Table of contents:
- General idea
It can be difficult to know how to write a persuasive essay involving prison. Whether prison is mainly for punishment or rehabilitation is a long and very important debate that has been going on for as long as prisons themselves. Some people believe that other human beings should only be locked up when and as long as they pose a danger to society or themselves, whereas others believe that prison is to keep ‘undesirable’ people off the streets or out of sight.
Australia’s own history and roots as a prison colony make this particular essay a very loaded one to write. So tread carefully, whether you are for or against incarceration generally, because there will be loud voices on either side of the debate.
However, treading carefully does not mean being uncertain or wishy-washy. In your introduction, as you write your thesis, take a firm stand, and back it up with all the arguments you have to hand. Persuasive essays benefit from a mixture of resources: part emotional appeal, part anecdote, part appeal to logic and reason, all backed up with hard stats insofar as you can get them. This is an important assignment writing for you, so take it seriously.
Here are a few samples of possible thesis statements.
Thesis 1: Prison is cruel and unusual punishment for most criminals, who find their lives forever ruined once they come out. Most crimes should not be punished with prison time.
Thesis 2: Prison may be rough and difficult, but criminals brought on themselves. If they don’t want to do the time, they shouldn’t do the crime.
Thesis 3: Prisons don’t involve rehabilitation nearly enough. It’s not enough to just lock someone away, you have to give them something to come out of prison to, so that they can be a responsible member of society in the future.
Thesis 4: There’s only one reason to deprive someone of their liberty by sending them to prison in today’s society, and that’s if they are an actual and legitimate unrepentant danger to others.
The body of your essay should bolster up your thesis. Make an outline of the points you want to make, and always tie them back in to your ultimate point, as set out in your thesis statement. You should have at least three points to make in defence of your thesis, and if you can’t think of that many, your thesis isn’t strong enough as a stance, so go back and revise it.
Your conclusion is probably the second most important part of your essay. Start it by summarising all your points briefly, then end your essay with a call to action. This gets your reader involved beyond just reading your essay. They should want to do what you’re asking them to do, by this point, and should understand why this needs to be done.
Here’s a few samples of possible conclusions.
Conclusion 1: Our very humanity cries out against locking people away for the rest of their lives. We know in our hearts that it isn’t justice, unless people are unrepentant and an actual danger. Take a good long look at your own conscience and see for yourself: would you want someone you loved locked away for years just for a minor drugs crime?
Conclusion 2: Prison is tough, and that’s fair. Criminals don’t deserve an easy life, or they wouldn’t be criminals. They should be kept out of the way of decent people. How would you feel if you were mugged or something, and the thug who did it was out again in a couple of months?