Free ethics in criminal justice essay sample

Ethical Dilemma 1: Gun Rally

Ethics serves as an integral part of the justice system, including areas covering criminal law. The subject defines any discipline dealing with good and evil and with moral duty” or that which involves principles that can be defined as moral (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). One part of the definition that sounds complementing, is that ethics involves a combination of both cognition and behavioral principles. These are the basic and concrete foundation on which any form of ethics, including criminal ethics, is based.
The first dilemma in this case is deeply enshrined in work ethics relating to the police force. It is always the mandate of the police to ensure that everything in their jurisdiction is properly catered for and well communicated. Whether the information received is obtained from their own investigation or got from third party agents is not of criticality than their mandate to receive the information and carry out preliminary investigations that could help them come up with the right ways to react. Indeed, as Peter Singer put it (1995), living ethically usually entails thinking about things that transcend one’s own interests. In any case, all information must pass through a ‘ sieving’ procedure which involves the use of preliminary investigation tool to determine the right ways to react in order to solve a problem. The police force has to protect the general public from any harm, be it physical or emotional, direct or indirect, that could arise as a result of any form of lawlessness in the society. Therefore, their first mandate is always to protect. From such a rally, there could emanate violent behavior or misconduct even if no prior reports of lawlessness have ever been confirmed from the gun advocacy group. It is in this line that ethics comes into interplay with moral principles and practice. One may opt to remain silent over the matter until the officers come into the full knowledge of the rally once it is held. However, going by the code of conduct in ethical issues affecting criminal justice, it is in the best interests of the administrator, the police officers and the public that the information regarding the rally be known to the officers for further investigations.

Ethical Dilemma 2: Chief’s Orders

Every society has some set rules to live by while also enjoying their rights as enshrined in the constitution. The constitution has created an effective balance between expansive powers and their limits. The limits to these powers are especially particular to the guarantee for fundamental rights and protection of life, people’s liberty and property. As much as preservation of law and order is paramount, however; it should be inclined to the Bill of Rights that acts to preserve the liberty of the people to act or hold rallies as they deem important. This would be binding if their intention is not in contradiction of the law and the constitution.
On the same grounds, there are two branches of ethics that act to guide in making the final decision in this case. One branch is normative ethics that is a key branch of ethics that guides in the making of decisions in the criminal justice system. What the branch centralizes on is the proposal that any body’s conduct ought to take into account the moral issues thereof. This is another way to mean that one must use reason, acting morally, in order to decide the best way possible of conducting oneself. Essentially, one can make informed choices following what ethics considers standard form of conduct. Another branch important in solving the puzzle in this case involves ethical pluralism.
As Lawrence Hinman (1998) argues, ethical pluralism allows one to embrace four key pillars of quelling conflicts between two sides that may be seen as differing “ ethical standards”. The pillars utilized are: the pillars of understanding, tolerance, standing up against evil, and fallibility. Fallibility as a pillar tends to act in favor of our fallibility. What it stipulates is that we should be in a position to accept the exposure of our own shortcomings morally as well as learn from others and their culture. The chief officer tends to act in relation to ethical absolutism which tends to assert that certain principles of morality apply to all and sundry everywhere. Hence, being aware of these principles, the officer believes that she has the right and obligation to pass judgment on anyone (Cook, 1997). Thus utilizing the power of logical reasoning and the pillars illustrated here above, I would be able to convince the officer and the group without taking action to intimidate the members. Excessive force on them would yield retaliation and violence. Incase violence breaks out of this unwarranted exercise that the chief ordered be carried out; one would have failed in the upholding of justice and rights to liberty since no violence was there prior to the police force intervening.

Ethical Dilemma 3: Accepting Favors

The dilemma here arises out of the fact that it is an ethical case inside another ethical case. While trying to pursue and investigate the local gun advocacy group, a case involving bribe arises. The current one might seem insignificant, but in reality is not. By the very act of the officer accepting favors shows that it is an ingrained behavior in the society, and thus a matter of great concern. The decision in such case will be based on factors such as personal values, one’s priorities or even how a particular case will influence the investigation of the other. Yes, the law is so clear about bribery. Obviously, such an officer ought to be arrested and charged in a court of law for abuse of office – bribery. However, since his trial might eventually lead to his ultimate dismissal from his duties, ties with the officer become broken. In this case, though one may know what is wrong or right, the most ethical choice becomes difficult to choose. Acting ethically, therefore, is not a matter of simply making a decision of what is right or wrong prior to your decision. It involves so many areas that have got no specific laws or rules that are laid out. Additionally, justification is always a requirement of our choices, whichever decision we choose to stick to. The justification must be sufficient enough to convince any human being without any reasonable doubt (James, 1991). Singer (1995) further notes that when one is thinking ethically, one ought to consider the interests of everyone, friends and enemies alike. After carrying out analysis of all the above, and still find that a particular action one wanted to undertake is better than any other available, then whatever that was thought of should be taken without hesitation. In this scenario now, though one solely understands that bribery or seeking out favors is against the moral ethics or even the law, still reporting the officer is not the wisest thing to hold dear to at the moment. It becomes beneficial for the observer to explain what he feels about the act without letting it hurt him to the point of not proceeding with his job. Consequently, it is the officer’s best decision to abandon the situation by simply turning down the offer and explaining what he feels about it without any comments that might hurt.

Ethical Dilemma 4: Reporting a Deal

The law is so clear in such instances like these that any defendant in a criminal case, except that of impeachment, has the right to have their case heard by a jury in the state where the crime occurred. In this scenario, the bone of contention is not the state where the case is being heard, but the absence of a jury in the case that the judge renders a decision. This is outright in trying to come up with the final decision. This is a scenario that involves a court of law, where the judge and everyone involved ought to act to the best of their knowledge in accordance with the ethics of criminal justice and laws of the land. It is vital to note that you cannot base your reasons for reporting the judge and the prosecutor on the mere ground of not trusting them with previous cases. Remember that a moral judgment should be supported by reasons that are reasonable beyond doubt. Even if the reason seems right but has no concrete reasons as to why it is so, then it stands to be unfounded. In this way, moral judgments achieve a different tag from the mere expressions of preference by an individual. In summary, therefore, moral judgments do require that there be enough reasons backing them, in the absence of which they become “ merely arbitrary” (James, 1991). Since every citizen has a right to the access of a jury, one ought to use this argument to seek redress of the judge’s decision to render such a decision without the presence of a jury in aid of the defendant.

Ethical Dilemma 5: Breaking Prison Rules

This case scenario exhibits two ethical dilemmas. One of them is that of withholding information from sources such as a client in this case. The other dilemma arises from the problem of assuming the confidentiality for the sealed envelope in this case and assuming that the client has every right to confidentiality. However, with this confidentiality may come serious consequences of unauthorized leakage of crucial information not allowed to be accessed by the public.
In the above scenario, as much as one may have a desire to respect the confidentiality of the client with whom you are involved, it may be better to have an ‘ authorized’ access to the contents in the envelope to confirm that the message therein is not harmful to any parties whether involved or not. In this case, accessing the contents would look like a better alternative to assuming that the client has a right to confidentiality. Thus, one would prioritize the loyalty over and above the value of personal freedom. If the message is not in contradiction of the law of the land, the note can be put in a new envelope and sealed afresh.


Dreisbach, C. (2009). Ethics in criminal justice. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Hudson, B. (2003). Justice in the risk society: Challenging and re-affirming justice in late modernity. London: SAGE.
Rachels, J. (1997). Can ethics provide answers?: And other essays in moral philosophy. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.