Task 2 Essay: Criminals and Reoffending
Question: Many criminals re-offend after they have been punished. Why do some people continue to commit crimes after they have been punished, and what measures can be taken to tackle this problem?
Band 8+ Sample Answer:
(Intro) A considerable number of criminals commit further crimes after completing their prison sentences. I believe this is largely due to not enough focus on rehabilitation and a criminal culture within prisons. Possible solutions include more community sentencing, more emotional and psychological support and access to further education.
(Body 1) The main causes of high re-offending rates are a lack of rehabilitation and the existence of a criminal culture inside prisons. In many countries funding for prisons has become scarce and this has led to staff shortages and overcrowding. A recent study in the UK showed that prisoners can be cooped up inside their cells for as much as 23 hours a day, with very limited access to emotional or psychological support so that any underlying mental or social problems are not dealt with. This is compounded by a criminal culture which effectively turns prisons into a finishing school for career criminals. As a result, many recently released prisoners struggle to reintegrate into society and instead reach out to other ex-prisoners who may be still active criminals.
(Body 2) In order to deal with these issues, governments should use prisons more selectively and focus more on rehabilitation. Many convicted criminals who are sent to prison are not violent and therefore do not pose a danger to society. Instead of a custodial sentence, they could be forced to work on community projects, especially related in some way to the nature of their crime. This ensures they avoid the negative effects of being ‘inside’ and encourages restorative justice which has been shown to be beneficial for both victims and criminals. This could be supported by greater access to counselling as well as further education, in order to provide much needed support and provide meaningful alternatives.
(Conclusion) It is clear in my mind that an increase in recidivism is in part caused by issues around underfunding in prisons. Significantly more investment is needed for a comprehensive program of rehabilitation rather than merely punishing convicted criminals. Therefore, not only do we need to rehabilitate criminals but we also need to overhaul our prison system. (331 words)
Words: Nick Kemp, former IELTS examiner.
Image: Leo2014 / Pixabay.