Some People Believe That There Should Be Fixed Punishments

Some people believe that there should be fixed punishments 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 these views and give your own opinion.

This essay question is from Cambridge IELTS 7 Test 2 Writing Task 2.

Sample Essay

There have been competing views about how crime should be punished. While having a fixed punishment for offenses of the same type might help prevent tragic outcomes, I believe they should be judged individually to reflect what people may have needed to do in unusual situations.

On the one hand, a fixed punishment for offenses in the same category might help in the prevention of certain tragedies. For instance, it was reported that a man fatally shot his 16-year-old daughter in their home after he mistook her for an intruder. If there had been a fixed punishment for shooting, the father would not have fired the gun so recklessly. However, I do not recommend adopting a one-size-fits-all justice system since the above example is just a rare case which was over-reported by the media.

On the other hand, there are unusual situations where it might be necessary to do something that is technically illegal. Take for example Facebook’s former employee Frances Haugen, who disclosed to regulators tens of thousands of the platform’s internal documents about how the platform knowingly hosted hate speech and illegal activity. Her violation of workplace confidentiality was definitely necessary since it was good for the whole society. I agree with this argument because, otherwise, no one would dare to reveal the misdeeds of powerful people and organizations. 

In conclusion, although some tragic incidents might be prevented through fixed punishments, I believe it is better to judge each crime by the circumstances so that people would not be deterred from doing what they might need to do in unusual circumstances. 

263 Words

Can We Use “Penalty”?

The word “penalty” is not generally used in the context of criminal punishment, except when referring to capital punishment (“the death penalty”). For “breaking a rule” outside of criminal matters it might be possible to speak of “penalties.” So, don’t worry about repeating “punishment”.

How to Vary Your Language

Fixed Punishments for Each Type of Crime
  • a fixed punishment for offenses of the same type
  • a fixed punishment for offenses in the same category
  • a one-size-fits-all justice system
Second Sentence in the Question Statement
  • to judge each crime individually
  • to judge each crime by the circumstances
Crime
  • offenses
  • criminal activity
  • illegal activity

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