Home / Debates / Health / Prisoners Should Be Used For Medical Experiments Without Consent

Prisoners Should Be Used For Medical Experiments Without Consent

Human rights has been a controversial issue because it is very difficult to draw the boundary between the rights of the individual versus the rights of a group. At the same time, we accept the fact that while all humans are entitled to protection of natural, basic rights, there are always limits on these rights. The best example is the generally accepted principle that when one infringes on the rights of another (for example murder), they forfeit their own claim to such rights. These people are condemned to different levels of punishment according to the Law. Here comes our motion for today: Prisoners should Be Used for Medical Experiments Without Consent. In this debate, we define “prisoners” as those who are sentenced to the death penalty in the United States. The “medical experiments” are limited exclusively for the purpose of the development of vaccines and cures for pandemic diseases (example is the Measles vaccine or Tuberculosis vaccine which saved millions of human lives). Under our definition, this House should allow medical experiments on prisoners without consent under the supervision of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

All the Yes points:

  1. It is acceptable to infringe on the rights of criminals sentenced to the death penalty in order to save massive quantity of human life and preserve the continuity of the human race.
  2. Death-penalized prisoners are obligated to comply with vaccine test medical procedures for the greater good since they have a debt to society they must repay.
  3. Summation

All the No points:

  1. Against the Principle of Criminal Justice
  2. Against morality and medical ethics
  3. Protection of prisoner’s rights
  4. No Cruel and Unusual Punishment
  5. Defending on Opp’s Argument 1
  6. Defending on Opp’s Argument 2
  7. Defending on Opp’s Argument 3

It is acceptable to infringe on the rights of criminals sentenced to the death penalty in order to save massive quantity of human life and preserve the continuity of the human race.

Yes because…

Let’s take a look at the history of the development of medical cures as an example. Viagra was developed for a heart disease for the first time. During tests, some people found out it helped men’s erectile dysfunction. People say: What a great discovery! Yes, it is. With tests on humans, we found out more results than we expected. It helped the procedure of modern medicine development.

Currently, we are faced with a rising global population and an increasing risk of a pandemic outbreak. For example, the outbreak of H1N1 Swine Flu virus in 2009 came at such a speed that world governments could be reactive at best. People quickly feared that the consequences could be as grave as “Spanish flu”. Between 1918 to 1919, about one third of the world population was infected, about 50 million to 100 million people worldwide were killed. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_flu]] What if they had a rapid response vaccine in 1918? How many lives could have been saved? People would not have grieved because of losing families, friends, etc. According to Wikipedia, Spanish flu has been described as “the greatest medical holocaust in history”, and may have killed more people than the Black Death. Again, we see the importance to have medical development to survivability of the human race.

So why not just test volunteers who consent to being exposed to dangerous vaccines? Well, the answer is, quite simply, time and risk. The speed at which pandemic viruses can spread is rapid. Global and national health organizations have to be able to react instantly to a new virus threat, and that means having a body of test subjects that can be utilized without delay. Calling volunteers will take more time. Thinking about the steps of testing on volunteers – Calling, Health Check…. There will be more and more innocent people infected or even died of any pandemic disease during this period. Prisoners all already get health checked before they go to jail. So it will save a lot of precious time when a breakout happens.

These types of test drugs may also be more dangerous than we are typically used to, we do not want risk everybody’s life to test unknown and dangerous medications. But the tests must continue. Therefore, we propose that tests on certain humans should be allowed, without their consent. By those humans, we refer exclusively to death penalized prisoners. They harm other people, commit crimes and thus, are sentenced to death by law. Under the US justice system, we believe that death penalties are justified in most situations. The punishment of death is the ultimate sacrifice of human rights, and therefore, we strongly feel it is acceptable to use such cases in medical studies prior to their execution.

Vaccine tests will usually be conducted on hundreds of people before doing a mass test. And this first step is usually the most dangerous phase. We want to protect more healthy people and want them to continue their normal lives. We would not call volunteers, since once anything severe happens, it is unfair to them. They are such good and warm-hearted citizens. However, there are people who disobeyed laws or committed serious crimes. The act of violating the law in this manner is to sacrifice one’s full protection of rights by the Constitution. Under U.S. Health & Human Services’ supervision, certain pandemic vaccines will be initially tested on these prisoners who have already been sentenced to the death penalty. It will not only give them a second chance to atone for their transgressions, but also help to protect millions of innocent lives who may be at risk from a pandemic. These tests results could directly help or even change the course of the human race.

There were 492 executions in 2008 in the US. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_flu]] This amount is just enough for an initial phase of testing for a new vaccine. With these results, we can decide if we can continue to step two which is a test on a mass number. With these results, we may find some interesting effects, just like Viagra. Who knows? With so many question marks on the safety of vaccines, we absolutely need vaccines to be tested on certain people who are sentenced to the death penalty. We do not want out next generation to be at risk again of swine flu or some other pandemic diseases.

