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Should society punish criminals more harshly?

CIE Comments




An excellent introduction which considers a global overview setting the tone for the paragraphs to follow. It demonstrates that humankind uses a veil of civilisation to hide more basic behaviour. Such behaviour is both cruel and fundamental. A philosophical and mature opening.

Highlights the apparent compassion of the changes in the USA. Yet perceives that death or infinite imprisonment are equally ghastly, implying that changes are only superficial.

Looks at the argument maintained by those who want harsher punishment. Retribution is as bad as the crime.

Leads to an assertion that retribution may be counter-productive, by issuing a challenge. Again a mature argument and effective assessment of the criminal mind is suggested, without being laboured.

Points out the weighty argument that certain punishments of a retributive nature are irrevocable, with a pertinent example. Introduces the notion of a divine, creative purpose behind humankind.

Looks at the motivation of the law maker, questioning a fundamental desire for revenge which puts society on an equal footing with the criminal.

Third World use of severe punishment can be political. A valid point which is juxtaposed with the question of who has the right to impose capital punishment.

A conclusion that draws together the threads of the essay with another relevant example used.

Conclusion from the above comments


This essay shows a consistently mature approach to the topic. It is written in a persuasive way, with a wide range of vocabulary and an effective use of questions.

It shows a global awareness and a liberal attitude that is supported by sound argument.

Whilst the question does not ask for 'capital punishment' this essay emphasises that as the severe punishment, whilst not doing so with distraction.

Retribution, revenge, divine creation, political manipulation are all covered well.

What the candidate could have included to make the essay more embracing would have been a consideration of other forms of punishment (community service, fines, etc); the financial burden of a prison system; rehabilitation; the need to tackle the causes of crime; and education.

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