role of innocent defendants in a plea-bargaining scenario where the possibility of losing a case was given to each participant in the study. When the possibility of losing was 90%, most students opted to take a false guilty plea instead of having the trial play out (11). Under the threat of death and seemingly impossible odds, many would want to take a lesser sentence to avoid the death penalty altogether.
Not every innocent person is acquitted. In fact, wrongful executions have become a major problem in the US. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in 2014 conducted a study using survivor analysis which conservatively estimated that 4.1% of death row inmates are innocent at any given time (9). By killing innocent Americans, we distort justice, which is contrary to the duty of the US government. We allow for a system that regularly churns out all-white juries and inefficient defense to decide the fate of all Americans. If we want to promote the general welfare, then we need a criminal justice system that is “just” and not criminal.

C2: Cost

In economics classes, the first thing that students learn is the concept of the opportunity cost. If I spend $10 on dark-chocolate Milky Way bars, then I cannot spend that $10 anywhere else. This creates an imposed cost of $10. When people’s tax dollars are being spent, we care about opportunity costs because we do not want to waste the money that was given to us for the functioning of the government and to help the people who live in the US. Death penalty cases, however, waste too much money. The Urban Institute in 2008 estimates that the average capital case in which the death penalty was not sought costs $1.1 million. However, capital cases in which the death penalty is utilized could span between $1.8 - $3 million. Moreover, if the state of Maryland were to eliminate the death penalty, lifetime costs to Maryland taxpayers would decrease by $186 million (13). Loyola Law Review in 2011 came to the same conclusion in the state of California, estimating that over a span of 20 years, commuting and changing sentences so that those who were on death row instead receive life-without-parole sentences, Californians save $5 billion (14). These disparate costs being imposed on different types of cases is a feature of our system, not a flaw. Because people’s lives are at stake, there are more lawyers representing the defense and the prosecution. Appeals for guilty verdicts are frequently used. Most of all, compensation for capital crimes is higher than other types of cases. The Marshall Project notes that experts and scientific methods of collecting DNA also drive up the price in comparison to year’s past. Moreover, they find that the number of hours spent on capital cases has nearly doubled to over 3,000 per death penalty case in the years between the years 1998 and 2004. For comparison’s sake, the average number of hours spent by attorneys on capital cases from 1989 to 1997 were roughly 1,900 (15).
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.  


I would like to thank blamonkey for this debate. I’m excited to be debating someone as strong as you! I negate the resolution, the United States should not abolish capital punishment.

I. Value Objection: Justice

What is justice? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines justice as “the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments.” The criterion that I use to evaluate whether or not a punishment is just is proportionality, in other words, the punishment ought to be in proportion to what the crime was.

Proportionality is an important legal doctrine in the United States. In Graham v. Florida the Supreme Court ruled that that juveniles cannot be sentenced to life in prison for non-homicidal crimes because it is disproportionate. [1]

There are 5 primary objective goals of the criminal justice system: (1) retribution; (2) deterrence; (3) rehabilitation; (4) incapacitation; and (5) restoration. [2] These goals can help guide us into determining an appropriate punishment. If a person was arrested for drugs, for example, then a just punishment would be to have them sent to an addiction rehabilitation center and get them the help they need. The death penalty meets the 1st, 2nd, and 4th goal. The death penalty serves as both a retribution for a heinous crime, serves as a deterrence, and makes sure that the guilty party can never kill again.

My opponent’s framework works nicely with my argument. The government does have a duty to protect the general welfare of the people. Therefore the government ought to do that which is just and punish crime proportionally.

Observation 1: The resolution

The word should denotes moral obligation. Do we (the United States) have a moral obligation to abolish the death penalty? If I can justify the death penalty in even one case or rare and extreme cases then repealing the death penalty would ensure that justice in those cases can never be properly done.

II. The Plan

My opponent has done a fairly decent job highlighting some of the flaws that currently exist in the status quo. My plan is to overhaul and significantly reform the death penalty to make it cheaper and far more effective. First the death penalty should be reserved for the most heinous crimes in which there can be no doubt who the guilty party is (i.e. Ted Bundy). Second we ought to do away with the endless appeals and speed up the execution process. Instead of being on death row for 7+ years, the process should be sped up to less than 2 years. This would mean that people like Bundy get executed not so long after their sentence.

