Capital Punishment for Insane is OK

Rivalry Side A | Other | Crimes

Insanity Should Void Death Penalty

Rivalry Side B | Other | Crimes

Consider the horrendous event that took place today in Aurora, Colorado at the Dark Knight Premier. While the suspect has yet to claim insanity, if he does, should cold hearted murderers like James Holmes be eligible for the death penalty?


Posted by in Other / Crimes on 7/20/12
Debate Leaders
  1. cutie122403 (4 votes)
  1. DollyFan (4 votes)
  1. The Boss (4 votes)
  1. Sarah Forester (3 votes)

Side A fans: (7)

Neutral Fans: (0)

Side A Comment

DollyFan - 7/23/12 @ 11:14 PM:
I am for the death penalty for the sane and the insane. Wrong is wrong. And in this case, he went to college, work and lived and nobody suspected he was unstable. And I see no reason for us to pay to feed, clothe, house, etc. criminals.

As for the death penalty not deterring killers, I have some points to bring up. Many pedophiles aren't deterred because of prison, house arrest, adding their name to a registry, informing the police of their addresses, not living near schools, day care, etc. does that mean we end those restrictions? Thieves serve time and get released but still aren't deterred from the life of crime just because of going back to prison or having to visit a parole officer. Do we get rid of jails and parole officers? Just because capital punishment doesn't deter someone doesn't mean it shouldn't exist. Many kidnappers, thieves, pedophiles and other criminals never quit. It's just who they are and what they do no matter what the punishment is going to be. I'd also like to know if these studies factored in other factors or if they just looked at what state has the death penalty and what their percentage was. Many factors could affect that.
LIBERAL - 7/24/12 @ 2:22 AM: Rival | Side B
Actually, in cases involving the insane I do not agree Dolly. Here is where I have a problem with your logic. A person who is by clinical definition insane is not of reasonable mind, especially at this very early age when for example the onset of schizophrenia begins to take hold. Which, by the way, is what is believed to be the case with Mr. Holmes thus far. If this is in fact true then why is it our obligation to simply get rid of the human being instead of treating the human being? Why is it morally justifiable to murder one human being who may have not understood his own actions to appease the deaths and victims of others? An eye for an eye? If we use this moral justification in the biblical sense then you and I should have been put to death long before now as prescribed by law in both the Old and New Testaments in the books of Leveticus and Deuteronomy respectively. What about the contradictions? Whilst in one part of the bible we are instructed to stone some to death for their immoral actions we are also instructed by the Ten Commandments that "Thou shalt not kill". To my knowledge there was no underwriting beneath the Ten Commandments with an asterisk stipulating that this particular commandment was null and void should it be for the purpose of wreaking justice upon the condemned? All I'm asking is that if we have a moral obligation to Mr. Holmes, should it not be to help or rehabilitate a person who may not have been under true moral and mental faculties at the time he made such an irrational and terrible decision? Should we be so quick to judge those and their circumstances that we barely know? If indeed he was not of sound mind at the time of his horrific actions why does it then become justifiable to simply stick a needle in his arm as opposed to food in his mouth? If we go by "wrong is wrong" then why do we cheer and celebrate women who kill their husbands after years of physical and mental abuse, but a man whose mind is genetically predisposed to mental illness should be strapped into a chair and told to take deep breaths?

As far as deterrence is concerned I do not see your logic there either. Remember that the death penalty is a punishment by law. Parole officers, registries, and house arrests are exactly as you said... ...restrictions. They are in place to provide future protection from those who are eventually released. Death penalties are pretty much finalistic. If the law and penalty are rescinded then they spend the rest of their natural lives in prison without possibility of parole. Just as being put to death, no possibility of parole still removes them permanently from civilization.

As for your determination that we should not have to feed, clothe, and house such individuals I also see a lack of judgment as well. Is it because of tax dollars spent to accommodate these men and women? By that same rationale should we also simply put to death those who have been sentenced to life for various crimes which did not warrant the death penalty? For example, there are plenty of men and women who have been convicted of lesser crimes such as tax evasion, mail fraud, pedophilia, and involuntary manslaughter, etc. that have received sentences that go well beyond a normal person’s lifespan at the time of their incarceration. Should we save a few more dollars and gas them as well? Why is it morally right to feed, clothe, and house these individuals? Murder, whether first degree, mass, or capital, etc. are far more reprehensible crimes and thusly the death penalty is the only viable solution? I am only asking that you be more specific.

In answer to your last question concerning different factors I did state previously that several of the studies took different variables into consideration:

“Rick - 7/21/12 @ 1:38 PM:
Several of the studies go way beyond just what appears on the surface. Many of them consider crimes other than the typical first degree murder or capital murder in order to get the death penalty.”

