Polling finds Americans are still largely supportive of the death penalty, with a majority in favor as punishment for murder. Legal in dozens of states, it came under renewed scrutiny in light of several botched executions in 2014. At the heart of the debate are many complicated questions. How certain are you of a person's guilt? Does fear of death reduce other crime? Are other factors, such as race and class biases, at work in sentencing? Are some crimes so monstrous that punishment by death is the only appropriate measure? These are fundamental queries to the following debate: Should we abolish the death penalty? Having it out in the public square, Intelligence Squared host John Donvan presides over a spirited debate between Diann Rust-Tierney and Barry Scheck, arguing for the motion, and Robert Blecker and Kent Scheidegger, arguing against the motion. Rust-Tierney is the Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and her teammate Scheck is Co-Director of the Innocence Project and a Professor at Cardozo Law. Their opposition is Blecker, a Professor at New York Law School, arguing with Scheidegger, the Legal Director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. This debate was taped on April 15, 2015.
· The death penalty violates basic human rights and is a morally reprehensible mechanism of punishment for a civilized society to maintain.
· The death penalty does not deter crime.
· The death penalty is many times more costly than sentencing someone to life without parole.
· Because of flaws in law enforcement and the criminal justice system, there is the possibility that innocent people will be subjected to this irreversible sentence.
· The death penalty is applied in a disproportionate manner and is more likely to be used against the poor and minorities.
· Some crimes are so heinous that life in prison is an insufficient punishment.
· The death penalty does deter crime and it guarantees that repeat offenders will not engage in criminal activity again.
· We accept the possibility of mistakes in every other aspect of life—the death penalty should not be an exception.
· DNA testing and other advances in forensic science can now eliminate almost all uncertainty regarding guilt or innocence.
· The death penalty provides prosecutors with an important tool when attempting to strike a deal, without taking life without parole off the table.