III. The Attention Grabber

Let’s imagine an alternative scenario to the ending of WW2 where Hitler was captured and stood trial for his crimes. I ask the readers of this debate to consider what the just punishment should be for a person like Hitler and the Nazi soldiers? I’m sure no one here would have a problem with execution. But why? Because no other punishment would be proportionate to the crimes these Nazi monsters committed. Putting them in a prison for the rest of their life leaves open the possibility of them escaping, becoming a Nazi pilgrimage site, or even worse the possibility of a Nazi-friendly regime coming into power and pardoning these people.

>> Cross examination question to Pro: Would you have executed Hitler? If so, then you must concede that the death penalty is morally justified in at least some cases. If not then I ask what do you think a proper punishment for Hitler would be? <<

C1: The death penalty is just

As noted in my observation of the debate, if there are even some rare an extreme cases in which the death penalty is justified, then I have successfully negated the resolution. I contend that the death penalty should be reserved for the most heinous crimes that spark moral outrage such as mass shooters, terrorists, child rapists, terrorists, and the like.

Among the 5 goals of the justice system is deterring other people from committing the said crime. I will be giving 3 examples of crimes in which the death penalty was the only appropriate punishment.

(1) Dylann Roof is one of the most recent examples of a crime worthy only of death. In 2015 Roof opened fire on an African American church in hopes of inciting violence and starting a race war. [4] During an interview he bragged about being a psychopath and showed absolutely no remorse for his crimes. [5]

(2) Ted Bundy was a serial kidnapper and murderer who killed over 30 people. [5]

(3) Timothy McVeigh was a domestic terrorist who killed over 100 people and injured more than 600. [6]


These three examples show that the death penalty is often a necessary evil. Judge Alex Kozinski argues “Brutal facts have immense power.... Those who commit such atrocities, I concluded, forfeit their own right to live. We tarnish the memory of the dead and heap needless misery on their surviving families by letting the perpetrators live.”  [7] Edward Fesser writes: “to sentence killers like those described above to less than death would fail to do justice because the penalty – presumably a long period in prison – would be grossly disproportionate to the heinousness of the crime” [8]

C2: The death penalty ensures killers can never kill again

The death penalty ensures that heinous criminals like Roof Bundy, and McVeigh will never have the opportunity to escape and commit more crimes. Those release for murder have some of the highest recidivism rates. A Washington State study entitled Recidivism among Adult Felons found that murder has a 52% recidivism rate. [9] I will list 3 examples of murderers who were released and then killed again. [10]

(1) John McRae - Murderer and pedophile who killed an 8 year old boy. When he was paroled he killed again.
(2) Michael Lawrence - Killed a robbery victim, was paroled, and did it again.
(3) Edward Kennedy - escaped from prison and killed again.

With such a high recidivism and a strong change for escaped killers to kill again, why should we risk putting innocent lives at risk?


The death penalty is a morally justified punishment in at least a few cases. If we concede that the Nazi war criminals should have been executed, then it logically follows that the death penalty is morally justified. If it is morally justified in at least some cases then it should be left on the books and used for the most heinous of criminals like Roof, Bundy, and McVeigh. We have also seen how it prevents the worst of the worst from killing again. We need to use the death penalty in an effective manner to ensure safety of the innocent and to ensure that justice is properly done.

I leave this round with a syllogism:

P1: If the death penalty is sometimes morally justified then it should not be abolished
P2: The death penalty is sometimes morally justified
C1: Therefore the death penalty should not be abolished.

Thank you. I eagerly await your rebuttals.


Round 2
Good case. Rebuttal time!

Value Objection: Justice

My opponent’s competing framework relies on the objectives of the criminal justice system. He states that there are 5 objectives that the justice system aims to accomplish. The objectives that my opponent relates to capital punishment are retribution, deterrence, and incapacitation. While I do respect that these principles uphold justice in its abstract definition, we don’t discuss policy without applying it to the real world. By ignoring the practical harms that I discuss, we remove ourselves from what can and cannot help the people.
Virtuoso also establishes that the word “should” implies a moral imperative. Oxford Dictionary defines it differently.

