Ethics in Criminal Justice

Topics: Prison, Ethics, Morality Pages: 7 (1786 words) Published: September 14, 2014

Ethics In Corrections
Okefenokee Technical College
CRJU 1400 Ethics and Cultural Perspective for Criminal Justice November 25, 2013

Ethics in Corrections
Police and other law enforcement officers deal with the concept of what is right and wrong more often than many other fields. Particularly, correctional officers in prisons and jails often face ethical dilemmas every day (McConnell, 2006). There are many daily scenarios where a correctional officer makes choices that involve their emotions and morals. The practice of making ethical choices is especially important in policing because using your emotions or moral values does not always create a satisfactory solution (Anonymous, 2002). While officers in correctional facilities are in positions of power over prisoners who have made unethical decisions, it is important that they do not abuse this power (Martin, 2001). There are many ethical issues that are very specific to prisons (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2005). One of the biggest ethical issues within correctional facilities is the subject of sexual misconduct (McConnell, 2006). While in recent years laws have been passed to try and rein in this problem, there are still many complaints made about sexual abuse in prisons and jails; around 60% of those complaints are against facility staff members rather than prisoners (Hunter, 2010). Another issue within correctional facilities is discrimination or misconduct performed by officers pertaining to race and/or gender. Other ethical issues include mistreatment of mentally ill patients as well as drug abuse and trafficking (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2005). It is the duty and obligation of a correctional officer to make responsible, moral, ethical decisions concerning these issues within correctional facilities. Although prisons are filled with people who are considered unethical, it is important to encourage those people to behave ethically. In order to do this, it’s important for correctional officers to act morally and respectively. This way, they can act as a positive role model for prisoners (Misha, 2006). In general, prisoners are considered to be reprehensible and hard. It is theorized that the negative experiences that led them to a correctional facility should, if possible, be made up for with a number of positive experiences on behalf of the correctional officers. While this can often be considered an overly optimistic view, it is still supported as a viable option to explore. In any case, inmates are aware of what their correctional officers say about their colleagues, about the way they act with respect to race, gender, and religious influences and they pay attention to all mistakes made by correctional officers (Misha, 2006). Therefore, it is the duty of a correctional officer to treat all inmates equally and to follow all guidelines set by their state, no matter how insignificant those guidelines may seem (Martin, 2001). In this way, being a correctional officers is a profession where it is not acceptable to make mistakes. As the saying goes, “You’re only as good as your last mistake.” This is one of the main reasons that some correctional officers try and cover up their mistakes and/or problem areas instead of requesting assistance (California, 2007). This code of silence, which is especially prominent on the west coast, is easily prevented as long as correctional officers follow the code of ethics and take fault for whatever mistakes have been made. This is one of the simplest ethical problems within prisons, and is just as simple to solve. Another simple problem is the issue of reciprocity in prisons (Misha, 2006). This is when one or more correctional officers develop a dependence on prisoners to do their jobs for them. In return for their help, those officers will choose to turn the other way after various infraction. While this can seem like a simple or minor issue, it...

References: Anonymous. (2002, 12 10). Discretion, Community, and Correctional Ethics. Retrieved 10 1, 2013, from
California, S. o. (2007). Ethics and Culture. Retrieved from California Performance Review:
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2005). Substance Abuse Treatment for Adults in the Criminal Justice System. Retrieved 10 1, 2013, from
Hunter, G. (2010, 5 25). Sexual Abuse by Prison and Jail Staff Proves Persistent, Pandemic. Retrieved 10 1, 2013, from Prison Legal
Klugiewicz, G. T. (2010, December 28). Top 10 correctional issues for 2011. (D. Johnson, Interviewer)
Martin, K. (2001, 8 27). The Powerful Role of Ethics in Corrections. Retrieved 10 2, 2013, from
McConnell, T. (2006, 10 19). Ethics In Corrections. Retrieved 10 1, 2013, from
Misha. (2006, May 11). Corrections Officers and the Ethics of Dealing with Prisoners. Retrieved from Yahoo! Voices:
Sciences, N. A. (2007). Insitute of Medicine (US) Committee on Ethical Considerations for Revisions to DHHS Regulations for Protection of Prisoners Involved in Reasearch. DC: National Academy Press (US).
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