As technology advances, humans are beginning to fulfill their potential as responsible keepers of the earth and masters of our own destiny. At the same time, the risk to the survival of humanity has never been greater. With the global population nearing seven billion human lives [[http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/popclockworld.html]], the risk of a pandemic is a serious threat. We now have the ability to utilize our technology to rapidly develop vaccines to combat the latest viruses as they arise. With so much on the line, it is of paramount importance that now, more than ever, we are put ourselves in position to protect humans from the risks of pandemic flu outbreaks. This requires a joint effort by all nations and the willingness of certain governments to take the initiative to make unpopular decisions for the greater good. A repeat of the Spanish Influenza or the Black Death is worth avoiding at almost all costs, and in this situation the cost is only the comfort of the most vile and repulsive criminals who are already condemned to die. Therefore, today, as government, we strongly believe that this House should allow medical experiments on prisoners without consent under the supervision of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

No because…

Death-penalized prisoners are obligated to comply with vaccine test medical procedures for the greater good since they have a debt to society they must repay.

Yes because…

First, let’s see what those death-penalized people did to make the whole society and our justice system think they deserve the death penalty. Take Ted Bundy as an example, a notorious criminal in U.S. He was an American serial killer active between 1974 and 1978. He twice escaped from county jails before his final apprehension in February 1978. After more than a decade of vigorous denials, he eventually confessed to over 30 murders, although the actual total of victims remains unknown. Estimates range from 29 to over 100, the general estimate being 35. Typically, Bundy would bludgeon his victims, then strangle them to death. He also engaged in rape and necrophilia. Bundy was executed for his last murder by the state of Florida in 1989. While he was pronounced dead, several hundred people were gathered outside the prison and cheered when they saw the signal that Bundy had been declared dead. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Bundy]]

After hearing this whole story, I am sure everybody agrees that he deserved death penalty. Keeping him in society will only harm the whole society more. Based on what they did, the payback should be conducted in a special way, which meant to be a vaccine test medical experiment. The greater good of testing vaccine medical experiment can lead to less sacrifice on innocent warm-hearted volunteers and to advance vaccine development.

And according to New York Times, some comprehensive analysis revealed that the death penalty costs California taxpayers more than $137 million each and every year. [[http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/opinion/l01death.html]] Thus, we believe that as government it is compulsory for death-penalized people to pay back the society while they are still alive. As a taxpayer, you may think it is such a waste of money spending this huge number on death-penalized criminals. So the “debt” we are talking about today is not only how much social responsibilities they owe, but also a huge number of taxpayer’s spending.

Having death-penalized prisoners as examples for vaccine tests saves our volunteer calling spending and it saves our taxpayer’s money.

The debt that convicts owe to society is a controversial issue indeed. Clearly, not only have the violated the rights of other innocent people, they have also created a financial burden by forcing society to imprison them and take care of their basic needs. It actually costs more to execute a person than imprison them for life, therefore it can be abstracted that death row convicts have the biggest debt to society, both financially and morally.

We have previously stated that the main principle underlying the Justice System is to protect innocent people. But, in order to achieve that society must burden a heavy cost financially. The US spends an estimated 60 billion dollars a year on corrections [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_States#Cost_of_incarceration]]. While we would not argue that this is a wasted cost, we do believe that more can be done to recoup that cost. One of these ways is by using convicted felons to do hard labor and other types of jobs that are beneficial to the state that is caring for them. Prisoners who are convicted to death are in the special circumstance that the state has already made the decision that they will forfeit their life. This debate is not about whether or not it is right for the state to make this decision. Therefore, we have a special sample group that can be utilized for medical testing as we have stated previously. Of course, it is impossible for these inmates to ever completely repay their debts to society, but this at least one way the state can force them to do something right before they pass, with or without their consent.

In conclusion, we restate the argument that death row inmates are obligated to comply with vaccine tests for medical procedures for the greater good since they have a debt to society they must repay. When a criminal is convicted of a heinous crime and sentenced to death, we do not stop and ask him or her for consent. By that same token, when faced with a pandemic of unimaginable consequences, we will not ask those same criminals whether it is ok for us to test vaccines on them. That is their debt to society and our responsibility as a government to see to it that the debt is repaid.

No because…

1. We are very sorry that the proposition didn’t realize that one of the most important burden of their proof is why government has the right, or why it is right for the government to act like The Authority to determine the death-row prisoner’s “usage”. As the propostion stated, and I quote:”This debate is not about whether or not it is right for the state to make this decision.” Maybe is just because this careless attitude the proposition thinks it’s ok for the government to do whatever they see fit to freely torture the death-row prisoners or give them excessive inhuman treatment. A very dangerous totalitarian mentality. We feel that the proposition is not on the same page talking about the issue here if they don’t realize the importance of justifying the legitamacy of their action. However, we would still argue against the principle they stated.
The proposition mentioned that the main purpose of the justice system is to protect the innocent. We’d agree it is one of the principle of justice but this function is not reflected nor enhanced under the proposition’s model. By putting criminals in prison, and by executing the death-row prisoners, the purposed of protecting innocent people in society is already achieved because the best way to protect is to keep them way from the public. This has nothing to do with conducting medical experiment to these prisoners. So the real reason the proposition saying here is that to reduce the expenditure of prison as it’s expensive to execute the death penalty. We can’t agree with this either. First of all, the proposition already stated that there are alternatives such as heavy labor for the retributive punishment to prisoners. In the case of death-row prisoners, their retributive punishment is, as we already stated in our arguments, the right of their life. Such a punishment fit for their crime. To impose anything more punishment will consist a cruel and unusual punishment, which we explain in our argument No. 4. The medical experiment is irrelevant to pay their “debt” to society