Should - “Used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone's actions.”
“Indicating a desirable or expected state.” (1)

Where is the reference to moral imperatives? If the resolution had the word “ought,” then my opponent would be correct in his analysis. As it stands though, I see no reason to value moral principles over substantial, tangible benefits to the people.


My opponent asks us to reform the way that the death penalty is currently enforced through 2 policies.
1)      Reserve the death penalty for heinous crimes
2)      Keep people on death row for only 2 years and limits appeals

The first plank of his plan seems weird to me. Do we not use the death penalty exclusively for crimes bad enough to warrant death? What crimes are heinous enough to warrant the death penalty in my opponent’s plan? He later states that the following would be cases in which the death penalty is justified:
“… mass shooters, terrorists, child rapists, terrorists, and the like.”
“and the like” is not a precise indicator of what criminals should be sentenced. I am assuming that my opponent would not consider rapists to be as bad as terrorists, and yet I would describe both as heinous, which is the term that he used in his plan.

My opponent’s second plank would kill more innocent people. While factors such as the bias of the juries and the competence of public defenders play a role in determining the verdict of someone on death row, another factor plays an even bigger role in determining innocence or guilt and that would be time. The average amount of time spent in prison for DNA exonerees is 14 years according to the Innocence Project (2). By waiting no longer than 10 years, we send more innocent people to their demise. Moreover, 45% of DNA exonerations included the misapplication of forensic science. A field which is booming according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a 17% growth rate projected from the year 2016 to 2026 (3). With more of these forensic scientists comes the misapplication of their findings. Under my framework of promoting the general welfare, this plank falls because it unnecessarily leads to more death. Also, given the number of hours spent on a case, the hiring of more experts for a trial, and other cost-increasing factors, it is not reasonable to assume that costs will necessarily decrease enough to cost less
than a life-without-parole verdict.

The Hitler Question

I really do not see why this argument is topical. I am arguing that there are more benefits to the people by suspending the death penalty. Even if my opponent proves it is moral to kill certain people in certain circumstance, my points about innocent people dying ultimately outweighs.
The Death Penalty and Justice
It is a bold, but nonetheless false argument to suggest that by proving that the death penalty should be used in a few circumstances that the Con side automatically wins. While morality is tantamount to this debate, we still need to weigh the arguments of the Pro and the Con, which is something that I originally brought up in my framework.
“Ergo, the consequences of my plan and contentions should be weighed against my opponent’s to see who poses more tangible benefits to the people.” – Me in my first post.
Injustice occurs in wither world, whether due to wrongful executions, or due to some people deserving to die not being executed.  Besides, life in prison without parole is not an easy punishment either and may be more proportional to the crime in question as they live the rest of their lives behind bars. However, the possibility of recourse for people who are innocently convicted of heinous crimes still exists in my plan.

Guarantees that Killers Will Not Kill Again

My plan involves taking people off death row and putting them in prison for life without the chance of parole. Recidivism does not factor into my plan because those who are guilty will stay in prison, while those who are exonerated can leave. The other possibility that my opponent implies is the threat of escaped killers roaming the streets and slaughtering more people. While this is a common trope in horror movies, the possibility of escape is quite rare. USA Today in 2015 reports that between 2009 and 2013, only 1 person escaped a maximum-security prison, and only 9 escaped from minimum security or medium security prisons. All escapees were recaptured in a day. The same article also notes that New York corrections officials found that in 1983, there were over 20 escapees every year, which dropped to 1 a year in 2013 even as the state’s population expanded by 75% (4). The likelihood of a Jason-esque serial killer roaming the city of Manhattan and chopping people to bits is not an accurate one.


I am left with a single syllogism offered by my opponent that showcases the exact flaw that I find in his case. It is structured as follows.

P1: If the death penalty is sometimes morally justified then it should not be abolished

P2: The death penalty is sometimes morally justified

C1: Therefore the death penalty should not be abolished.

My major objection to this argument lies in P1, or his major premise. Just because something is sometimes justified does not mean that it should be used. In our current criminal justice system, even when considering my opponent’s plan, we still see significant biases in how juries are selected, how defense attorneys are selected, and how it burdens tax payers with inordinate costs. The voir dire system and problems with finding appropriate representation in court has not been addressed. Extend these arguments.

