Death penalty arguments against

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AmeliaF
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I'm Vice President of my schools debate club but I can't help but feel it was a consolation prize. As such I really want to redeem myself with my first debate topic.
I'm looking for unique arguments against and rebuttles for the yes it's a good idea side.
Any ideas?
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Farm_Ecology
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Ultimately it depends on what you want the justice system to do.

If you want the justice system to exact revenge on behalf of the individual, then it probably is a good thing to have capital punishment.

If however, you want the justice system to reduce crime, then Capital Punishment works against it. The best argument, as always, is statistics.
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Beth_H
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Most of the specific arguments against the death penalty (aside from the universal idea that it's wrong to kill people, and that the state shouldn't get to decide who does or does not deserve to live) are based on its use in the US, although I'm sure that many of them apply to other countries as well:

- It's not a deterrent: crime rates are equal to and sometimes higher than countries/states which do not have the death penalty, meaning that it doesn't do anything to prevent violent crime, which was a large part of the reason for introducing it.

- It's no less expensive than imprisonment: most offenders sentenced to the death penalty are kept on 'death row' for an extensive period of time, countering the common argument that the death penalty saves the state money in comparison to a life sentence.

- It's discriminatory: there is compelling evidence to suggest that a black person is more likely to be sentenced to death than a white person convicted of exactly the same crime. You're also more likely to receive the death penalty if you happen to be poor. There are people who view the death penalty as essentially being a form of state sanctioned eugenics.

- It can be a barrier to a trial: many countries will not extradite a defendant to a country where there is a risk that they will face the death penalty, which can prevent that person from being tried at all if the country seeking extradition refuses to guarantee that capital punishment won't be used.

It punishes the offender's family more than the offender themselves: if you subscribe to the view that retribution should be a principal focus of the justice system, you might resent that people who commit heinous crimes are given what might be seen as an easy way out. Indeed, there are a number people who would prefer to die than to be given a life sentence. Meanwhile, the offender's family and friends are made to face the grief of losing a loved one, while they themselves have done nothing wrong.

- It's pretty hypocritical: say, for example, that a person is being tried for murder, and immediately after the 'guilty' verdict is announced, a member of the jury picks up a gun and shoots the defendent dead. That juror would be arrested and tried for murder themselves. Yet, had that defendent been sentenced to death, they would have died anyway. Why, then, should government officials be above the law? What gives them the right to take the life of another, when the average citizen cannot?

- Public support is declining: the exact numbers vary, but national surveys in the US have found that public support for the death penalty has been consistently declining since at least the 1990s. The consensus is that very soon (or already, if you favour Pew Research's poll over Gallup's) the majority of Americans will not support the death penalty.
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QE2
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Miscarriages of justice.
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Ash1597
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Reform, if you kill a criminal, there's no chance for them to get better and become better members of society
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tazarooni89
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(Original post by Farm_Ecology)
If however, you want the justice system to reduce crime, then Capital Punishment works against it. The best argument, as always, is statistics.
Which statistics suggest that introducing capital punishment would work against the reduction of crime? What would the reason for it be?
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Dez
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(Original post by Beth_H)
- It's no less expensive than imprisonment: most offenders sentenced to the death penalty are kept on 'death row' for an extensive period of time, countering the common argument that the death penalty saves the state money in comparison to a life sentence.
The increased costs of a death sentence versus an imprisonment sentence (at least under the US system) are mainly from the additional appeals required. A convict on death row has to go through the courts several times before actually being executed, whereas the appeals process for someone serving a life sentence are generally not as stringent.

(Original post by tazarooni89)
Which statistics suggest that introducing capital punishment would work against the reduction of crime? What would the reason for it be?
One of the reasons is that it makes criminals more desperate. If they know they'll be killed if they get caught, a fugitive will be more willing to commit further crimes in order to escape justice.
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Beth_H
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(Original post by Dez)
The increased costs of a death sentence versus an imprisonment sentence (at least under the US system) are mainly from the additional appeals required. A convict on death row has to go through the courts several times before actually being executed, whereas the appeals process for someone serving a life sentence are generally not as stringent.



One of the reasons is that it makes criminals more desperate. If they know they'll be killed if they get caught, a fugitive will be more willing to commit further crimes in order to escape justice.
Ah, good point, I'd forgotten about the appeals process.
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Underscore__
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It’s more than just the appeals process. Death row is a much more expensive wing of a prison to maintain, you tend to have more witnesses, longer and more thorough jury selection.