2. By giving just one example doesn’t show the whole picture of death-penalized prisoners. More importantly, this example only shows that he deserves capital punishment, but not showing any links why he deserves to treat as human guinea pig WITHOUT consent. Besides, it’s a hasty generalization to say that every death row prisoners are seriel killers just because Bundy was so. There are numerous other stories about how innocent people have been wrongly sentenced to death–for example, innocent North Carolina Man Levon “Bo” Jones Exonerated After 14 Years On Death Row. Since 1973, 135 death-row inmates have been wrongly convicted and exonerated. Jones is the most recent case in 2008. 7 people have been wrong executed despite of their innocence based on strong evidence. So what about the right for these innocent people? We have reason to believe that wrong conviction will continue to help as it did before because of the imperfectness of the justice system itself. Propositions model definitely includes these convincted but innocent people, as there is no immediate way to clear their name once the conviction is made. As the proposition is a big fan of rights of the innocent, it’s exactly self-contradictory because their plan hurts the right of those innocent. First they don’t have a debt to pay back at all; second, any medical experiment, especially for pandemic diseases, has potential risk or even damage to health. These people, once found unguilty will be ordered release and return to society for a normal life, there would already be physical harm made to their body let alone to say their rights been completely infringed.

3. It might be more expensive to execute a criminal then keep them in prison, but that’s the obligation goes with the decision of allowing death penalty. A more topical debate to release the financial restrain of the prison system might be to abolish the capital punishment so that we save tax-payer’s money by just having life-long imprisonment. Since the US government choose to allow death penalty, as one of the four developed democracies supporting this practice, it is a necessary spending in their annual budget plan to maintain the system, with or without the medical experiment issue. We should recognize that the 60 million dollars proposition mentioned for US to correct the system is not just for the whole prison system, why disproportionally aimed at the death-penalized prisoners to “repay the debt” ? Even if it stands, counting on the death-row prisoners to repay the budge by forcing them to be tested is not a way out of it. We appreciate the novelty, not the logic behind it. One misunderstanding of the Proporstion is to think that the 137 million dollars of tax payer’s money is spent for nothing. It should be mistaken that this money is citizen’s fee pay for the government’s role to provide society security, for the maintainance of the governments functional constituencies including police, prison, national defense etc. as elements in the big network of government services. Citizens are beneficiaries of a more secured society under the operation of a well-functioning government who knows how to use their taxpayer’s money and when or where to use it. The government should be the one that directly hold accountable for the taxpayer’s money, not the prisoners. The relation between prisoner and other citizens are not a “debt-and-pay” relationship as depicted by the propositon. By giving death penalty, the prisoners already paid their share of debt, directly linked to the crimes they committed and the innocent people they hurt in their certain case. By giving death penalty, they already receive the maximum amount punishment of retributive justice and no extra undue or unfair treatment should be imposed. Thirdly, if you wanna talk about finance for the justice system, the problem of US government is not that they don’t have money, but how did they spend it–how much does the Iraq war costed? Estimated 1.6 trillion by 2009. Probably the government should give more thought about medical experiments than mass destructive weapons. Spare those prisoners who already facing a death penalty.

Again, this does not prove why compulsory medical experiment suddenly has the solid reason to be performed. The way for the convicts to pay their “biggest debt” is the terminal of their life, as stated above, not other undue burdens.



Yes because…

To end the debate, we will take our final opportunity to summarize the main issues at hand, and restate our arguments. The major issues are: what rights, if any, a prisoner sentenced to death is entitled to; what is right under the practice of medical ethics; the debt to society owed by prisoners who are sentenced to death; and finally if conducting experiments on criminals convicted to the death sentence qualifies for protection under the 8th amendment (cruel and unusual punishment).

Let us start by tackling the first issue. Our side restates that it is acceptable to infringe on the rights of criminals sentenced to the death penalty in order to save massive quantity of life. The opposition has challenged this stance by arguing that these criminals deserve the same rights as other prisoners, namely natural human rights and more specifically the right to consent for medical testing. We disagree with this stance because of the principle decision the courts make when sentencing criminals to death in the first place. We can all agree that the protection of one’s life, is one of the most, if not most, fundamental natural rights in existence. It is self-evident and one that we try to uphold given almost any circumstance. However, some crimes are so vile and offensive to society that we have no choice but to make the decision to execute the prisoner. In these special cases, we put such criminals in a separate classification of entitlements. They lose their right to life, and therefore, cannot be discussed in the same realm as other prisoners. While we still protect many of their rights, they are the easiest group to target for medical testing without consent because we have already decided they do not have the right to life.

The next issue is what is right under the practice of medical ethics. We feel that medical ethics is a guide, meant to offer advice and rules for medical practitioners. However, in some cases there is no clear right or wrong, just better or worse. In the case we have proposed, testing on subjects without their consent is a violation of medical ethics. But, the reason we argue for allowing it is because not developing a pandemic vaccine as fast as possible may cost millions of people their lives. This is also a violation of medical ethics. The opposition’s weighing of issues in medical ethics is far too narrow, and does not admit that in the real world issues are almost never black and white. This is the difference between ethics in theory and ethics in practice.

