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I tried some interesting ideas in this essay – in fact, they aren’t my ideas but they were reported by one of my students.

It’s a good challenge to try writing an essay with someone else’s idea – keeps things interesting!

Dave

IELTS Essay: Criminals Reoffending

Recent research suggests that the majority of criminals who are sent to prison commit crimes after they are released.

Why is this the case?

What can be done to solve this problem?

Historically, most people who were incarcerated commit crimes again after being released from prison. In my opinion, this is related to economics and psychology and the chief solutions are governmental.

The causes of high recidivism rates are identical to the original explanations for the crimes in question. The vast majority of criminal activity can be traced back to poverty. Individuals who are wealthy enough to afford a good standard of living rarely have a motive for crime. However, those who lack financial means to live a decent life are more likely to commit crimes and this is exacerbated for past criminals who struggle to apply successfully for work with a past offense on their permanent record. Moreover, there are psychological reasons that may also persist. Many criminals had difficult upbringings and do not have access to trained therapists who can help them work through their issues. These causes combined are the reason that prison often fails to rehabilitate inmates.

The ideal solutions should be enacted by the authorities. Firstly, governments must make consistent efforts to ensure released convicts can support themselves financially. This might involve small stipends to help prisoners adjust but the focus should be on education. An individual who has earned a high school or university degree or learned a skilled trade has little reason to commit crime after being set free. Secondly, governments could overhaul rehabilitation methodologies. Though society is becoming increasingly secular, there is research that suggests recidivism rates are considerably lower if a prisoner has faith in a religion. Concern for one’s immortal soul is a powerful incentive for ethical behavior.

In conclusion, many criminals reoffend due to economic and psychological reasons and governments must take decisive action to counter this pattern. Looking at successful models in other countries is also advisable.

Analysis

1. Historically, most people who were incarcerated commit crimes again after being released from prison. 2. In my opinion, this is related to economics and psychology and the chief solutions are governmental.

  1. Paraphrase the overall essay topic.
  2. Write a clear opinion. Read more about introductions here.

1. The causes of high recidivism rates are identical to the original explanations for the crimes in question. 2. The vast majority of criminal activity can be traced back to poverty. 3. Individuals who are wealthy enough to afford a good standard of living rarely have a motive for crime. 4. However, those who lack financial means to live a decent life are more likely to commit crimes and this is exacerbated for past criminals who struggle to apply successfully for work with a past offense on their permanent record. 5. Moreover, there are psychological reasons that may also persist. 6. Many criminals had difficult upbringings and do not have access to trained therapists who can help them work through their issues. 7. These causes combined are the reason that prison often fails to rehabilitate inmates.

  1. Write a topic sentence with a clear main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your main idea.
  3. Develop it with specific or hypothetical examples.
  4. Keep developing it fully.
  5. Add more deatil.
  6. Include some long and complex sentences.
  7. Finish the paragraph strong.

1. The ideal solutions should be enacted by the authorities. 2. Firstly, governments must make consistent efforts to ensure released convicts can support themselves financially. 3. This might involve small stipends to help prisoners adjust but the focus should be on education. 4. An individual who has earned a high school or university degree or learned a skilled trade has little reason to commit crime after being set free. 5. Secondly, governments could overhaul rehabilitation methodologies. 6. Though society is becoming increasingly secular, there is research that suggests recidivism rates are considerably lower if a prisoner has faith in a religion. 7. Concern for one’s immortal soul is a powerful incentive for ethical behavior.

  1. Write a new topic sentence with a new main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your new main idea.
  3. Include specific details and examples.
  4. Add as much information as you can and make sure it links logically.
  5. Develop the example fully.
  6. If you have a second idea, be sure it is also developed.
  7. And the ending is powerful.

1. In conclusion, many criminals reoffend due to economic and psychological reasons and governments must take decisive action to counter this pattern. 2. Looking at successful models in other countries is also advisable.

  1. Summarise your main ideas.
  2. Include a final thought. Read more about conclusions here.

Vocabulary

What do the words in bold below mean? Make some notes on paper to aid memory and then check below.

Historically, most people who were incarcerated commit crimes again after being released from prison. In my opinion, this is related to economics and psychology and the chief solutions are governmental.

