I am a big fan of PvP and I am an even bigger fan of death penalties. I understand that Cryptic does not want a death penalty, but I feel that a lot of the PvP community will not feel the true excitement that STO PvP can offer without some sort of risk vs reward. That is why I offer the following, simple, solution.
In privately created PvP matches allow us to place items and credits up as a wager for the battle. Let the winner of the battle grab the rewards. Simple as that.
This same concept can be applied to the public PvP system as well. You can have PvP matches or even tournaments that cost Credits to enter and have credits and items as rewards. The simple act of paying to enter the match will be enough for many people to feel an associated risk.
I also propose that STO has a PvP leader board based on not only DPS, but one that lists stats based on everything from race to ship type, to the amount they heal, etc.