The third issue we will summarize is the argument that prisoners sentenced to death owe society a debt. This debt is based on two independent factors: the cost to the society they have tolled, and the good they can do by being forced to comply with the pandemic vaccine tests. The price they have cost society is two-fold. On the one hand the death and destruction they caused is not quantifiable. Wrecking lives and causing damage to people that can never be repaid. On the other hand, in order to protect them from causing further damage, the state is forced to give them a fair trial and then support their basic needs, both of which cost taxpayers considerable sums of money. The second side is the good they can do by becoming test subjects for pandemic vaccines. With millions of lives at stake in the early part of a vaccine outbreak, having a group which can be tested on without consent could be the difference maker between life or death for millions of people. Therefore, we feel justified in passing a law that gives the state the right to conduct these tests on death-row inmates without their consent.

The opposition totally ignored that harms that those prisoners bring to society. These prisoners are extremely dangerous and offensive to the society. Most of these prisoners are serial killers. And in this debate, the opposition got lost several times. They argued on capital punishment and prison inmates in general. They got back to this debate after we reminded them. Capital punishment is already legalized in 37 states of US, which is not relevant to this debate. And as we stated that we are also on the side of protecting basic rights of normal prisoners. However, we think, extreme criminals should be treated in a different way, which is misunderstood as “discrimination” by the opposition. Under our justice, we weigh what prisoners do and decide how much punishment they deserve. This is definitely not discrimination. This is justice!

The final issue is a prisoner’s guaranteed right for protection from cruel and unusual punishment. The medical testing on prisoners is not a punishment to them in the first place. It is a way that our government gives those death-penalized prisoners a chance to pay back the society. Medical experiments on prisoners are not cruel or unusual. As we have argued, they are merely replicated experiments already conducted on the general public, albeit without the consent of the test subjects. Since we have already taken away the right these individuals have to their own life, we make the case that we can extend the underlying principle to deny those same people the right to consent to such tests. In much the same way we have methods to execute someone “humanely”, we would propose that the tests are conducted in a similar manner that is not cruel or unusual according to the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution.

Adjudicators, you have clearly seen that opposition failed to make their points and our arguments stand firmly at the end of day. Again, we here re-propose that this House should allow medical experiments on prisoners without consent under the supervision of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

No because…

Against the Principle of Criminal Justice

No because…

The opposition side today fully recognize the need for medical technology in modern world, and acknowledge the importance of vaccine research to encounter possible outbreak of pandemic disease. We share the compassion and sympathy to mankind for the burden of survival suffering they have been and will be carried on.

However, what we disgree, is the way government approach to the problem. Does the govenment have the right to target prisoners as mere objects of medical experiment? And particularly, does the government has the right to do so without any consent of the prisoners?

Is it for or against the rule and nature of justice modern society build upon? The oppostion side firmly says no. To aim the experiment on prisoners, and especially without any consent involved, is fundementally unjustified to the principle of justice, human rights and the role of a government. This isn’t a debate about medicine and vaccaine, but about justice and rights.

1) Against the prinicple of Rehabilitation

Basically, the proposition side today treat the prisoners as a group of lifeless hoog and thous who does not deserved any consideration as a human being.

They deny any of their rights and believes that they deserved nothing but to die and be treated like millions of dogs, rabbits, rats, monkeys died from medical experiments each year in the United States. In their case, there’s no distinction between prisoners and a mere lifeless object. We think such mentality and principle behind it, if there’s any, is fundementally unfounded and unconstitutional. We understand that these prisoners have committed vicious crime and should be given severe punishment (in the case of captical punishment which they already been given) and we also understand that they should be condemned morally because they violated the social contract and against the norms of citizenship, But first of all, capital punishment is still a controversial issue in terms for the degree of justice it could serve, and even if it’s justifiable as the case set in the United States, it does not give right to the government to punish the prisoners by additional means for medical uses. In other words, regardless of how much the prisoners should condemned morally, there’s no legal basis that the government could further punish the prisoners at will as convenient tools to suit for any purpose the government sees fit. It’s crucial for the proposition side to answer the question that where is this legislative mendate come from, when prisoners already sentenced to death, to further punish them as objects of nonconsensual medical experiement? Where do justice draw the line between appropriate punishment and abusive retributive revenge? The proposition is extreme vague on this issue and makes the plan arbitrary without any legal basis, nor the justification of it.

We as the opposition side believes that this twisted notion of justice proposed by the propostion would be a shame of modern society. Justice should served for its rehabilitation purpose, to provide prisoners, even deprived the right to life, a chance to remorse what they have done and feel truely regretful. Treating them as silent tools for experiment wouldn’t serve for this purpose. On the contrary, it will very likely to increase the antagonism between criminals and the society–because now that they are deprived everything, including right to life and right of informed consent. Deprived the right to life does not means that they are automatically deprived their right to treat their body. Now the government is not only taking their life away, but also infringe greatly their personal autonomy to free use any part of their body. This is beyond the legal punishment they deserve, but become bladent discrimination they do not necessarily derserve. A prisoner would less likely to remorse for what they did to break the rule of society and because more antagonize with the society because now they are treated unfairly in the “violence begets violence” circle. Justice could not achieve its purpose by this way.

