Criminal Justice: Ethical Dilemmas and Decisions

Subject: Law
Pages: 7
Words: 1771
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: Bachelor

In the arena of criminal justice, ethical delineations concentrate on issues. Ethical issues are described as the social interrogations often relating to the governmental social control strategies and the inherent impact on the governed. This study aims at presenting lowering police corruption, the role of law, ethical issues for judges, wrongful conviction factors, corrections, and punishment rationales as well as sexual relationships and abuse in prisons.

Reducing Police Corruption

Corruption is the practice of transforming prospects generated by an individual’s power for personal benefits while taking advantage of the people he or she is designated to attend to. The wrongdoing is endemic in the majority of the developing states where even the police are involved in money extortion. Nevertheless, several administrative changes and officer-specific suggestions have been raised to lower the corruption and misconduct amongst the law enforcement officers.

Improving Screening

The success of the screening tools depends on the firings or educational assessment scores in ascertaining the degree of outstanding or deteriorating performance. Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is the frequently used pre-employment tool by law enforcement bureaus for screening the security recruits (Pollock, 2017). The requisite behavioral styles and personality attributes tailored for law enforcement fitness are measured using the Inwald Personality Inventory (IPI).

Education and Training

In-service courses and ethics training play fundamental roles in the enhancement of ethics for all police divisions. The training also utilizes themes such as “Ethical Policing is Courageous” which encourages officers to undertake prompt interventions in assisting their colleagues to abstain from misconduct before committing it. Therefore, moral values training in policing is designed to promote conformity to the customary conceptualization and character of law enforcement officers.

Integrity Testing and Body Cameras

Integrity testing involves placing a security officer in a tempting position where he or she is likely to break the law and monitoring whether the personnel will devise an authentic solution. The strategy has been in use by New York City since the 1970s (Pollock, 2017). Additionally, the police units have progressively procured and armed their employees with body cameras to curb corruption. The officers’ behavioral conduct improves on realizing they are being filmed.

The Role of Law

Laws are prescribed and scripted morals and ethics of a society. The rules serve as an enforcement tool and proclaim the right code of conduct. Natural law asserts that certain law is integral to the ordinary world and is discoverable through purpose. Positivist law denotes the human-constructed fallible decrees that are transcribed and enforced by the people (Pollock, 2017). Notably, criminal law administers the moral principles of a society.

Ordinances and statutes stipulate how businesses are operated either in private or public. There exist laws touching bad activities like house burglary and misuse of employer’s resources. However, there are also Good Samaritan laws which render someone a criminal by the virtue of witnessing or passing by the scene of the accident without assisting (Pollock, 2017). Fortunately, the regulations offer protection to the aiding individuals from being sued in case of victims’ death.

Law ensures behavior governance through furnishing agreements and enlightening the society on the morally acceptable and intolerable doings. The influence of rules is highly conspicuous at the extremes where it augurs social transformation or serves as a countering force to changing credence systems. The extremist law includes rules regarding same-sex marriage, gun control, drugs, and abortion (Pollock, 2017). Although the law is dynamic to the evolving systems of belief, it acts as the ultimate collective instruction.

Finally, the law offers a safety blanket for people against the overwhelming authority of the government in advancing oppression and dictatorship. The regulations serve as a social contract since the state officials cannot inflict any harm or treat the people in an undesirable manner without the desecration of the rule (Pollock, 2017). Nevertheless, the law also prescribes individual behavioral limits to prevent wrongdoings against the government.

Ethical Issues for Judges

The judges direct the defense attorney, prosecutor, and other trial proceedings participants from the commencement to the culmination, and assist in conserving process integrity. Though judges are faced with human weaknesses like anyone else, they are expected to be authoritative, knowledgeable, and impartial (Pollock, 2017). Despite the possibility of bias exacerbation as they are elected, judges serve as a symbol of justice for all people in courtrooms.

Conflict of Interest

Canon 1 of the Model Code of Judicial Conduct stipulates that a judge is required to advocate and encourage judicial fairness, integrity, and unconventionality, as well as elude indecorum and indecency appearance. A judge is discouraged from exhibiting any emotional, shared, or economic interests in the prevailing cases to avoid giving questionable rulings. Judges who show interest in a case are required to recuse themselves to uphold impartiality.

Use of Discretion

The judicial code of conduct demands all judges to undertake all judicial obligations objectively and justly while invoking and defending the law. Although the judges are endowed with discretion to assign indigent inquiries to attorneys, appointing one’s associates, unless based on expertise, amounts to unethical conduct (Pollock, 2017). Consequently, to avert adverse outcomes on the defendants, procedures have been laid to guide appointments for serious cases.


Judges are tasked with sentencing wrongdoers and still obtain some skills to steer their decisions. The resolutions by the judges are anchored at minimum partiality on personal standards as no inconsistency should be exhibited between verdicts of distinguished judges in the matching society. Federal sentencing guidelines were enacted to minimize the judgmental disparities through the provision of a specified sentence when handling particular cases to maintain the legal limits.

