• Nick Kemp

Task 2 Essay: Crime and Punishments

Question: Some people believe that there should be a fixed punishment for each type of crime. Others, however, argue that the circumstances of an individual crime, and the motivation for committing it, should always be taken into account when deciding on the punishment. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Band 8+ Sample Answer:

(Intro) A fair justice system is a critical part of a modern society. Although some think that there are benefits to having one-size-fits-all punishments for individual types of crime, I agree more with those who believe that context and motivation should be considered carefully before passing sentences.

(Body 1) The main benefits of using fixed punishments are speeding up the processing time, as well as saving money for both governments and ultimately taxpayers. Fixed penalties would mean reduced manpower, paperwork and time spent in courtrooms, which would lead to considerable savings for the public purse. For example, government lawyers would spend less time debating cases, judges would become almost obsolete, and citizens would be freed from the burden of jury duty. Theses are all significant costs, which are currently covered indirectly by taxpayers.

(Body 2) On the other hand, I would argue that fixed punishments are fundamentally unfair and immoral. Firstly, they go against the very foundation of the justice system: fairness. Currently, a defendant is presumed to be innocent, and has the right to a fair trial where they are represented by a lawyer who will explain the motivations and circumstances that led to the crime being committed. Most people would agree that a person stealing food from a store because they are living in extreme poverty, and are desperate to feed their family, is not the same as career thieves who regularly steal to make a living. This shows that giving the same sentence to ‘different’ crimes would be unethical.

(Conclusion) In conclusion, although saving time and money could be good reasons to apply fixed punishments, it would go against principles of fairness and morality on which the justice system is built. Therefore, on balance, I believe that individual motivations and circumstances must be taken into consideration before passing sentences. Values such as fairness and morality are worth paying the price. (307 words).

Words: Nick Kemp, former IELTS examiner.

Images: Venita Oberholster / Pixabay.