The harm of violation of this principle is not only directly linked to prisoners as individuals, that they are not given their lawful protection or being maltreated, but also linked to the whole society–that this will turn the society into a ZERO torlerance society with no room of restoritive justice. Why? Because the policy is sending a strong message that it’s not only legal but also moral to infringe prisoner’s right, that it’s ok and right to treat them as guinea pigs for medical experiements, that they don’t deserve a basic right at all once they become criminal. The impact will not only impact the health of the death-row prisoners, but also, to a broad extent, to other prisoners who will be discriminated by society because their nature of being criminals. Such a discriminative mentality will further marginalize the criminals and prevent the restoritave process for both criminals and society.

2) Against the principle of Proportionality for Retributive Justice

The principle of proportionality requires the punishment to fit the crime. For the prisoners who already have sentenced with death penalty, they are already being punished severely because of the crime they committed–they already being deprived of their right of life–a highest value of human right. Nothing should add additional to this sentencing because nothing could be more severe than taking away those prisoner’s fundemental right to live. To treat them as objects of experiment and further more, without any respect of their own will or opinion, it’s bladent discrimination and arbitrary against the rule of justice.

Yes because…

Dear adjudicators,

Before we start our rebuttals on opposition, please allow me to restate our definition again: this House should allow medical experiments on prisoners who are sentenced to death without consent, under the supervision of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. We would appreciate it if the opposition could get involved more in this debate by giving her counterviews under our definition. We do realize that most medical experiments are cruel, so we scope medical experiments for vaccine development only, and only when facing the threat of a pandemic outbreak. We will begin with a rebuttal showing how our thoughts and arguments were misperceived by the opposition and also clarify our position, already outlined in our definition, further.

Rebuttal #1: There is a clear distinction made between the rights of an innocent citizen and convicts sentenced to the death penalty. Political rights include:
* Natural justice (procedural fairness) in law (such as the rights of the accused, including the right to a fair trial; due process; the right to seek redress or a legal remedy)
* Individual political freedom, including rights of individuals (freedom of thought and conscience, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of movement) and the right to participate in civil society and politics (freedom of association, right to assemble, right to petition, right to vote)
Civil rights may include:
* Ensuring peoples’ physical integrity and safety
* Protection from private (non-government) discrimination (based on gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, etc.)
* Equal access to health care, education, culture, etc.
Civil and political rights comprise the first portion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (with economic, social and cultural rights comprising the second portion). Political rights are considered to be negative rights, whereas civil rights belong to the positive rights category.

And then let’s take a look at what rights prisoners have at the moment:
* Right to be protected by authorities in the case of assault or rape
* Right to Medical Treatment
* Right to freedom of expression, reading materials, and communication
* Right to express concern with the prison’s standard of living
* Right to a court of law with regards to prison authorities!
* Right to freedom of religion
* Right to access to a court of law (mentioned above)
* Right to food and clothing

As government, we have been keeping these most important basic rights for prisoners while their liberty is deprived, which is also admitted by the opposition in her last point. So here, we are very glad that the opposition side stands at our side for the first time.

However, the prisoners who are going back to society are not in the scope of our definition. We hope the opposition could read our definition again word by word. The prisoners who are sentenced to death is the group we are talking about. We believe that U.S. judicial system has clearly realized how much harm these people bring to the society, and thus how much less rights they have than other prisoners who commit lighter crimes. Therefore, we should not just give those death penalized more rights because we think they deserve sympathy and it is acceptable to infringe on the rights of criminals sentenced to death. We should be more rational on this issue. So I hope our thought will not make our opposition cry.

Rebuttal #2: From that the government’s perspective we must weigh the good versus the harm before we make any decision, especially in the case of a pandemic which could deprive human life anywhere anytime in a large quantity. As our first argument states that using death penalized prisoners saves more time, which could lead to a result of saving more human lives. Also, vaccine testing is inevitable before a massive test. Our responsibility is to make a utilitarian decision on what does the most good for the most people, while minimizing the infringement on the rights of citizens. To protect more innocent people from pandemic disease, our government decides to choose the prisoners who are sentenced to death. The sacrifice of some rights on the part of prisoners convicted to the death sentence is considered a necessary evil. So obviously, the weight of the good of using death-penalized prisoners is much heavier than the harm.

Against morality and medical ethics

No because…

Another question to argue about is that, is it moral to use death-row prisoners as guinea pigs for medical experiment? The propostion never showed us why it’s morally justified to do so. To force anyone to be experimented for medical research without their informed consent is both illegal and immoral. Medical ethics requires doctors or pharmacautical companies to conduct their experiments with the informed consent from patients or volunteers, which means that an individual should be fully informed about the potential harms or benefits an experiments would like to bring. We think there’s no point that such a basic moral principle could be tramped, this should be applied equally to both general public and prisoners, for the latter group although being deprived of their freedom or life, there’s no justification why they also deprived the right to manage their own body. It should be a basic working ethics abide by doctors and pharmacautical manufactures.

