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Access to defendants' past criminal record - helpful and fair or not?


waterolily 2 / 3  
Apr 10, 2011   #1
In task 2, candidates are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The issues raised are of general interest to, suitable for and easily understood by candidates entering undergraduate or postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration. Work limit is at least 250 words.

Depending on the task type, candidates are assessed on their ability to present a solution to a problem to present and justify an opinion; to compare and contrast evidence, opinions and implications; to evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence or argument.

Marking: Candidates are assessed on their performance on each task by certified IELTS examiners according to the 4 criteria of the IELTS Writing Test Band Descriptors (task acheivement/response, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy).

I appreciate any comment on my writing. Thanks!

Under British and Australian laws a jury in a criminal case has no access to information about the defendants' past criminal record. This protects the person who is being accused of the crime.

Some lawyers have suggested that this practice should be changed and that a jury should be given all the past facts before they reach their decision about the case.

Do you agree or disagree?


The current British and Australian laws under a judiciary system, does not allow access to defendant's previous criminal record during a trial. I believe these laws are in placed on the ground that "a defendant is innocent unless proven guilty". However, some lawyers strongly oppose them and insist on a reform to allow prosecutor to present defendant's past criminal record as part of juries' consideration before reaching a verdict of the case. They argue that previous records reflects high propensity of the defendant to recommit a crime.

Nonetheless, the lawyers' arguments are not without any basis. It is true that ex-convict has higher tendency to recidivate. "Recidivism", according to an online source, "Wikipedia", is explained simply as the percentage of former convict to commit a crime again. There is a recent national study in the United States showing 70% of the ex-convicts ended up in the jail again several years later after their release. The main cause for recidivism is believed to be difficulties in re-integrating back into the society. Considering a high statistical significance in recommitting a crime among ex-prisoners, it is vital to present defendant's past criminal record in court to strengthen the basis for prosecution.

On the other hand, many contend that by presenting past records, it may cloud or sway the mind of the juries. Due to large proportion of juries made up of commoners, in other words, people of the non-law related profession, who may be judging a defendant based on a pre-conception derived from the previous criminal records which may not be true. However, the juries are people chosen through careful and stringent selection process. They are picked to act the role of weighing evidence and testimony to determine if facts presented are true and can be taken as proof. If so, I believe the juries will carefully weight the defendant's past criminal records to be considered relevant or not to the case without prejudice or biasness.

I agree that the current law should reveal the defendant's past criminal record in court due to the higher rate of recidivism among ex-prisoners and the faith that we have in our wise juries to reach a rational verdict. I believe in doing so, there will be more justice in place. The security and the life of the public will be more protected as well.

EF_Kevin 8 / 13,334 129  
Apr 12, 2011   #2
Teachers don't usually like it when you use Wiki as a source. That is because any of us can change Wiki at any time! So... it is not as good to cite Wiki as it is to cite a professional journal or reputable website.

...that by presenting past records, it prosecutors may cloud or...----The prosecutor is the one doing the action in this sentence.

... may be judging a defendant based on a pre-conception derived from the previous criminal records which may not be true.---Wow, I have to pause here and just mention how impressed I am with your eloquent use of language. Please check out the EF_Contributor pager and work with us to help kids write as well as you do!

:-)

However, the juries are people chosen through careful and stringent selection process. They are picked to act ...If so, I believe the juries will carefully weight the defendant's past criminal records to be considered relevant or not -----No you don't! You know very well that they will make superficial judgments and act based on prejudices. :-) Ha ha.... I know that, too. That is what people do, even if chosen carefully.

This is a strong essay. Cite more sources and it will be even better.
OP waterolily 2 / 3  
Apr 13, 2011   #3
Turbina: Thanks for the grammar correction, will definitely pay more attention to those mistakes.

Kevin: Thanks Kevin, will definitely cite a more reliable source in my future work. And pertaining my second point, i am not entirely convinced when i first wrote that. Do you have any other points that i may consider elaborating on it?
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,334 129  
Apr 14, 2011   #4
And pertaining my second point, i am not entirely convinced when i first wrote that. Do you have any other points that i may consider elaborating on it?

Hey, I hope you know I was just joking when I said, "No, you don't!" etc.

I was just trying to challenge you a little.

Well, this is how I would do it:
However, the juries are people chosen through a careful and stringent selection process. They are picked to act the role of weighing evidences and testimony to determine if/whether facts presented are true and can be taken as a proof. If so, I believe the juries will carefully weight We hope that juries will weigh the defendant's past criminal records and determine whether it should be considered relevant or not to the case without prejudice or bias, but human error is unavoidable.

I made a lot of changes above: weigh, bias...

:-)


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