The causes of high recidivism rates are identical to the original explanations for the crimes in question. The vast majority of criminal activity can be traced back to poverty. Individuals who are wealthy enough to afford a good standard of living rarely have a motive for crime. However, those who lack financial means to live a decent life are more likely to commit crimes and this is exacerbated for past criminals who struggle to apply successfully for work with a past offense on their permanent record. Moreover, there are psychological reasons that may also persist. Many criminals had difficult upbringings and do not have access to trained therapists who can help them work through their issues. These causes combined are the reason that prison often fails to rehabilitate inmates.

The ideal solutions should be enacted by the authorities. Firstly, governments must make consistent efforts to ensure released convicts can support themselves financially. This might involve small stipends to help prisoners adjust but the focus should be on education. An individual who has earned a high school or university degree or learned a skilled trade has little reason to commit crime after being set free. Secondly, governments could overhaul rehabilitation methodologies. Though society is becoming increasingly secular, there is research that suggests recidivism rates are considerably lower if a prisoner has faith in a religion. Concern for one’s immortal soul is a powerful incentive for ethical behavior.

In conclusion, many criminals reoffend due to economic and psychological reasons and governments must take decisive action to counter this pattern. Looking at successful models in other countries is also advisable.

Answers

For extra practice, write an antonym (opposite word) on a piece of paper to help you remember the new vocabulary:

historically in the past

incarcerated in prison

commit crimes do a crime

released let out

prison jail

related concerning

economics finance

psychology study of the mind

chief solutions main remedies

governmental authorities

causes sources

high recidivism rates going back to prison a lot

identical the same

original explanations first causes

in question written about here

vast majority most of

criminal activity committing crimes

traced back goes back to

poverty being poor

wealthy enough having money

afford can buy

good standard of living nice living standards

rarely not often

motive incentive

lack financial means not enough money

live a decent life have a good life

exacerbated made worse

struggle fighting

apply successfully get the job

past offense crime committed before

permanent record always on your official documents

moreover furthermore

psychological reasons mental reasons

persist continue

difficult upbringings bad childhood

access get into

trained therapists psychologists

work through figure out

issues problems

combined put together

rehabilitate inmates make prisoners reform

ideal perfect

enacted by made into law

authorities people in charge

consistent efforts keep trying

ensure released convicts make sure people who get out of prison

support themselves financially be able to live on their own

small stipends a little bit of money

adjust adapt

focus concentrate

education schooling

earned made

skilled trade professional job

little reason not much cause

set free allowed out of jail

overhaul rehabilitation methodologies completely change the way prisoners are fixed

increasingly secular less religious

suggests shows

considerably lower much less

faith believing in god

religion Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.

concern care

immortal soul what lives after you die

incentive reasons

ethical behavior moral actions

take decisive action take steps

counter work against

pattern trend

successful models good examples

advisable recommended

Pronunciation

Practice saying the vocabulary below and use this tip about Google voice search:

