Good case. Rebuttal time!
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
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
“… mass shooters, terrorists, child rapists, terrorists, and
“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
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.
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
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.
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.