Ethical Dilemmas in the Criminal Justice System

Topics: Prison, Criminal justice, Criminal law Pages: 8 (3198 words) Published: April 14, 2013
Ethical Dilemma’s within the Criminal Justice System

Ethical Dilemmas within the
Criminal Justice System

No matter what job you have in the criminal justice system there will always be ethical dilemmas that arise. As a person who’s job is to enforce the law there is always a way to step over the boundaries whether it be unfair treatment to citizens, inmates or agencies. There is always areas of the career to consider and in order to make everyone happy there are steps that need to be taken. From the police officer on the street to the parole board there is always something that could come up which could have consequences for either decision so which is the right one?

The Parole Board.
Overcrowding can cause many issues within the prison as well as the family members and advocates. In this case we have a parole board who could potentially be facing many federal law suits if something does not get done to fix the overcrowding issue. “Severe overcrowding make safe operations of a prison system nearly impossible” (Specter,2010). This means that the inmates could be living in poor conditions where tempers will rise and then violence will set in (NUMBER ONE). The overcrowding issue not only effects the inmates but also the correctional officers safety. Diseases could spread easily which would increase the inadequate health care issues. The line of site for correctional officers decreases due to the amount of inmates, which would cause fights to break out easily. Money would be spent on damages due to fights as well (Specter,2010). Therefore, Robert the chair of the parole board needs to figure out what to tell the Governor in order to ease overcrowding and not face these lawsuits. The moral question here is should he broaden the parole eligibility? In this case the motivation for Robert is the fact that he wants to make the Governor happy but he also wants to make sure the community is happy as well. Releasing inmates could harm the community if they are let out due to lawsuits. If the lawsuits go through then the more violent offenders may be let out. If they were to broaden the parole eligibility then again, those who do not deserve to be let out will be free. If Robert were to do nothing there is potential for more overcrowding and poor conditions. Robert has a very tough decision but I believe that I have a great plan for him to implement. First, we know that “prisons are filling up with more nonviolent offenders” (Latchkey Lags, 1993). In Maryland there are 8,000 inmates above capacity. If I were Robert I would broaden the parole eligibility but it wouldn’t stop there. Just as it is in Maryland violent offenders would still have to spend at least 50% of their sentence in the prison (DPSCS,n.d), this will give them time to complete classes such as their GED, anger management or classes that will help them succeed outside of prison. Those who are nonviolent will still have to finish at least 25% of their sentence (DPSCS, n.d). These offenders who come into the prison with issues that are not considered violent will be the first to be paroled. Although the eligibility will be broadened, the parole officer will be more strict then usual. When an offender is outside in the community their officer will have strict rules to follow in order for the inmate to be watched. Also, I would allow those who haven’t yet finished the entire 25% of their sentence, I would allow them to get ankle bracelets. This would allow offenders to get out of the prison but yet still be monitored. This would also help the inmate’s family; the children will be able to have their mother/father back in their lives. “Children of inmates are six times as likely to be a delinquent” (Pollock, 2012 p.365). Therefore allowing the inmate to be released early due to overcrowding would allow the family to be back together and hopefully influence the children in a more positive way to stay away from delinquent acts. The ethical decision behind this...

References: 1. Biermann, P. J. (2006). Improving Correctional Officer Safety: Reducing InmatesWeapons. Corrections Today, 68(1), 68.
2. Callisto Jr., A. (2004). Security and Staffing in Jails. American Jails, 18(4), 4.
3. Latchkey lags. (1993, Aug 28). The Economist, 328, 24-24. Retrieved from
4. Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
5. Probable cause. (n.d.) West 's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. (2008). Retrieved March 6 2013 from
6. Ruddell, R. (2008). The Changing Role Of Wardens: A Focus on Safety And Security. Corrections Today, 70(5), 36.
7. Specter, D. (2010). Everything revolves around overcrowding: The state of california 's prisons. Federal Sentencing Reporter,22(3), 194-199. doi:
8. Smith,S.E. (2012) What is a district attorney? Retrieved March 6th 2013
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