Weighing Impacts

My opponent offers very limited offense this round. Not only did he spend too much ink arguing for whether the death penalty is moral, he only offers one point that warrants a tangible impact to the people. He supposes that escaped convicts and those that are released will kill again. Not only did I show that my plan prevents those on death row from being released, but I also show that the possibility of escaped criminals is rather low, mitigating his impact. Compare this to the conservative estimate of 4.1% which represents the amount of people on death row who are innocent, and the slew of evidence suggesting bias throughout the criminal justice system pertaining to race and weak defense in court. Judges, Pro wins this debate.



I wish to thank my opponent for his willingness to restart the debate! I am looking forward to completing the debate! I will be using this round to respond to my opponent's opening arguments and then use the next round to defend my own. This way we both have one round for rebuttals and one round for defense. 

Re: Framework

As noted in my opening, I agree with my opponent's framework of consequentialism. The government's duty to protect the welfare of the people is utmost important. If abolishing the death penalty has the consequences of failing to perform that duty, then it should not be abolished and a vote for con is in order. 

Re C1: Bias in the System

A. Voire Dire

The current way in which the jury selection is used is deeply flawed in my opinion. Pro highlights some of these important issues. I agree that an all-white jury on an African American defendant is highly problematic. 

Counterplan: Rather than completely abolishing the death penalty, completely restructure the way in which jury selection is done. Do away with the death-qualified jury rule and ensure that at least half of the jury members are of the same race as the defendant. Moreover, it should be done that the judge should be the one deciding the penalty instead of the jury. This has some significant benefits. First, it will hold the judge accountable to the public. If the public disagrees with a verdict, the public has an opportunity to kick the judge out of office. This happened in California with the Brock Turner trial. Second, this puts a check and balance on the jury-judge relationship. The jury has the ability to decide guilty/not guilty and the judge has the ultimate say in the sentence. Third, it is much easier for the defense to launch an appeal against a judge with an overtly racist attitude than simply arguing that the jury was biased. 

B. Public Defenders

Firstly it is quite clear that my plan ensures that no innocent person is executed. By limiting the crimes in which a person is put to death, the death penalty is reserved for the most heinous criminals in which there is no case of doubt. If my opponent wants to argue that there is a possibility that Dylann Roof et al. have been wrongfully sentenced, then my opponent has the burden of proof to show that these obviously guilty people are actually innocent. 

Counterplan: First we need to get rid of plea bargaining. The plea bargain system allows the guilty to get a lesser punishment while forcing the innocent to plead guilty to avoid a costly trial. Second, we need to completely abolish all victimless crimes such as prostitution, drug possession, selling drugs, etc. We need to completely stop prosecuting such crimes. 86 percent of federal inmates are in prison for victimless crimes. This puts a huge strain on the prison population and on public defender cases. The Portugues drug law reform has proven to be a massive success in reducing violence related to drugs and the strain on the justice system. The advantages to this are huge. By getting these bull crap cases off the shoulders of public defenders, it allows them to focus on the most serious of crimes. Second, it allows the state to try the most serious of crimes properly. 

Re C2: Cost

The cost-benefit is easily dealt with under my plan. By lessening the time spent on death row and the time that is spent on the seemingly endless amounts of appeals, the cost will go way down. Remember that under my plan it would be virtually impossible to convict and execute an innocent person. Thus under my plan, Dylann Roof, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and Nidal Hasan would already have been dead. This ensures that a just punishment is carried out in the shortest amount of time with as little cost. 

Putting that aside, I wish to ask my opponent what price are we willing to pay that justice is done appropriately? If a just punishment is more expensive than an alternate unjust punishment, don't we have a moral obligation to go with the more expensive just sentence? 

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater

My opponent highlights some of the deep flaws within the justice system. I believe that the counterplans that I posted in this round provide a framework that justice is done properly and appropriately while reforming some of the issues in the justice system. My opponent's plan is essentially throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Rather than reforming some of the issues that will be present long after the death penalty is abolished, he wants to throw a just punishment out the window entirely. We ought to reject his arguments and restructure the justice system entirely to make sure that justice is done. 

