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Topics Homepage> The U.S. should ban the death penalty

The U.S. should ban the death penalty

PRO (3 assertions)

Links to more PRO research:


Death Penalty Information Center: Issues

Both sides can use this site to prepare cases. Many issues concerning the death penalty are explained in depth.



The American Civil Liberties Union

There are links to several articles and excerpts from anti-death penalty publications.

1. Assertion: The death penalty is immoral

Reasoning: The U.S. court systems is inherently flawed and is never perfect, so with the death penalty, not only will the guilty be executed but the completely innocent will have their lives taken away from them, all for doing nothing. And, as a court saying goes, “It is better to let a guilty man go free than an innocent man put to death.”

Evidence: According to a study conducted by Ronald Huff, direct of the Criminal Justice Research Center at Ohio State University and Edward Sagarin, a professor of sociology at City College and City University of New York, approximately 10,000 wrongful convictions occur every year. So, 10,000 innocent men and women would have their lives taken away for something they didn’t even do every single year in America. Because of this immorality, the death penalty should be abolished.

2. Assertion: The death penalty doesn’t deter crime and therefore the lives taken by it do nothing in the support of legal enforcement

Reasoning: Few people are executed by the death penalty in actuality in the U.S., and because of the high chances of escaping with a crime and not being caught and the average of eight years to live after your court case before being executed, there is no more deterent affect caused by it towards criminal activity than there is with long periods in time in prison. And many people simply won’t be affected by it

Evidence: According to the American Civil Liberties Union, states that have death penalty laws do not have lower crime or murder rates than states without such laws. Also, it doesn’t deter people from committing serious crimes like murders, for the people who do these crimes usually do so in the heat of passion, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or because they are mentally ill. And those who plan their murders beforehand, intend and expect to escape punishment altogether by not getting caught.

3. Assertion: The death penalty sends the wrong message

Reasoning: Fighting violence with violence only leads to bad things. For instance, it is hypocritical and stupid for us to criticize a murder when we do the same to the murderer. We can punish the criminals using other methods, ones that do not support what that criminal did.

Evidence: “The state does not honor the victim of the crime by emulating his murderer,” Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. And the ACLU claims that “the policy of state-authorized killings is completely immoral and unrighteous.”

CON (2 assertions)

Links to more CON research:

"Justice For All: Pro - Death Penalty"

This site provides answers to many common arguments against the death penalty, has an extensive database of death penalty cases, and contains statistical data.


Rebuttal To: Article 3 of the Declaration of Human Rights

Assertion: In Article 3 of the Declaration of Human Rights it states: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Strangely, from this, abolitionists interpret that the death penalty is a human rights violation since it deprives a person's right to life. But if we were to follow that reasoning, we would have to abolish prisons as a human rights violation as well since they deprive people of liberty. We would also have to abolish charging taxes and fines since they violate one's "security of person." Indeed, it is clear that the drafters of the Declaration of Human Rights had the moral coherence to recognize the distinction between crime and punishment which abolitionists try so desperately to erase. So the interpretation that abolitionists derive from Article 3 of the Declaration is illogical and contradictory. Secondly, the U.S. didn’t even sign this declaration, so we have no need to follow it.

1. Assertion: The death penalty has a great deterrent effect to it and will help prevent future crimes from occurring

Reasoning: If you know in advance that if you commit a crime you will be punished by death, it is human nature to then fear committing that crime and not break the law for fear of death, which is the harshest punishment of them all. No other punishment has a greater deterrent effect, which is why we should adopt death penalty.

Evidence: According to a University of Illinois study, approximately 18 murders are prevented per state because of the death penalty. Also, historically capital punishment is proven to work. E.g. in English occupied India, the Indian Thuggee gang was one of the worst gangs of murdering thieves the world has ever known, credited with over 2,000,000 murders. They plagued India for more than 350 years, and they were thought to be unstoppable because they killed in the name of religion and not revenge. But in 1829 to 1848, the British managed to suppress the Thuggee gangs using capital punishment and letting it be public. The British gov. deemed the problem solved with the hanging of the last know Thuggee in 1882.

2. Assertion: The death penalty helps to save us money and space

Reasoning: Life without parole for 30 years eats up not only money but time and effort that could be used stopping another crime from happening. Also, our prisons are flooded with people, and we lack the adequate resources to deal with these criminals, often ending up giving murderers light sentences because we cannot contain them.

Evidence: According to Justice For All, life without parole cases will cost $1.2 million-$3.6 million more than equivalent death penalty cases. Up front, death penalty may cost more, but over time, life without parole cases are much more expensive.