Prep for the Departmental Exam

  1. Read through the following complete text speech; note where there are outlining indications.
  2. At the bottom of the print-out à Complete a main point and sub point outline prior to answering the questions.
  3. Go back and circle the best answer: Find the best choice for the entire selection or the underlined portion.


Capital Punishment


Lee Hawkins, Jr.



1     Imagine being ready to die. On January 7, 1988, at 3:19 a.m., Texas began to execute convicted murderer Robert Streetland by pumping lethal drugs into his veins. Before he was pronounced dead seven minutes later, the telephone rang in the death chamber. The governor’s office had received word that the United States Supreme Court was ready to consider a new motion of appeal. In the words of a prison spokesman, “The Supreme Court wanted to know where we were in the process, but by then it was too late.”



a)     Focus on Target audience


b)     Attention getter


c)     Using evidence


d)     Example of comparative advantages order


e)     None of the above

2     I stand before you today to discuss the issue of capital punishment. Should the death penalty be administered to those who are deemed guilty of murder in a court of law? Based upon your answers to my class survey, if this decision were left up to this class, 75 percent of you would sentence the guilty defendant to death by way of lethal gas, lethal injection, hanging, or electrocution.


a)     Attention getter


b)     Previewing Main Points and Thesis


c)     Using audience analysis


d)     Informative speech


e)     Featuring small groups


3     In my speech, I want to persuade you to reassess your view of capital punishment. My arguments will address the following issues relative to capital punishment: the injustice of capital punishment, the immorality of capital punishment, and capital punishment as a deterrent to crime. First of all, allow me to discuss the injustice of capital punishment.


a)     A main point

b)     Red herring fallacy

c)     Preview statement

d)     Evidence

e)     None of the above


4     Evidence shows that capital punishment is a discriminatory means of punishment. Some refer to capital punishment as the poor man’s justice. In other words, those without the capital get the punishment. As criminologist Hugo Adam Bedeau has stated, often people are sentenced to death and executed not because they have been found to be uncontrollably violent, but because they are too poor to purchase a first-rate lawyer to defend them. To quote Bedeau, “People who have been executed for capital crimes have historically been the losers in an arbitrary lottery, the victims of the disadvantages that almost always come with poverty.”


a)     Revealing the need

b)     Revealing the plan

c)     Revealing the practicality

d)     Using Expert testimony

e)     All of the above



5     This discrimination is not only economic, but it is also racial. As Supreme Court Justice William Brennan has stated, “Race casts a lot of shadows on the capital sentencing process.” The most compelling evidence of this comes from a study conducted by Professor David Baldus of the University of Iowa. After studying nearly 2,500 murders in Georgia, Baldus concluded that no matter whether the killer be black or white, when it came to sentencing, the victim’s race held firm as a primary determinant of life or death. People convicted of murdering whites, Baldus concluded, were eleven times more likely to be sentenced to death row than people convicted of killing blacks. This tends to confirm the analysis of Welsh White, of the University of Pittsburgh Law School, that it is built into the system that those in the predominant race will be more concerned about crime victims of their own race. Justice? I think not.



a)     Main point


b)     sub point


c)     sub sub point


d)     Thesis


e)     Central Idea

6     In addition to being discriminatory, capital punishment is also immoral. In fact, one reason why capital punishment is immoral is because it is discriminatory. This was stated especially well by Daniel Hoye, General Secretary of the United States Catholic Conference. “The system under which criminals are sentenced,” he says, “is such that race often plays a prominent role in determining whether they will live or die. The fact that capital punishment is applied in a racially discriminatory way has been one of the reasons for our continued opposition on moral grounds to the application of the death penalty.”


a)     Transition between main points


b)     Establishing credilbilty


c)     Using imagery


d)     A hasty generalization


e)     Focusing on the reason

7     The immorality of capital punishment is not a matter of statistics or hard scientific fact. Instead, it is a matter of belief. The Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill.” The Bible does not say, “Thou shalt not kill except in cases of murder, treason or capital crimes.” It simply says, “Thou shalt not kill.”


a)     Using Logos

b)     Using Evidence

c)     Using a standard

d)     Using ethos

e)     Using all of the above

8     Proponents of the death penalty maintain that anyone who is lowly enough to commit murder deserves to die. But I ask you, how can we show that killing is wrong by killing someone ourselves? When we execute people, we are telling the rest of the world, and our children, that murder is acceptable. How can we maintain that murder is wrong if we are committing the same act that we allegedly denounce? In other words, two wrongs don't constitute a right. I agree with Dr. Rupert Theobald, a criminologist and statistician from the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, who stated that the message that capital punishment sends is that vengeance is acceptable. Morality? I think not.


a)     Reasoning from Principle


b)     Reasoning from specific instance


c)     Analogical reasoning


d)     Using either-or fallacious reasoning


e)     Using slippery slope reasoning

9     But there is yet a third issue that we must confront, and that is whether capital punishment is an effective deterrent to crime. And this is a very controversial point with strong opinions on both sides. In truth, the small number of executions in the United States in recent years makes it hard to judge the value of capital punishment as a deterrent. It may be that the death penalty deters crime, but there is no clear-cut evidence which proves that it does. As the National Academy of Science concluded in its analysis of the death penalty, and I quote, “Available studies provide no useful evidence on the deterrent effect of capital punishment.”


a)     Second main point

b)     Third sub point

c)     First sub sub point of the second main point

d)     Third main point

e)     None of the above

10   Indeed, there is at least one strong reason to believe that capital punishment does not work as a deterrent. As the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau recently reported in its report on capital punishment, a major problem with the concept of deterrence is that it requires the would-be murderer to contemplate the consequences of his or her crime. In other words, if the murderer is not likely to think about the prospect of capital punishment before committing a crime, or is not able to think about it, then capital punishment cannot logically work as a deterrent to the commission of that crime. As the Columbia Law Review reports, “Many people who commit murder may not be able because of mental illness, mental retardation, or excessive emotion to realistically accept the danger of being caught, convicted, and executed. It is very unlikely that capital punishment would deter many of the people who are committing capital crimes.” Deterrent? I think not.


a)     Sub point


b)     Sub Sub point


c)     Main point


d)     Hasty generalization


e)     First and Fourth answer.

11   In conclusion, we must realize that capital punishment is discriminatory. We must realize that capital punishment is immoral. And finally, we must realize that capital punishment is not an effective deterrent to crime. I would urge all of you who support capital punishment to reassess your views and to see its injustice, its immorality, and its ineffectiveness as a deterrent to crime.


a)     Conclusion for a persuasive speech that calls for action

b)     Conclusion for a speech that asks for passive acceptance




I.       The injustice of capital punishment

A.   Capital Punishment is discriminatory

1.    Discriminatory because of economic concerns

2.    Discriminatory because it is racial     

II.     The immorality of capital punishment

A.    Immoral because it is discriminatory

B.    Immoral because it goes against the Bible

C.    Immoral because it is illogical to punish killing with killing.

1.    Murder is morally wrong

2.    Capital punishment is murder

3.    Capital punishment is morally wrong  

III.  Capital punishment as a deterrent to crime.

A.   No studies prove CP is deterrent

B.    Murders are not thinking about consequences

1.     Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau testimony.

2.     Columbia Law Review report