Obviously not an objective source but this website breaks it down quite well: https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs-death-penalty
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dadablahdribble
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There's no good arguments against the death penalty.
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beccabokka
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(Original post by AmeliaF)
I'm Vice President of my schools debate club but I can't help but feel it was a consolation prize. As such I really want to redeem myself with my first debate topic.
I'm looking for unique arguments against and rebuttles for the yes it's a good idea side.
Any ideas?
Try and avoid going down the route of ‘the USA have death penalties and yet the crime rate is higher than the UK therefore death penalties don’t work’ because it’s such an easy argument to rebut. Like gun laws are different in the US, etc. That’s where I see a lot of arguments against death penalty fall Dow
I would consider the implications of a death penalty, so for example, by killing someone in punishment, there are no less murderers. Talk about the potential for rehabilitation with this and how that is one of the aims of the justice system
Talk about (but only briefly) the potential of a miscarriage of justice.
Hope those ideas help
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QE2
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(Original post by beccabokka)
Try and avoid going down the route of ‘the USA have death penalties and yet the crime rate is higher than the UK therefore death penalties don’t work’ because it’s such an easy argument to rebut. Like gun laws are different in the US, etc. That’s where I see a lot of arguments against death penalty fall Dow
But that isn't the argument. It is simply that statistics show that the death penalty is not a deterrent to murder.
You say that it is "such an easy argument to rebut", but I have yet to see someone actually rebut this.

I would consider the implications of a death penalty, so for example, by killing someone in punishment, there are no less murderers.
Not sure what you mean here.

Talk about (but only briefly) the potential of a miscarriage of justice.
Why "only briefly"? "Blackstone's Law" is the cornerstone of a just legal system!

"It is better to free ten guilty men than to convict one innocent one".
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Underscore__
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(Original post by dadablahdribble)
There's no good arguments against the death penalty.
I think you misspelt ‘for’
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StrangeKings
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innocent people being killed and serial killers/pedos/rapists going free!?!?!?!
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Dez
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(Original post by QE2)
But that isn't the argument. It is simply that statistics show that the death penalty is not a deterrent to murder.
The statistics show correlation, not causation. Proving the latter is more difficult, which is why the argument, while not entirely baseless, is still a bit weak.
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Dheorl
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You come to random strangers for your arguments rather than doing first hand research of statistics and papers and wonder why you didn't get the club presidency?

As for the death penalty. If you want to reintegrate the criminal into society, well, this obviously is impossible. If you simply want to punish the criminal then there are more efficient and reversible ways for society to do it, for instance work camps.
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AmeliaF
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(Original post by Underscore__)
I think you misspelt ‘for’
Good one
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AmeliaF
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(Original post by Dheorl)
You come to random strangers for your arguments rather than doing first hand research of statistics and papers and wonder why you didn't get the club presidency?

As for the death penalty. If you want to reintegrate the criminal into society, well, this obviously is impossible. If you simply want to punish the criminal then there are more efficient and reversible ways for society to do it, for instance work camps.
Hey this is only part of my research. I'm trying to be as thorough as possible and getting tips from veteran students was a good place to start my research. So thanks for your judgement and all but I'm doing my best.
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Dheorl
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(Original post by AmeliaF)
Hey this is only part of my research. I'm trying to be as thorough as possible and getting tips from veteran students was a good place to start my research. So thanks for your judgement and all but I'm doing my best.
You just seemed rather bitter about not getting the presidency. Merely pointing out what you could improve on, that's all. By the time you've actually fact checked the arguments here (I'm hoping you'll be doing that), because let's be fair, half of them will be complete tripe someone heard down a pub, you'd be better off just doing some more original research yourself. Standing up in a debate and putting forward some truly original arguments will always come across better than regurgitating the standard lines you're going to get on any online forum.
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AmeliaF
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(Original post by Dheorl)
You just seemed rather bitter about not getting the presidency. Merely pointing out what you could improve on, that's all. By the time you've actually fact checked the arguments here (I'm hoping you'll be doing that), because let's be fair, half of them will be complete tripe someone heard down a pub, you'd be better off just doing some more original research yourself. Standing up in a debate and putting forward some truly original arguments will always come across better than regurgitating the standard lines you're going to get on any online forum.
I'm not bitter it's just Vice President was not mentioned before me and the other candidate did a speech and were voted for. So I feel the position may have been used to make me feel better about losing but since it was on the spot I was not expecting to win. As for tripe I agree this place is full of opinion not face but it's good to see what strongly held opinions I should pander too or watch out for. I'm doing as much research as possible compiling written notes and flash cards so that I have plenty to revise from and use. I'm trying to find unique arguments because those are the ones that grab attention which is why I've used as many research methods as possible. Above all else though the BBC has been a great reputable source
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