Round 3
This round is going to consist mostly of crystallizing and defending my arguments. Without further ado, let’s go.

My opponent cedes that consequentialism should be the method that we use to determine who wins the debate. He drops his argument suggesting that if Con can prove one instance in which capital punishment is justified then he wins.

Voir Dire

My opponent offers a CP halfway into the debate. This is a clear instance of moving the goal posts halfway into the debate. His original plan included two policies that include reserving the death penalty for “heinous” crime and speeding up the appeals process for death row inmates. The inclusion of this plan and subsequent ones should be rejected by the judges because it forces me to allocate more character space and time to refute them.

Nevertheless, even without the violation of debate ethics, Pro still wins this point due to the lack of clarity and enforcement in his CP. My opponent never states what the death-qualified jury rule is. I am assuming that he is referring to one of the many flaws of the voir dire system that I mention. However, the latter portion of his plan creates a gargantuan skew that perverts justice. For one thing, judges are not representative of the people that they represent. With growing minority populations, it would be fair to assume that people on the bench reflect the changing America and include those that are black or Latino. Unfortunately, despite only accounting for 30% of the population, white men make up nearly 60% of judges according to Vanderbilt University in 2016 (1). Judges are not invulnerable to racial bias, and according to a study conducted by the Quarterly Journal of Economics, judges typically set bail 2.4% higher for black defendants. This percentage may seem infinitesimal, but a 2.4% increase means that bail is set higher by roughly $7,300 (2). Virtuoso assumes that judges are going to be held accountable for wrongful sentences due to people’s civic participation. It is at this point that I must ask the judges, readers, and my opponent the following question:

Who were the judges on your ballot in the 2018 midterm election?

If the answer is that you don’t know, then you have already proven my point. Don’t feel bad, I don’t know either, and neither does most of the US. Lack of knowledge about the judges on the ballot allows many to run uncontested. Crosscut, a local newspaper based in Seattle, WA in 2018 reports that of the 147 judges running, only 27 have opponents (3). In LA during the June 2014 election, 150 out of 151 incumbent judges ran unopposed (4). Resources that give extensive briefing on the pros and cons of each candidate are scant. Even if the resources that do exist, such as Ballotpedia and Vote411, are widely utilized, their information typically only goes as far as a brief bio and previous jobs that they had. Even highly publicized cases are unlikely to mention the judge or jury at all, focusing on the lawyers and the defendant. Also, considering the lack of public awareness in relation to bail being set higher for black defendants, it is fair to assume that a wrongful execution does not necessarily mean that people will pay attention.

Finally, the judge is usually the person that decides the penalty for criminal cases in the status quo (6). The plan literally continues the status quo and does nothing to aid Virtuoso’s case.

Public Defenders

Con asserts that no more innocent people will be executed under his plan because he limits the death penalty so that it is only used in “heinous” crimes. I have two responses.

Ignoring the vagueness within the original text of the plan, which I already mentioned in R2 and should be cross-applied here, my opponent’s plan still cannot account for the drought of adequate defense for the accused parties in the US. Due to budgetary constraints and a deluge of non-violent criminals, such as drug users, being put in prison, there is higher quantity demanded than there is quantity supplied, causing a rapidly worsening shortage. Cross-apply my evidence about lower wages and strenuous workloads causing high turnover rates, and thus less people who represent lower income defendants (7).
Second, my opponent creating another CP is yet another violation of debate ethics. Cross-apply my evidence suggesting that his CP is shifting the goal posts.

Finally, the details of the plan itself advocates for 2 more policies, including the abolition of laws targeting drug users, and the elimination of plea bargaining. The continued lack of pay prevents many from staying public defenders for long, while state budgetary constraints in regions that need public defenders limit hiring as well. The Council of State Governments illustrate the startling cuts taking place right now. North Carolina, for instance, faced an $11 million shortfall. Montana’s shortfalls were so bad, that the ACLU sued the state to provide people with indigent defense, while over 10 other states face legal challenges of their own relating to indigent defense budgets (8). Even if we get rid of the laws that penalize drug offenders, we still do not grant clemency to every single person convicted of a non-violent crime under Virt’s plan. Money is still used to feed and clothe people in prison, which means declining resources still present us with the problem of weakened representation for poor defendants.


