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:
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
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:
(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 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
c. Adam Gopnik, “The Caging of America” (pages 571-580 in the Barnet book).
d. David Bruck, “The Death Penalty” (from our course website).