Yes because…

Medical ethics is an ideal with perfect circumstances. For instance, medical ethics says to never ignore a patient in need of treatment. However, if a doctor has two patients both in need of emergency treatment, they have to make a decision based on who has the greatest chance of being saved. Under this circumstance, we believe that our choice is the best of all. We cannot imagine the result of mass use of an untested vaccine on humans without medical experiments on humans before. So fundamentally, medical ethics are to protect more people, which stands on our side.

Protection of prisoner’s rights

No because…

The fourteenth Amendment of the United States states that all citizens should have equal protection rights. Although prisoner’s are often times deprived on their right of liberty, for death-row prisoners their right of life as well, they should not be deprived for their basic human rights, including freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom to sue the prison or government etc. if they are being unfairly maltreated. The prison and government still have the obligation to provide them with food, clothing, and in some cases the opportunity to work and even learning(there are some university debating societies in the United States visit prisoners and held parliamentary debates with them, some of them are pretty good: ). Of course we understand that for the case of death-row prisoners, debating might sound too fancy but the point here is that they should not be excluded the basic human rights as mentioned above regardless of what sentence they got. In the case of medical treatment, they should have the basic right of informed consent. One fact is that, prisoner’s rights are most likely to be ignored because of the stereotype mindset that criminals don’t deserve rights and not giving them basic rights it’s part of the punishment they should get. Such a mindset is fundementally wrong and dangerous. First of all, Putting them in prison or to die is already the punishement. Such a mindset makes the group of prisoners the easiest one to be discriminated and taking advantage of. Prisoners are the most volunarable group of people that least likely to get legal assistance which is unfair and unconstitutional.

Yes because…

Justice! The U.S. Justice System is built on protecting innocent people. The main strategy is then to remove dangerous elements from society, and using punishments (like the death sentence) to deter wrong behavior that harms the society. The purpose of the entire legal system is to protect the rights of the innocent. It does not increase the antagonism between prisoners and society as the opposition assumes. In this way, innocent citizens are protected from more harms and dangerous people, which brings us back to our point – protecting more people. Our purpose of testing on death-penalized prisoners should not be understood as punishment meant to seek retribution or revenge. The fact that the opposition suggested such a motive reflects a much darker understanding of the justice system, and one which we do not wish to represent. In the same light, rehabilitation also seeks to protect innocent people because it guarantees that criminals who will be reintroduced into society will not make the same mistakes twice. However, since death row convicts will never be released back to the general public, there is no need for this consideration.

No Cruel and Unusual Punishment

No because…

Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and US Constitution, it is clear stated that cruel and unusual punishment should be prohibited. It means that the government has no right to impose prisoners with cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment regardless of the degree of severity of their crimes. To treat death row prisoners with nonconsensual medical experiment, with unknown potential harm and risk to them, is such a cruel and inhuman punishment without applying any legal process to justify this action. It’s absolutely degrading as the prisoners are treated as animals or mere objects without consent, basically a convenient human guinea pig. Any civilized society should not allow this cruel punishment happen because it goes against the fundemental basis of that society, which is the respect and protection of liberty, rights and freedom as a citizen. All across the world or even history there’s rules against cruel and unusual punishment. As early as it written in Bill of Rights by King Williams III and Queen Mary II in 1687, and as wide as it adopted in article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of UN General Assembly in 1948. Similar articles appear in European Convention of Human rights in 1950 and Charter of the Fundemental Human Rights of EU in 2000. Besides, US is one of the 148 countries signed and ratified the UN Convention Against Torture which was passed by 1984. The Eighth Amendment of US Constitution also stated that there should be no cruel or unusual punishment. Propositon’s model is a serious violation of the baise value of justice universally acknowledged by international conventions and US own constitution and Bill of Rights. The botton line of justice for a civilized society is that we do not allow any forms of cruel and unusual punishment. To treat death convicts as objects of experiment WITHOUT their consent across this line and should not be uphold as means to real justice, for however noble ends the proposition sides claims. A vaccine should be developed and acquired under legal experiments with the consent of volunteers. Save life should not be based through tramping life and the legal rights such a life possess. This will degrade the meaning and spirit of real liberty, justice and human rights the US government is based upon. It would be a big mock of the democratic system US founding fathers tried so hard to establish 233 ago. Somehow the US has a reputation for the way they treat their prisoners. We can see from the example of Guantanamo Bay how degrading and hypercritical it is for cruel and unusual punishment or torture to exist in a democratic society, and how much condemination and criticism it received accross the world. The proposition’s plan will only deteriorate the situation and further damage the international image of US as the biggest Western democracy, let alone to say how much wrong it is to use cruel punishment to those prisoner. Obama already pledged to close the Guantanamo to correct this fundemental flaw in the justice system, we have no reason to believe that the US Department of Health and Human Services could act beyond the same reasons the president upholds to allow and even supervise the use of rightless human guinea pigs.

Yes the opposition probably would cry, not for proposition’s thoughs but for the fall of justice and civilized society their thoughts will lead to.

Yes because…

The opposition brings to the debate the a prisoner’s guaranteed right for protection from cruel and unusual punishment. This, of course, is an established principle both internationally and domestically in the United States of America. As the opposition states, it is crucial to many aspects of the justice system to not violate certain natural rights of prisoners, no matter what their crimes may be.

