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.

Preparation

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.

Tips

  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

Discussion

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Language level

Average: 4.2 (17 votes)
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Submitted by kimmie on Thu, 11/01/2024 - 05:31

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Good day Sir/Madam,

I would like to ask about the expression ‘So the first thing is to…’. In academic and formal writing, should I avoid using ‘thing’ or ‘so’ or is it still fine?
Thanks a lot for taking your time to read this. Hope to hear from you.

Your sincerely,
Kimmie

Hi kimmie,

Thanks for your question. In academic and formal writing, there is a general preference for precision over vagueness, so generally speaking it's better to avoid this usage of so and thing and use more precise and academic terms when they are available (e.g. Therefore, the first factor/issue to consider is ...).

However, if you search academic writing, you will find writers do use thing sometimes, especially in fixed phrases (e.g. the first thing / the same thing) or technical terms (e.g. the Internet of Things). Some writers might also use more general terms first before moving onto more precise terms.

(Note: The essay on the page above is in a somewhat formal style but not very formal.)

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Hi Jonathan

This is immensely valuable for me.
Thank you so much for your swift response.
Hope you have a nice day.

Kim

Profile picture for user Ramiro Solana

Submitted by Ramiro Solana on Tue, 26/09/2023 - 21:19

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In my country it is often debated whether community services are better than prison for certain crimes. I think it's pretty obvious that it should be an option for less important faults. However, sometimes it happens that a judge decides to grant this benefit to some type of powerful criminals who cause more significant damage to society than others who do not have the same possibility, such as financial criminals or corrupt government agents. In my opinion, these types of sentences can have a bad impact on people, since they see that these behaviors are not severely punished and are somehow protected by the law. In conclusion, I agree that certain types of crimes should avoid prison, but I believe that before implementing it, the society must agree on which crimes will be able to enjoy this possibility to ensure that justice is fair for all.

Submitted by aaron.uzumaki on Wed, 01/03/2023 - 01:03

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please approve for testing

Hello aaron,

We check all comments before publishing them, which is why it's taken some time for your comment to be published.

Normally we delete a comment like this -- and we deleted the other one you made -- but have let this one through so you can see that it works. 

We are a small team, so it can sometimes be several hours before comments are published -- just wanted to tell you for the future.

We look forward to hearing more from you!

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by anabomfietii on Fri, 03/02/2023 - 19:21

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The subject of how criminals should be punished is complicated, there are a lot of different opinions defending their points of view. There are two main ideas the first is arresting all the offenders, and the second idea is separating those not dangerous to society, and sending them to work in the community.
In my opinion, I agree with the second idea, because there are many expenses with the prisons and the prisoners, so if lessen the population in this environment the conditions and the quality could be better than if there were overpopulation, avoiding justice being done right.
Furthermore, these people aren't violent and dangerous to others, so with bad company in the prison, they might become bad people too. In this case, it's an awful idea to mix a different kind of person.
Therefore, it's an excellent suggestion to oblige these people to do work in society, but with supervision in the right way and strictly.

Submitted by rebecca_bl on Thu, 02/02/2023 - 16:30

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On account of the differences between several types of crimes, not all criminals should be sent to prison. It is suggested that giving certain offenders community service would be more appropriate than just jailing them.

Honestly, I completely agree that the right way to protect people from harm is to imprison criminals who conduct violent crimes that endanger human physical health. Nevertheless, this penalty may be ineffective with offenders who have administrative guilts or non-violent offenses. Since they often commit the same crime after getting out of prison, this is just a temporary punishment to ensure the security of citizens for a certain period. The nature of the problem is these crimes originate from greed and bad habits which lead to their deviant behaviors but have not yet resulted in such severe consequences that affect human life.

From my perspective, the government would rather reform these types of offenders than deter them as a kind of punishment. It is better to have an alternative that perceptively impacts these people’s awareness which is to make them do community service. Jailing these criminals just increases their hatred and develops antisocial personality. By keeping and controlling them in a community, besides learning new skills, they amend their bad manner as well as develop more empathy and care towards others.

Given these points, the application of punishment should be based on the nature of each specific crime. Prisons should only be used for perpetrators committing directly dangerous crimes to people's lives. Making non-violent criminals do community service is more of a practical way to optimize tax wasted for prisons as well as give them a chance to fix their wrong behaviors.

Submitted by Daniel Tessore on Fri, 16/12/2022 - 22:20

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There are several types of crimes and for each of them, a different sentence is dictated. A paramount question to be considered is whether community servers are more accurate than prisons for some crimes.

To begin with, community servers would help and support criminals through specialized psychologists. Not only would community servers help and support them, but also it would give them jobs to help them give the society back a contribution in return.

In addition, prisons only contribute to worsening the situation owing to the fact that criminals will commit crimes again. The key to excellent behavior is learning. If they learn suitable habits, they will adapt to society and help it.

Furthermore, it is necessary to have empathy with criminals and not judge them because their hate increases when they are condemned in prison. A further reason for this is that hate feeds hate. Nevertheless, some criminals must be in jail due to their danger on the streets. It is difficult to know that a person who kills someone else, is going to change even if he/she receives help from psychologists.

In contrast, most of society believes that all criminals should be in prison. However, prisons must be all comfortable like a hotel in order to bring for the prisoners a place to recover themselves. The reason why they must live in appropriate conditions is due to his mental health. For instance, in Norway, prisons are like hotels because the government considers that criminals need a second chance to live in a community

To conclude, it would be suitable for all criminals to live in accurate prisons in order to recover themselves. Despite the cost that kind of prisons are supposed to take, they are worth paying for them. In my opinion, safety is priceless and is more important than the cost.