An opinion essay

An opinion essay

Learn how to write an opinion essay.


Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and tips and do the exercises.

Reading text

Some people think that some types of criminals should not go to prison. Instead they should do unpaid work in the community. To what extent do you agree?

Owing to the great variety of crimes that can be punishable by prison, some people argue that not all criminals are the same and it would therefore be more appropriate to give certain criminals community service instead. I agree that in some cases, prison may not be the best solution and community service would probably have more benefits.

One justification given for prisons is to keep society safe by removing criminals from the outside world. So the first thing to consider is if someone who has broken the law is a danger to other people. In the case of violent crime, there is an argument to keep the perpetrator away from society. However, burglary or possession of drugs, for example, does not involve violence against other people so the criminal does not present a direct danger to anyone in the community. Keeping these types of criminals in prison is expensive for the taxpayer and does not appear to be an effective punishment as they often commit the same crime again when they come out of prison.

Personally, I also believe punishments should reform people so they do not reoffend. A further reason not to put these people in prison is that they may mix with more dangerous and violent criminals, potentially committing a worse crime when they are released. By keeping them in the community, helping others, they not only learn new skills, but they could also develop more empathy and care towards others. If this occurs, society can only benefit.

Critics of this more rehabilitative approach to crime believe that justice should be harsh in order to deter people from committing similar crimes and that community service could be less likely to have that effect. However, there is very little evidence to suggest that long prison sentences deter criminals.

In conclusion, putting criminals who are not a danger to society in prison is expensive and, in my opinion, ineffective, both as a deterrent and as a form of rehabilitation. Community service for non-violent crimes benefits both society and the offender. That said, it would be useful to have more data to work out whether community service or prison is more likely to stop someone reoffending. I strongly believe that decisions on how best to deal with criminals should be based on evidence of what actually works.


  1. Introduce your essay by restating the question in your own words.
  2. If the essay asks you to what extent do you agree?, make your opinion clear throughout. You can either agree, partially agree or disagree with the statement, explaining and justifying your opinion.
  3. The structure should be:
    • Introduction
    • The first reason why you agree/disagree
    • The second reason why you agree/disagree
    • The third reason why you agree/disagree (if you have one)
    • Conclusion
  4. Use phrases to organise and link your ideas, e.g. Owing to … , One justification for … , The first thing to consider is … , A further reason … , In conclusion ... .
  5. If you do not have solid evidence for your ideas, use modal verbs such as might, may or could (e.g. they could develop more empathy and care) or other tentative phrases (e.g. it does not appear to be an effective punishment).
  6. Conclude by restating your opinion and summarising your two or three main arguments.


Worksheet79.77 KB

Language level

Average: 4.5 (8 votes)
Do you need to improve your English writing skills?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English writing skills with our live online classes and personal tutoring courses.

Submitted by Ehsan on Tue, 12/10/2021 - 07:27


yes, I do. the criminals who aren't dangerous for the people can be active in the social. this idea has a many benefits for criminals, government and other people. the first thing is this that they will be active in the social and this has positive effect on them. on the other hand, government spending and taxpayers will reduce.

Submitted by Ugulhan on Mon, 12/10/2020 - 07:55

I agree with that point, if the perpetrators have committed some small crimes which are not dangerous to against people then society should work with them. They have to re-educate them, and then society can be deterred the small committed crimes from around us. If they have not been concluded from those empathies of society, and they had reoffended the crime, then should take a harsh punishment against them.

Submitted by Giulia B on Sat, 04/07/2020 - 17:23

Personally, I agree with the idea of making a distinction among crimes: stealing food from a supermarket because a person is poor and hungry is different from robbing a bank with a gun , threatening people and maybe killing them if they do not do what you are asking to do. Nevertheless, crime is crime and should be followed by a punishment somehow, at least to deter other people to copy it. Additionally , I think that community service could be a solution for minor criminals to serve his o r her sentence and to give an advantage to the community he or she lives in. To sum up, it's an undoubtedly delicate issue and I believe that politicians and statesmen should pay particular attention to this problem and find an appropriate answer.

Submitted by Tayyeb on Tue, 16/06/2020 - 17:14

Owing to the great variety of crimes, some people argue that not all criminals are the same, it be therefore appropriate to give certain people a community service instead. I agree in some cases prison may not be the solution and community service would probably have more benefit. One justification given to keep the society safe by removing the criminals from the outside the first thing to consider for those who have broken the law is danger to the the case of violent there is an argument to keep the perpetrator away from the society.However crimes such as burglary and drugs does not cause direct harm to the society. Keeping these kind of criminals cost the taxpayers and may not be the effective form of punishment, and the offenders may commit the same crime once they come out of the prison. Personally, i also believe punishments should reform the offenders so that they do not repeat the same offense Again. Another reason not to mix them up with these dangerous criminals they might get more violent. Potentially doing worse crimes once they are released. By keeping them in the community, helping others, they not only learn new skills, but they could also develop more empathy and care towards others. If this occurs, society can only benefit. In conclusion i would say putting criminals in the prisons are more expensive and ineffective.those who are not dangerous for the society, instead they can serve the community well. It would be useful to find out more data Wether the community service will more likely to stop the criminals from reoffending.i strongly believes that the decision should be based on the evidence and the results how and what actually works.

Submitted by Obasanjo on Fri, 12/06/2020 - 11:34

Well, I would not agree with that statement because the main purpose of prison which is to deter not only the offender but also the prospective offender might be jeopardise. Personally to me crime is crime and no level to it whatsoever. This is because anyone who committed the so called minor crime could be capable of committing the major one.
Profile picture for user Magedelabd

Submitted by Magedelabd on Sun, 10/05/2020 - 22:19

I don't agree . Criminal is criminal and it has to be punishment.

Submitted by Abdullah116 on Fri, 27/03/2020 - 22:21

Owing to community service is one variety of punishments, it could be a better solution instead of prison. I agree that in some crimes, community service could be better than go to prison. It is known that prison to make society safe, there are some crimes harm people directly, such as murder, steal, those crimes worth prison, due to their harm people. On the other hand, there are crimes do not harm people and not dangerous. Such as tax avoidance, break some law roles, those criminals should go to community service instead of prison. Personally, in my opinion, there are two kinds of crimes, are crimes which are not dangerous to other people, crimes cause harm people, I think that the first kind, community service is better than prison. But other crimes that are harmful to other people worth prison. Although community service is a punishment, it may have many benefits, such as train, experience gain. AS a result, it will be easy finding a job later for those criminals. In conclusion, if crimes were not harmful to other people, community service will be better than prison.

Submitted by ADELE on Tue, 05/03/2019 - 14:39

It's usually said that when a person has done something bad like a crime, It could be directly send to prison. Personally i think it's necessary first to see deep inside the nature of the crime before deciding to send a perpetrator in prison. I agree that community service can be better than prison for some crime