Crime and Punishment: IELTS Reading Exercise

This IELTS reading exercise is based on the question type of matching sentence endings and covers the topic of crime and punishment. This article is adapted from a UK newspaper discussing the aims of prisons and contains very useful  vocabulary for a common IELTS topic. Download Free PDF of this passage: IELTS Reading Practice Crime & Punishment

The Old Debate: Punish or Rehabilitate

Debates over how to treat prisoners have gone on since imprisonment began: should the prison system leave inmates to fester in cold cells, with punishment and deterrence as the goal of incarceration? Or should it let them wander from classroom to games room, preaching rehabilitation into society as its main aim?

With over 83,000 prisoners currently locked away, England and Wales have a staggering imprisonment rate of 150 per 100,000 of the population. Our prisons have been officially overcrowded since 1994; nearly 14,000 current inmates are serving indeterminate sentences. If lowering the number of criminals is the reason behind imprisonment, recent figures point to a failing system: almost three quarters of under-18s are reconvicted within a year of release. As James Bell, an American lawyer and prison reform activist, said: “As it stands now, justice systems are extremely expensive, do not rehabilitate, but in fact make the people that experience them worse.”

In response to worldwide alarm over the ineffectiveness of how we manage criminals, a growing number of prisons are embracing a new style of incarceration. By giving inmates more responsibility, comfort, and freedom within the prison walls, governors say they are offering prisoners the chance to change. As the Prison Radio Association spokespeople said: “Reducing reoffending is of benefit to everybody. Equipping prisoners with skills and confidence is crucial in bringing down reoffending rates.”

Complete the sentence by choosing the correct ending.

  1. Since prisons were established, it has been considered whether or not …
  2. Putting criminals behind bars to reduce the crime rate is clearly not working…
  3. The new approach to dealing with punishment is  ………
  4. One of the most effective ways to reduce crime figures is to …

Choose the letter (a-g)

  • a) because many under 18’s are criminals.
  • b) the aim of imprisonment should be to put people off committing crime or to rehabilitate them.
  • c) in answer to the lack of success with the way criminals are currently dealt with.
  • d) provide equipment to prisoners.
  • e) the goal should be to provide warmer cells.
  • f) help offenders develop useful skills.
  • g) according to the current crime numbers.
Answers
  1. b
  2. g
  3. c
  4. f

Adapted from Telegraph

Vocab Builder
  • inmates = prisoners
  • deterrent = discouragement / preemption
  • deter = to put people off doing something / dissuade
  • incarceration = imprisonment
  • staggering = overwhelming
  • indeterminate = unknown / unstated
  • convict (noun) = criminal / convict (verb) = to sentence or to condemn
  • reoffending = commit a crime again 

 

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Crime: Vocabulary Exercise

Crime is a common topic in IELTS writing task 2 and occasionally it also appears in IELTS speaking part 2 and 3. Below is an exercise to help you practice this vocabulary. This exercise is aiming for students aiming for band score 7 and above. To get a full vocabulary list for crime and punishment, follow the link.

Instructions

Fill in the gaps using the list of vocabulary provided. You may need to change the form of the words to make the sentences grammatically correct. Words may be used more than once.

arrest  /  suspect  /  guilty  /  convict  /  sentence  /  innocent   /  penalty  /  commit

  1. Before handing out a ………………, the circumstances of a crime should be taken into consideration.
  2. The police should be sure of their facts before ……………. someone for a crime.
  3. Criminals who are found …………….of a major crime should receive a heavy ………………….
  4. Criminals …………. of serious crimes should receive the maximum …………..
  5. If a person is found to be …………., they should receive compensation for wrongful arrest.
  6. People …………. of terrorism should be on a watch list.
  7. Having a fixed …………… for each type of crime does not take into account the motivation for ………… the crime.
Answers
  1. sentence
  2. arresting
  3. guilty / sentence
  4. convicted or guilty / penalty or sentence
  5. innocent
  6. suspected
  7. penalty / committing

 

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IELTS Cause Solution Essay Band 9 Model Answer

The model answer below is for an IELTS cause and solution essay  in writing task 2 on the topic of crime and punishment.

Many offenders commit more crimes after serving the first punishment. Why is this happening, and what measures can be taken to tackle this problem?

A large number of criminals who serve their first prison sentence, leave prison only to reoffend. This is mainly because of the lack of rehabilitation and difficulty finding regular employment once released. There are a number of solutions which should be implemented to deal with criminals who reoffend.

Firstly, the reason for most first-time offenders committing crimes again, once they have been released from prison, is due to the lack of rehabilitation whilst in prison. In other words, offenders are not given a chance to retrain and learn new skills for their future or develop a deeper understanding of correct moral behaviour and instead mix with other criminals, which only strengthens their criminal intentions. Secondly, repeat offending is also owing to the difficulty in finding employment after being released. As a result, many of them struggle financially which leads them back to crime, regardless of the consequences.

There are two effective solutions to the problem of repeat offenders. One way to tackle this is to ensure that all criminals entering prison are given the chance to retrain with useful skills which will hopefully ensure them a job after they have served their sentence. By doing this, it will help them reintegrate back into society and give them some means of supporting themselves financially. Another method of dealing with criminals who reoffend is to have more supervision and checks in place when they are back in society. This solution would hopefully prevent them from taking any chances and deter them from reoffending because they are being so closely watched.

In conclusion, having training in prison and also close observation when first time offenders are released are effective in dealing with the issue. If governments implemented these solutions, crime figures would soon drop.

Comments

This essay address the task completely. Both causes and solutions are given and developed with relevant ideas. Linking is used not only effectively but also flexibly. Paragraphing is also used effectively to help the reader. There is a range of sentence structures and also tenses used. Vocabulary is also flexible with a good range of less common words. Essay Length: 290 words

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