Ethical Treatment of Prisoners
March 1, 2013
The issue of how prisoners should be treated is an ongoing issue that may never die down. Many believe that prisoners have lost their right to be treated ethically when they chose to break the law to the extent that they were removed from society. Others say that just because they are imprisoned they should still be treated ethically within their imprisonment. People’s opinion often changes from one side to the other once they are either a victim of a crime, or have a loved one do something that ends them up in prison. Perhaps it is best stated by Noel Lawrence, “Though inmates may not possess a strong moral fiber, the prison is a site of numerous ethical issues for guards, lawmakers and officials who run correctional systems. Every policy and procedure must balance the interests of the tax payer, the prison staff, and the incarcerated population. Not surprisingly, there is a substantive lack of consensus on proper standards for ethical issues in correctional systems. (Lawrence, N 2012) Many people think that these prisoners should only get the bare minimum required in order for them to survive as they are there to be punished for committing a crime against society. They see it as their tax money going to support these people while they receive free food, clothing, and housing. Some may even argue that the prisoners get to enjoy the same things they would in free America only they do not have to lift a finger to obtain it. Tax payer money goes to things like the officers pay to maintain the facility 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, the Electricity to run the facility and the water. One problem that exists when people feel like this is inmates tend to be treated poorly or even abused because they are locked away from a society and even if their opinions and words reach the world outside of prison their words are less credible because most people tend to listen to someone in a position of authority rather than the words of an inmate who is thought of as untrustworthy and defiant. This has at times led to things like rape and abuse inside women’s prisons. One example is in 2009 there was a $100 million lawsuit awarded to female inmates that were incarcerated and abused by male guards inside the Robert Scott Correctional Facility in Plymouth, MI. There were over 500 reported cases of rape and abuse there from male guards to female inmates. This amount awarded ended up being a settlement between the state of MI and the inmates involved in the case. (Seidel, J 2009). Though inmates are not always honest people and have done some bad things it gives no right to be raped and manipulated into situations which they have very little control over if any. The defense for the state did not argue that these things were not going on; rather they argued that these things were not going on to the extent that these women were saying it was. (Seidel, J 2009) This is not uncommon in types of situations where a group of people have authority over the freedom of another group of people. So if you take away a prisoners right to be treated ethically it can bring about an abuse of authority. When you face the facts, a lot of the people in prison do the same things as the guards that keep them inside do. They do the same things the judges, lawyers, prosecutors, and police officers do on a regular basis. The inmates have just been caught doing them. Things like drunk driving and usage of illegal substances is something that many people in a position of authority do on a regular basis and if they are caught they are either overlooked or they receive a slap on the wrist and receive minimum punishment for the crimes they have committed. One way this issue might be solved is from the Virtue Ethics viewpoint. These prisoners have broken the law, become incarcerated and are serving a sentence for a crime committed, so why don’t we let them work for privileges while...
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