This lesson is based on task 2 of the IELTS Writing exam, in which you write an essay. There is a model answer and six exercises, practising one aspect of writing. You must complete each exercise before moving on to the next.
Topic: crime and punishment
Task type: direct question + suggest solution
Key skills: using -ing forms and infinitives with and without ‘to’ to form grammatically correct sentences
You should spend 40 minutes on this task.
Write about the following topic.
In many places in the world, people who commit crimes are punished by being put in prison.
Do you think putting criminals in prison is the best form of punishment?
What other solutions would be effective?
Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your knowledge or experience.
Write at least 250 words.
In countries like the United States, incarceration is one of the most common ways to punish criminals. While putting offenders in prison does remove them from society and might offer rehabilitation in some cases, it is both very expensive for taxpayers and questionable in effectiveness. I believe community service rehabilitation programs and execution may be more successful alternatives.
Some contend that imprisoning people who break the law is an ideal solution to crime. Most importantly, it incapacitates criminals so they cannot continue to commit acts which endanger others. Supporters also argue that denying offenders their freedom by confining them to a cell in a penitentiary is fair retribution for what they have done. As well, prisons aim to rehabilitate lawbreakers, ultimately giving them a chance to become law-abiding citizens. However, research is inconclusive about how effective prisons are at doing these things. Opponents of imprisonment point out that correctional facilities are not only unsuccessful in rehabilitation but cost the tax-paying citizen a lot of money, as governments must pay to house, feed and treat criminals. All in all, I believe incarceration is not the best form of punishment.
Alternatives to prison include community service programs or conditional sentences which allow offenders to continue to live with and support their families while being rehabilitated. This would be appropriate for first-time offences of a lower severity, for example theft or assault. It costs the taxpayer less money and may be more effective in helping someone turn their life around. If, however, the crime committed is extremely violent or severe—for example, pre-meditated murder or rape—or if the individual shows no remorse, then more serious punishments like execution must be considered. Although the death penalty seems barbaric to some, it does act as a strong deterrent in many countries, and certainly costs less than keeping someone behind bars.
In conclusion, I would argue that putting criminals in prison is often not the best form of punishment. Instead, governments should use more effective and less socially disruptive forms of rehabilitation to give these people a second chance. For repeat offenders and remorseless criminals, I believe capital punishment is the answer.