I’m not being sarcastic, mean, or facetious. You stated what you considered a very valid argument, and I agree to an extent on some of the content, but I am simply replying in answer to some of your questions, and would only ask that you elaborate on some of the points. At the very least I responded just so that I might both clarify my position and suggest thoughts for you to consider as well.

Side A Comment

Sarah Forester - 7/22/12 @ 9:30 AM:
can an act of "insanity" be carried out in such a well planned and meticulous manor?? Cases will all vary but in this case in particular everything was very thought out and most definitely planned. Anyone can plead insanity.
LIBERAL - 7/22/12 @ 6:08 PM: Rival | Side B
Surprisingly enough... ...yes, they can. The fact that he stockpiled weapons, ammunition, and various other elements to booby-trap his apartment only go further to prove that he was clearly not in a stable mindset. There are several ways a defense team may go about using the insanity plea or defense. There is a difference. I'm not sure about Colorado. I'll have to look it up. What I do know is that an insanity plea means the defense will have to prove that their defendant did not know right from wrong and cannot be held fully responsible for the crime committed. An insanity defense may mean his attorney's acknowledge that he may have known right from wrong, but due to mental illness he should not face the full penalty of the law for the crime. Either way there are several ways to go about proving mental illness, temporary insanity, volitional insanity, incompetence, etc.

Make no mistake, the district attorney will use his meticulous planning to try to prove some sort of premeditation and knowledge of right from wrong. However, that being said, when it comes to an insanity defense none of that means anything, and will more than likely confuse the jury anyway. A little tidbit of information I found out though: 60-70% of insanity pleas are used in non-violent proceedings. Only 20% of those who try to use the insanity plea for cases involving murder are actually acquitted.

Side A Comment

cutie122403 - 7/21/12 @ 10:25 PM:
Insane or not i am 150% for the death penalty!

Side B Comment

LIBERAL - 7/21/12 @ 1:38 PM:
Several of the studies go way beyond just what appears on the surface. Many of them consider crimes other than the typical first degree murder or capital murder in order to get the death penalty. The main reason I'm against this particular rivalry is because people like Mr. Holmes are obviously mentally unstable and the threat of the death penalty is never something someone with his clear mental disorder even considers.

As far as closure for the family of a victim I have nothing to say on the matter. My entire belief against this particular penalty is based upon the law and the effectiveness of deterrence used to enforce it.

Side B Comment

LIBERAL - 7/21/12 @ 3:14 AM:
I have chosen this side mainly due to deterrence. A small fraction of my decision is based on morality, but not much. Specifically I have seen over 30 studies and statistical data which has proven over the course of 50 years that the death penalty as a deterrent of heinous crimes simply does not work. In the last 10 years alone it has been shown that of the current 17 states that do not use the death penalty have had a murder rate of anywhere between 10-50% less than those states with a death penalty. Bottom line: If, after 50 years of collective study, those states with a death penalty had shown significantly lower murder rates I would consider it an effective deterrent. However, all evidence is to the contrary. I know some people would argue that leaving them locked up for life costs too much money, but I do not believe we should sentence any one to death simply because it would be more cost effective. I will include a few links for citing purposes.

The Boss - 7/21/12 @ 1:03 PM: Rival | Side A
While I certainly see your logic I don't approach it from an idea that deterrence is the ultimate goal of the punishment.

When someone commits crimes such as mass murder they are stripping life away from the victims and should not be rewarded with a life of free meals, room and board, and opportunity to continue breathing. This is something the victims weren't offered.

Not to mention people disturbed enough to take the lives of countless innocent victims aren't going to be deterred by the threat of losing their life in the gas chamber. So I can see why if you look at it simply as a deterrence then it wouldn't be a effective way to combat the crimes; I'm not convinced there's any way to stop lunatics from committing these types of crimes (Let's not expand this to gun control because that's a whole other rivalry on its own).

However Justice should be served for the those who lost their lives as well as their loved ones. And I may be going out on the limb here but allowing this **&$*&? to live his whole life behind bars isn't what I'd consider justice. If you want to call it an eye for an eye then so be it. If it was my family member lost then you better believe I'd want him dead; not 12 years from now as he awaits all of his appeals but NOW.

Preface: I didn't not have a chance to look at the sources provide but wanted to raise some questions as a devils advocate.

While I agree that Capital Punishment isn't necessarily an ideal way to deter horrendous crimes I do want to ask a couple of questions.

Does the research look at other variables that could affect the rates of murders? Such as the amount of gangs, demographics, gun control laws, poverty statistics, unemployment statistics, etc... ?

I guess simply; Do they only look at the murder rates of states that impose capital punishment vs the states that don't? Or do they dig much deeper in the research? I'm just curious.

Also, the main question raised in this rivalry is the question of insanity. While I'm guessing since you aren't for capital punishment in general this would apply to those that are insane as well. But for fun, If you were in favor of the death sentence would an insane criminal be disqualified from the punishment?
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