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.

Task 1

Task 2

Task 3


Worksheet79.77 KB

Language level

Average: 4.2 (17 votes)
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Submitted by Rita25 on Thu, 24/11/2022 - 01:21


There are many things to consider in punishing criminals or law offender, Technically Speaking, Prison sentence varies entirely depending on a Country's legal system.

I partially agree in reinforcing community service to those non violent criminals, whereas harsh punishment for violent criminals who committed felonious crime. This perspective is reflected on my understandings in a community where social injustice is prevalent. In my country misdemeanor crime and felony crime offender are detained in the same prison cell, they only differ in the duration of prison sentence. This is where the serious societal issues of crime rate initially rooted, non violent offenders are mixed up with serious offenders, doing and smuggling drugs all a while in prison.

Further reasons to justify harsh punishment for felonious crime is it can act as deterent for potential criminals, while community service may reinforce less serious offender to reflect on their own actions and give back to the community. Moreover it may help them develop empathy towards others.

In my conclusions punishment should vary on the severity of the crime of the perpetrator, Criminals should be legally convicted and fairness in prosecution of Criminals must be reinforce.

Submitted by Alejandra Mart… on Mon, 08/08/2022 - 15:33


I do agree that people who have done serious crimes have to be locked in prison, but the rest of them it would be better to keep them busy with comunity work, maybe to pick up trash or plant trees, things like that in order to benefit society and also for them to learn new habilities.

Submitted by Jurason on Mon, 09/05/2022 - 16:38


It's complicated question. Of course, crime's circumstances mean a lot when we discuss the reasons, but social circumstances mean much more when we discuss the punishment. We might to observe punishment system from very top to down. But we don't have enough time for this and my English doesn't allow to do it:-D Nevertheless, the point is: punishment system is determined by social habits, assumptions and generally by the culture. Judicial system is one of the results of long-lasting complicating process of building society. As a last resort, we might to discuss about certain country, not about whole humanity.
Regarding my opinion, I consider that drugs and non-violent crimes shouldn't be punishment with real prison sentences. I think right to keep and bear arms could be one of decision (yes, it would be a lot of accidents for the first time), and drug decriminalization could be another one.

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Submitted by Hennadii on Thu, 16/12/2021 - 09:55


Personally, I think that nobody was born a criminal. Every child comes to this world like an innocent angel, like a white sheet of paper, and only we - adults - are responsible for what was written on this paper. If a child was born in some problem family (alcoholics, drug takers, or criminals) it would have the only way in the future, and this way is not about good education and normal life. Unfortunately, this is how things are.
So, in my opinion, and according to my experience in my local and school, most criminals became criminals because of circumstances.
And of course, the worth way we can treat them is to put them into prison. Especially if we're talking about young criminals.
So yes, I agree with this opinion and we definitely should give non-violence criminals some social works and - this is important - we have to give them the opportunity to get proper education and useful skills so they can find a job and will have a chance to avoid criminal society in future.

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.