Cross-apply my analysis explaining why the CP is a violation of debate ethics and a logical fallacy referred to as “moving the goalposts.”
Even if you do not buy my argument proving that my opponent moved the goal post, also cross-apply my evidence from R2 that indicates that more innocent people will be put to death. Remember, lack-of-time is a major contributing factor toward wrongful executions, as evident by the average wait time for those on death row to be 17 years before being exonerated via DNA evidence (5). Originally, Virtuoso asked that death row inmates wait no longer than 2 years before being executed. If we wait for no longer than 2 years, then people will inevitably be wrongfully executed.

Also, the use of more experts, technological innovation, and the amount of time spent on a trial has increased over the years as evident from my Marshall Project card (9). By setting a limit on the appeals process, we do not necessarily decrease the cost enough to be on par with a life-in-prison sentence.

My opponent asks about the moral qualms of not killing a killer. This eye-for-an-eye perspective is, in my eyes, a non-substantial argument in comparison to the thousands who will die wrongfully because of the death penalty. Is it perfectly moral to kill innocent people? Under my opponent’s paradigm of proportional punishment, the answer would be no.

Voting Issue 1: Innocents Killed

Due to bias in the current system that:
a)      Cannot be addressed by my opponent unless he shifts the goal posts and
b)      Cannot be solved by his proposed ideas even if he could use a CP halfway into the debate,
We see that innocents will likely die. Under the agreed framework of consequentialism and fulfilling the role of government, we scan easily observe the violation of government’s duty to protect us. This does not promote the general welfare, and instead suspends justice for the accused.

Voting Issue 2: Cost

Taxpayers should not have their money mishandled or wasted. The US government is supposed to use that money to benefit the people within the government. Without enough evidence suggesting that people will escape punitive action through jailbreaks, there should be no reason that we look toward the alternative of sentencing people to life in prison without parole instead.

Voting Issue 3: Justice

Turn this impact, because wasting taxpayer money and killing innocent people is unjust in that it does not fulfill government obligations of protecting the people.


Thank you for this debate. I have thoroughly enjoyed it! There's little to defend here in my case as pro failed to respond to the crux of my arguments. There's a lot that pro drops and fails to respond to. 

Value Objection: Justice

My opponent's attempt at semantics kinda proves my point that should denote at least some moral duty. His definition of should is "Used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone's actions" Pay attention to the word obligation. Do we have an obligation (i.e. a moral duty) to abolish the death penalty or not? This is the sense in which I define should as denoting moral duty. In fact, should and ought are often interchangeable and are considered to be synonyms by the Merriam-Webster dictionary

My opponent's argument that morals have nothing to do with this debate is flat out wrong. 

The Hitler Question

The Hitler question is very relevant to this debate as this is a discussion on the state's moral obligation to do justice. In my opening speech I asked Pro whether or not he would have executed Hitler, and if not, what a just punishment should be. Pro completely failed to answer this question so in this sense he completely drops the point that sentencing Hitler to death is a justified punishment. 

The impact: As I noted in my syllogism if there are times in which the death penalty is a just punishment, then it should not be repealed. My opponent accepts the point about the death penalty being just in at least some cases (as he mentioned his only problem is the first premise). By repealing the death penalty, as I argued, it would prohibit justice from being carried out. 

C1: The death penalty is just

This point is completely dropped. Please extend across the board.

C2: Guarantees that Killers Will Not Kill Again

My opponent has failed to respond to the crux of the argument. One of my examples is a person who did escape and killed again. I could have cited other examples but chose not to. Further even one person escaping and killing (as that happened) is enough to warrant that they are put to death to make sure that they will never be able to kill again.  

Weighing Impacts and Voting Issues

Recall the syllogism I posted

P1: If the death penalty is sometimes morally justified then it should not be abolished
P2: The death penalty is sometimes morally justified
C1: Therefore the death penalty should not be abolished.

P2 has conclusively been proven as Pro completely concedes. I've shown why p1 is true and now we are left with the inevitable conclusion: the death penalty should not be repealed. A vote for CON is in order. 

Thank you. Please vote con!