Our main concern in rebuttal to this point is that the principle of cruel and unusual punishment is highly subjective in nature, and one that calls for debate almost any time it is to be used. The opposition is very fast to paint a grim picture of the testing for medical vaccines and call the test subjects “guinea pigs”. However, the reality is far from the truth. In fact, there is almost no specific evidence given to explain exactly how or why these types of experiments are cruel or unusual. Quite the contrary, they are humane and ordinary. They happen all the time in the general pubic and represent an important pre-requisite for medical innovation.

For further evidence we look to the supreme court of the United States. Taken from wikipedia:

In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), Justice Brennan wrote, “There are, then, four principles by which we may determine whether a particular punishment is ‘cruel and unusual’.”

The “essential predicate” is “that a punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity,” especially torture.

“A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion.”

“A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society.”

“A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary.”

Continuing, he wrote that he expected that no state would pass a law obviously violating any one of these principles, so court decisions regarding the Eighth Amendment (of U.S. Constitution) would involve a “cumulative” analysis of the implication of each of the four principles.


We see here a basic understanding of the underlying principles behind the Eighth amendment, and the task at hand by the opposition to prove that medical testing is indeed “cruel or unusual”. We strongly believe, given the criteria stated above, that it is not. Our main point is that these tests are given to normal citizens everyday, with the only difference being their consent. Unlike torture, testing vaccines is commonplace and something that is required for medical improvement of treatments. It is not arbitrary because it is scoped to only death row inmates who where it has already been decided that they owe their life to the state.

When we think about forced medical experiments, the first image that pops into our heads is usually the treatment of the Jews under the Nazi regime in Germany during WW2. This is NOT what we are proposing. Our government is greatly concerned about health and protection of it’s citizens from pandemic outbreaks. In order to be fully prepared, we are determined to segment a group of test subjects to be utilized in emergency situations. The testing would only be done under medical supervision, and in essence would be almost the exact same as testing done to consenting volunteers. It is very difficulty for anyone to see how this act in itself is cruel or unusual. There is necessity for this due to the time it takes to collect a consenting sample in order to perform the tests. In order to overcome this problem, we have proposed using death row inmates as non-consenting subjects for reasons explained many times already in this debate.

We would also like to comment directly to the opposition’s example of Guantanamo Bay. This is a military prison operated by a branch of the US Navy. It is separate from the US justice system and therefore the example is not relevant to this discussion.

Defending on Opp’s Argument 1

No because…

1. First of all, the opposition understands from the beginning that the case is set in the US and limited to death-penalized prisoners for pandemic vaccines. What we are trying to show is that the plan not only hurts the legal rights of prisoners but also the justice of a civilized society, while the proposition didn’t address anything in their first argument why legally or morally this model stands. All they tried to convey in their first point is that medical vaccine is important and urgent for possible pandemic outbreak. We say by just stating the urgency of the need of vaccine(which we don’t deny) doesn’t give any direct legal justification about why the prisoners should be targetted as the subjects, and especially, when this could done without their consent. It is worth emphasizing that that the opposition never argue that prisoners should be totally excluded in the medical experiment, what we concern and believe is the key issue here is that why the state has the absolute right to force them doing so without their consent. We don’t think the propositon mentioned this point at all in their opening phrase.

2. Also, we don’t quite understand when the proposition side said and I quote here: “we are glad that the oppositon side stands at our side for the first time.” As much as we share the same compassion of medical research for pandemic disease, we at no time agrees that the extra cruel and unusual punishment should be imposed on death-row prisoners. We stand for a civilized society with the rule of justice and law, that even in death penalty, which occurs in rarest cases, should be conducted in a compassionate way, while the proposition seems to assume that the government automatically have the right to do so no matter what. But seeing the rebuttal we are very glad that the proposition side for the first time listed out the right of prisoners, a point we pleasantly take as now understood by both sides: prisoner DO have rights. This is a good place to start. The difference is that prop trying to seperate the rights of innocent than convicts, but a more important question to answer here is not that do the convicts different from the innocent? but do we have the right to make them different? In other words, could we deprive people’s natural right just because they are convicted? Certain rights are born with that nobody or nothing can take it away. They are so basic that cease to be utalitarian. The prop side trying to infringe the natural right of the death-row prisoners using the absolute state power, the opp firmly against it as it not only bladently discriminate equal born right but also imposing cruel punishment. In the case of the medical experiment, it’s the basic right of the convicts to have informed consent. They should be informed about the potential harm and risk, and have the final say for whether to sacrifice their personal autonomy over body or health for the experiment. If they agrees to do so then it’s fine but if they don’t agree, there’s no legal ground to impose a government action. Otherwise it’s called cruel and unusual punishemnt that does not fly with the justice system. The government can end their life by a bullet or wheelchair through legal procesure, but can not randomly inject unknown substance to their body which might lead to unknown result. We firmly believe such a basic right of consent for experiment can not be taken away for all citizens, innocent or convicts. Like mentioned, basic rights are natural that they stop to be utalitarian. We can not infringe people’s basic human rights for the so called-greater good, whether it’s small or big group, majority or minority, rich or poor, warm-hearted volunteers or death-row prisoners–no one or nothing could make the right different.