hɪsˈtɒrɪkəli
ɪnˈkɑːsəreɪtɪd 
kəˈmɪt kraɪmz 
rɪˈliːst 
ˈprɪzn
rɪˈleɪtɪd 
ˌiːkəˈnɒmɪks 
saɪˈkɒləʤi 
ʧiːf səˈluːʃənz 
ˌgʌvənˈmɛntl
ˈkɔːzɪz 
haɪ rɪˈsɪdɪvɪzm reɪts 
aɪˈdɛntɪkəl 
əˈrɪʤənl ˌɛkspləˈneɪʃənz 
ɪn ˈkwɛsʧən
vɑːst məˈʤɒrɪti 
ˈkrɪmɪnl ækˈtɪvɪti 
treɪst bæk 
ˈpɒvəti
ˈwɛlθi ɪˈnʌf 
əˈfɔːd 
gʊd ˈstændəd ɒv ˈlɪvɪŋ 
ˈreəli 
ˈməʊtɪv 
læk faɪˈnænʃəl miːnz 
lɪv ə ˈdiːsnt laɪf 
ɛksˈæsə(ː)beɪtɪd 
ˈstrʌgl 
əˈplaɪ səkˈsɛsfʊli 
pɑːst əˈfɛns 
ˈpɜːmənənt ˈrɛkɔːd
mɔːˈrəʊvə
ˌsaɪkəˈlɒʤɪkəl ˈriːznz 
pəˈsɪst
ˈdɪfɪkəlt ˈʌpˌbrɪŋɪŋz 
ˈæksɛs 
treɪnd ˈθɛrəpɪsts 
wɜːk θruː 
ˈɪʃuːz
kəmˈbaɪnd 
ˌriːəˈbɪlɪteɪt ˈɪnmeɪts
aɪˈdɪəl 
ɪˈnæktɪd baɪ 
ɔːˈθɒrɪtiz
kənˈsɪstənt ˈɛfəts 
ɪnˈʃʊə rɪˈliːst ˈkɒnvɪkts 
səˈpɔːt ðəmˈsɛlvz faɪˈnænʃəli
smɔːl ˈstaɪpɛndz 
əˈʤʌst 
ˈfəʊkəs 
ˌɛdju(ː)ˈkeɪʃən
ɜːnd 
skɪld treɪd 
ˈlɪtl ˈriːzn 
sɛt friː
ˈəʊvəhɔːl ˌriːəˌbɪlɪˈteɪʃən ˌmɛθəˈdɒləʤiz
ɪnˈkriːsɪŋli ˈsɛkjʊlə
səˈʤɛsts 
kənˈsɪdərəbli ˈləʊə 
feɪθ 
rɪˈlɪʤən
kənˈsɜːn 
ɪˈmɔːtl səʊl 
ɪnˈsɛntɪv 
ˈɛθɪkəl bɪˈheɪvjə
teɪk dɪˈsaɪsɪv ˈækʃ(ə)n 
ˈkaʊntə 
ˈpætən
səkˈsɛsfʊl ˈmɒdlz 
ədˈvaɪzəbl

Vocabulary Practice

I recommend getting a pencil and piece of paper because that aids memory. Then write down the missing vocabulary from my sample answer in your notebook:

H______________y, most people who were i________________d c____________________s again after being r____________d from p________n. In my opinion, this is r_________d to e_____________s and p_____________y and the c_________________s are g_________________l.

The c__________s of h_____________________s are i_____________l to the o_________________s for the crimes i________________n. The v______________y of c__________________y can be t____________k to p___________y. Individuals who are w______________h to a__________d a g_____________________________g r__________y have a m________e for crime. However, those who l_________________________s to l________________e are more likely to commit crimes and this is e______________d for past criminals who s___________e to a___________________y for work with a p________________e on their p__________________d. M____________r, there are p_______________________s that may also p__________t. Many criminals had d__________________________s and do not have a________s to t___________________s who can help them w_____________________h their i__________s. These causes c_____________d are the reason that prison often fails to r______________________s.

The i________l solutions should be e_______________y the a_____________s. Firstly, governments must make c_________________s to e________________________s can s________________________________y. This might involve s_________________s to help prisoners a__________t but the f________s should be on e____________n. An individual who has e_________d a high school or university degree or learned a s_____________e has l________________n to commit crime after being s__________e. Secondly, governments could o_____________________________________s. Though society is becoming i______________________r, there is research that s_____________s recidivism rates are c____________________r if a prisoner has f_______h in a r__________n. C_______n for one’s i___________________l is a powerful i______________e for e__________________r.

In conclusion, many criminals reoffend due to economic and psychological reasons and governments must t______________________n to c_________r this p________n. Looking at s_______________________s in other countries is also a____________e.

Listening Practice

Learn more about this topic by watching videos from The New York Times YouTube channel below and practice with these activities:

Reading Practice

Read more about this topic and use these ideas to practice:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/will-past-criminals-reoffend-humans-are-terrible-at-guessing-and-computers-arent-much-better/

Speaking Practice

Practice with the following speaking questions from the real IELTS speaking exam:

Crime

  1. Why do people commit crimes?
  2. How can criminals be rehabilitated?
  3. What is the purpose of punishment?
  4. Are punishment and revenge the same?
  5. Will crime become less common in the future?

Writing Practice

Practice with the related IELTS essay topic below:

Watching TV shows and movies about crime is becoming more and more popular.

Why is this?

What effect does that have on society?


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