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English 103 Essay 2: The Death Penalty / Capital Punishment

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Your assignment is to write a persuasive essay of 5-7 pages (1,000-1,500 words) on the 

subject of the death penalty. You should answer the following question in your essay: 

Is the 

death penalty an appropriate punishment for violent criminals in the United States, or should it 

be abolished nationwide?

Write an essay expressing your own opinion on the death penalty, in 

which you attempt to convince the reader to take some action (either agree with your point-

of-view, actively protest against the death penalty, or take some other action).

Your essay must have a title, a thesis statement, and five or more paragraphs. Use 

prewriting techniques to generate ideas if you need to. The purpose of a persuasive essay is to 

convince the reader to agree with a point of view or to take an action. The author of such an essay 

uses appeals such as 

ethos, logos,



as well as other techniques (such as 




) to deliver his or her message to the reader.

You may refer to the three persuasive appeals (

ethos, pathos, and logos

) and/or use the 

terminology created by Stephen Toulmin in your essay. For example, you may identify the 

following elements in the sources you analyze: 




(evidence), and 


(link between the two). 

You must use evidence from each of the following sources to support your 


You may also use additional sources related to the subject of the death penalty:


The film 

The Green Mile.

Do the events of the film (specifically the tortuous execution 

of a guilty man and the execution of an innocent one) affect your opinions on the death 

penalty? (You may also use Stephen King’s original novel 

The Green Mile

as a source.)


Two or more of the following essays:

a.   Zachary Shemtob and David Lat, “Executions Should be Televised” (pages 62-63 in 

the Barnet book). 

b.   Edward I. Koch, “Death and Justice: How the Death Penalty Affirms Life” (from our 

course website).

c.   Adam Gopnik, “The Caging of America” (pages 571-580 in the Barnet book). 

d.   David Bruck, “The Death Penalty” (from our course website).

Please see the next page for a sample works cited list


Your final draft must be word-

processed, according to the Modern Language Association style guidelines. You may also use 

information from the 

www.bedfordstmartins.com/barnetbedau to support your points. Relax and 

have fun with this assignment!


A Sample Persuasive Outline

Title: Google is Not So Bad

Thesis Statement: “In his essay “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, Nicholas Carr claims that the 

Internet is “. . . chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation” (para. 4). 

However, based on my own experience, technology such as the Internet makes it easier for me to 

work, write, and socialize with my friends.”

I.    Introduction

A.  Hook

B.  Thesis

II.  An analysis of Carr’s essay

A.  Carr’s thesis

B.  Carr’s support

III. Technology at Work



Fahrenheit 451

B.  Example: my experience (data entry)

IV.  Technology for Writing

A. Example: “Cellphones Stifle Students”

B. Example: my experience (research)

V.  Technology for Socializing

A. Example: 

The Matrix

B. Example: my experience (social media)

VI. Conclusion

A.  Restatement of thesis

B.  Satisfaction of the reader