Factors in Wrongful Conviction

Wrongful convictions arise where a factually innocent defendant is indicted or the prosecution does not yield a sentence or is dropped. The wrongful verdict is often influenced by erroneous forensic proof, poor attorney general representation, weak case, honest witness flawed identity, and state extortion. Though the prosecutors are pivotal in assisting individuals to be freed, they are sometimes associated with being the facilitators of unjust convictions.

Mistaken Testimony of Eyewitness

Incorrect statements from the eyewitnesses may not necessarily encompass any transgression by the prosecutors or police. Nevertheless, inappropriate behavior by the law enforcing officers or prosecutors may influence unfair identification of persons. Explorations have delineated that human beings form poor witnesses as they believe they make precise pinpointing during trials (Pollock, 2017). Science-based strategies utilize sequential recognition and double-blind associations to improve the accurateness of the collected information from witnesses.

False Confessions

Police may instigate untrue confessions from an individual through the propagation of coercive or even deceptive interrogations which are afterward used by the prosecutors. Police have been implicated in incidences where they included crime elements that only perpetrators could recognize; through coaching and correcting the witnesses. Fabricated admissions are so potent that they make juries convict victims even when there is an introduction of vindictive proof.

Confirmatory and Racial Bias

Confirmatory favoritism occurs when an individual disregards substantiation that is conflicting with their beliefs. The paradigm leads to wrongful persuasions since prosecutors overlook evidence that is likely to counter their model of the case. Additionally, numerous systems of criminal justice are inclined to prejudging the accused’s faults based on extreme and pure racial chauvinism. Countless errors have been observed in cross-racial identification and stereotyping amongst marginalized defendants.

Rationales for Punishment and Corrections

The logic behind punishment and corrections is derived from the social contract. Convincingly, the social contract theory asserts that protecting oneself from being oppressed by others calls for surrendering the aggression liberty against them. Rendering the authority to the regime to govern us gives it the power to punish the transgressors (Pollock, 2017). Corrections are undertaken for such purposes as incapacitation, retribution, rehabilitation, reform, and deterrence.

Retribution and Prevention Rationale

The retributive motive of correction is to reprimand the individual reprobates because they warrant it. Retribution aims at supporting and concurrently limiting punishment as it stipulates that castigation should be accorded to those involved in crime but in equal measure to the extent of the crime. Conversely, prevention presupposes that inhibiting imminent criminal doings requires the imposing some deeds on the wrongdoers so that they do not get involved in crimes again.

Incapacitation and Treatment

Incapacitation targets holding a wrongdoer up to when there is no probability of perpetuating further misconduct. However, there is a prevailing challenge of discharging a transgressor who eventually executes more crimes and failing to free an offender who is unlikely to be involved in further delinquencies (Pollock, 2017). Treatment counters retributive punishment by calling for recognition rather than dismissal and upholding support instead of detestation towards the offenders.


Specific deterrence refers to all the undertakings done to stop the offenders from perpetrating additional offenses. On the contrary, general deterrence refers to the actions against the criminal that discourages others from resolving to get involved in similar illegal deeds. Deterrence’s philosophy works on the assumption that the absence of regulations necessitates a jungle-like and lawless society; thus police are essential in maintaining law order and punishments to preserve moral decency.

Sexual Relationships and Sexual Abuse in Prison

Intimate relationships are predominant unethical behaviors amongst the convicts and staff members (correctional officers). The occurrence of gender corrections integration in the 1980s led to the upsurge of same-sex and heterosexual sexual abuse and misconduct (Pollock, 2017). Not until the middle of the 1800s that female and male inmates were separated. During the era of common housing, females were sexually misused and raped and sold their bodies in exchange for food and other commodities

Initially, rape in prisons was assumed to be male convict-on-convict violence and female inmates were reported being physically or sexually assaulted by the masculine correctional staff. However, with the enactment of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003 which mandated all states to maintain prison rapes data, different findings were revealed (Pollock, 2017). The female inmates were found to face non-violent physical sexual assault while the female correctional officers were found to have sexual dealings with the male inmates. The survey also showed that the highly susceptible prisoners were bisexuals or homosexuals who were dedicated to sexual malpractices, and were facing mental health problems.

Occasionally, instances have been reported where women prisoners have been forced to have intimacy with male correctional officers who intimidate them of drug implanting or disciplinary infringements if they fail to be submissive. Other female inmates are coerced to engage in sexual deeds with the male officers to acquire the rudimentary sanitary supplies (Pollock, 2017). It should be noted that female officers also get involved in sexual misconduct by extorting sex from male inmates (Pollock, 2017). Noteworthy, the inmates may manipulate and force the officer into sexual relationships.


Pollock, J. (2017). Ethical dilemmas and decisions in criminal justice (10th ed.). Cengage Learning.