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2. Compare your answers with a partner.

4. After the interviews

1. Following is a paraphrase of the interviews with David and Amy. Fill in the blanks using your own words. In some cases, you will need to write more than one word.

David says that the ______________________ and the ______________________

exacerbate the problem of juvenile crime. He believes that kids are essentially ______________________. He thinks they need more ______________________ systems and after-school activities. He also thinks they need good role models. However, he believes that if someone does commit a crime, the punishment should be ______________________, but ______________________.

Amy says that to deter people from committing crime, you have to talk about social factors such as whether there are enough ______________________ for everyone and enough social support systems. But if convicted criminals are sent to jail, we need programs to ______________________ them, such as drug treatment programs and ______________________ programs. Unfortunately, many of the programs that she thinks are needed have been ______________________.

Amy believes that one reason there are so many recidivists is because criminals have a bad experience in jail. When prisoners are released, Amy thinks they need ______________________ to help them go back into society.

2. Compare your answers with a partner. Remember that your answers will probably not be exactly the same.

Speaking 1 Supporting your opinion

1. In the interviews, both David and Amy support their viewpoints. Look at the summaries of their arguments below. For each summary, underline the main idea, circle each piece of supporting information, and highlight linking words.

  1. David believes that in order to control juvenile crime, we should try to prevent it from happening. He says that to begin with, we should have more structured after-school activities for young people. We should also have Big Brother/Big Sister programs. Additionally, we need better social support systems. And, finally, we should have harsher punishments for crimes because these would act as deterrents.

  2. Amy believes that it is important to try to deter potential criminals from committing crimes. But her main point is that we should have rehabilitation procedures for criminals. First of all, there should be more programs to rehabilitate convicted criminals when they are in prison. Furthermore, these programs should have a psychological as well as an educational component. Last but not least, there should be bridge programs to help released criminals enter productive, crime-free lives.

2. Read the statements below. Then choose one with which you either agree or disagree. Support your ideas with explanations and examples.

  • Some people are born with more aggressive tendencies than others.

  • White-collar crime is more serious than blue-collar crime.

  • Men are more likely to commit crime than women.

  • Violence on TV leads to violence in society.

  • The main reason for juvenile crime today is the decline of the traditional family.

  • Crime is the most serious problem in society today.

3. Explain your opinion to a small group, using transitional phrases to link your supporting information. Be prepared to answer questions about what you have said.

4. As a class, discuss the ideas and make a master list of the supporting details you gathered for each argument.

/Adapted from Academic listening encounters: life in society. Student’s Book. Kim Sanabria/

Reading ‘The War on Drugs’

1. Pre-reading task

1. The expressions below are used in the text. Discuss with a partner what they mean. Underline the ones you do not understand and ask other students or use a dictionary for help.

the war on drugs

the drug problem

drug dealing

drug addicts

drug related homicides

drug overdose

drug education programs

drug treatment

drug abuse

legalization of drugs

2. Compare your answers with the class.


Trying to predict what information will be in a text before you read it is a good habit. It motivates you to read the text, and encourages you to pay attention to what you read to find out if your predictions were correct.

In this text you will read about the debate on whether or not to make some drugs legal. Work in a group. Use your own knowledge of the topic to predict what will be said in the text. Use the following questions as a guide.

  1. What drugs do you think will be discussed?

  2. What arguments for legalizing drugs do you think will be presented?

  3. What arguments against legalization do you think will be presented?

2. Reading The War on Drugs

(1) Over the last few decades, the drug problem in the United States (and in many other industrialized countries) has become considerably worse. In 1981, there were about 3 million drug addicts in the United States; today there are around 6 million. The number of drug overdose deaths and drug-related homicides has also increased. This is in spite of the fact that the government has spent more and more money in try­ing to solve the drug problem. The fight against drugs is often referred to as a "war" or "battle," and most experts now believe the battle against drugs has been a failure. They say it has failed because the gov­ernment has focused on controlling the problem through laws and pun­ishments, rather than through drug education and treatment.

(2) The failure of the law-enforcement approach has led to calls for other approaches to solving the problem, including the decriminalization and the legalization of drugs. Advocates of decriminalization think that drug users should no longer be labelled as serious criminals and that the punishments for drug use should be significantly reduced. Advocates of legalization believe there should be no restriction on drug use at all, and that individuals should be able to buy drugs the same way they buy cigarettes and alcohol today.

(3) Those who are in favour of legalization argue that the current drug laws do more harm than good. They argue that the current laws waste police time because while police officers are busy arresting people for smoking marijuana, they are not doing the work of arresting robbers and murderers. Further, they argue that the high cost of illegal drugs and the enormous amounts of money to be made from drug dealing encourage more serious crimes. For example, many drug users turn to stealing to support their habit and police can sometimes be bribed to "look the other way." Finally, those who support legalization believe that if drugs were legalized, the huge amounts of money currently spent on law enforcement could be used for drug treatment and education, which would drastically reduce drug use.

(4) Those who oppose legalization respond that, if drugs are legalized, drug use and addiction will skyrocket. They point to the experience with alcohol, which was prohibited in the United States in the 1920s. At the end of this period, called P


the period (1920-1933) when the sale and consumption of alcohol was illegal in the United States.

rohibition, the consumption of alcohol apparently soared by 350 percent (Bennet 1989). Others feel that the use of drugs is a stepping stone to other crimes - that, for example, the use of marijuana leads to the use of heroin or cocaine, and on to more serious crime. If drug use is stopped, this trend will be prevented.


After alcohol was decriminalized in the U.S., its consumption increased. Would decriminalizing drugs lead to an increase in drug use?

5) Another aspect of the debate on whether or not drugs should be legalized involves the question of individual rights. Some people call for legalization because they feel they have the right to take drugs - that it is none of the governments business. They think that laws governing this behavior are an invasion of individual rights. On the other hand, others argue that the government should try to protect us from harming ourselves.

(6) Finally, there are those who believe that the problem of widespread drug abuse and crime can only be solved when the govern­ment attacks the root causes of the problem: poverty, racism and inequality (Currie 1993). They propose that the government should deal with the factors that cause the problem by providing employment for all, increasing the minimum wage, improving health care for the poor, offering paid family leave, and providing affordable housing.

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