3. Plus, we understand that you are focusing on death-row prisoners. However, by talking about other prisoners or the whole society doesn’t ignore the notion of the debate. What we wanna to talk about is the impact to justice system and society from a big picture. It’s quite relevant to consider how other stakeholders like other prisoners or the society would be influenced by the policy you proposed. The impact is that this further people’s antagonism to criminals, not just death-row prisoners but all prisoners as a whole, or even worse the antaganism between society and criminals, because a society that allow the death-row prisoners to be experimented like rabbits or guinea pigs clear don’t carry out much thought about their rights. Further discrimination from the public might deepen and criminals would be further marginalized by this policy. This would decrease the rehabilitative function of justice, meaning prisoners as a whole would be harder to be reformed or accepted by society when having a chance to go back to society. Yet rehabilitation is a key principle justice should seek to uphold. As civilization develops, our society should move beyond the form of retributive justice, having less violent to violent punishment but aiming to reforming more and more people. Unfortunately, the prop’s model wouldn’t achieve these goals of real justice at all because it aims at infringing prisoner’s rights and bring more backlash to the justice system. A society with the “great good” achieved in this way would not go far, and not a civilized one to be praised for.

Besides, the prop failed to address the principle of retributive justice. A basic rule is that the punishment need to fit for crime. For death-penalized prisoners, the death itself is already the punishment. In fact, the death punishment is considered as a cruel and unusual punishment in some cases. There’s no compelling case to further punish them to pay their “debt” to society in any other way.

Yes because…

Defending on Opp’s Argument 2

No because…

I am afraid the refutation itself reveals that the prop takes a very unethical attitude toward medical experiment. There are cases that doctor’s ethics challenged by the circumstances, but there’s no analogy between the situation of two patients prop mentioned and the experiment on prisoners. First of all, experiment on prisoners does not necessarily lead to better result or quick discovery of the vaccine. In fact, it might need more attention or supervision than normal volunteers as the death-row prisoners are in special custody that not always fit for a specific condition required by an experiment. For any doctors or pharmacautical companies, the real dilemma is that it’s completely aganist their ethics to use anyone for medical experiment without informed consent. It’s not only unethical but also illegal. For death-row prisoners, although they have a foreseeable desease of life, it does not mean they can be deprived of the right of consent and be used as convenient objects. Medical ethics is not a mere ideal in perfect conditions, but a very basic line of work all doctors and pharmacautical companies abide by.

Yes because…

Defending on Opp’s Argument 3

No because…

Justice! Protection is one of the purposes of Justice System, which we explained earlier that already been achieved when the criminals are putting in prison. It quiet assertive to say that treating prisoner’s like guinea pigs would not increase the antagonism between prisoners and society, as it is such an obvious discriminative plan to tramp a prisoner’s basic human rights. Such a discrimination can’t be more explicit when the propostion says”since the death row convincts will not be released back to the general public, there’s no need for this consideration.” We say this sounds more like an eye-to-eye retribution instead of real consideration for the goal of justice system in the long-term. A much better way is to treat the prisoners as responsible decision makers with their basic rights, who could realize their crime or “debt” as the prop states, and voluntarily choose to take part in the experiment, rather than to force them to participate no matter what. The thing here is not that since they will not be released back to society so don’t bother to care about them, but that even in prison these death-row convicts as well as other prisoners will have an opportunity to be reformed with respect of equal basic rights and realize what they still can do for the greater good–and that’s a real powerful or functioning justice system should aime for. We as oppostion aim for protecting innocent people as well. But unlike the proposition side, we realize that real security and protection of innocent people could not be achieved by force or violence without legal or moral consideration.

Yes because…

Notify of
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
7 years ago

I want to propose a statement here. I can see how some people would claim it is inhumane. But what if the criminals had a CHOICE to do it- death row or clinical trial? For anyone, when you sign up to be part of a clinical trial, you always sign forms and are told the risks. Doctors are saying, “We have research to show that the outcome of these trials should be good. However, there is ALWAYS a RISK. You are signing these forms stating that you are aware of these risks and cannot hold us completely liable if something goes wrong.” That happens to any person who VOLUNTEERS AND CHOOSES to be part of a clinical trial. Because they are volunteering, it is not considered torture if they are suffering. Why not allow criminals to be part of those trials also. If they have any sense of remorse or guilt for their original crime, allow them a chance to give back. Also, compare human testings to animal testings. (I am not a complete animal activist.) but animals that are being used in trials, dont have a say. They have no idea what is going on or why they are suffering if that turns out to the be case.) Avoid an pain to animals that have no say. Humans have a say and a choice. Allow felons that choice. They can get a chance to help if they want to.

9 years ago

Why is it okay to test on animals who have done nothing wrong at all? Animals have no choice. Criminals have already chosen to commit a crime which has likely done harm to someone else. Let them now serve humanity in a good way and replace the innocent animals we test on.

10 years ago

That has nothing to do with testing on inmates…
Really, the problem is not testing on them but HOW they are being tested on.
There are rules and regulations that these researchers and scientists are not following. Their licenses should be suspended, if not revoked.

skylar richards
11 years ago

it is just mean for people to kill other people

Verified by MonsterInsights