To understand the ethical challenges in the criminal justice system, I took a look at the three parts of criminal justice, Policing, Courts, and Corrections. In doing so I found that this is quite a large topic. The areas I would like to touch on are; those areas in which the newly hired police officer, lawyer, and corrections officer my face. Having only the training he/she was given in their respective academy’s or in the case of attorneys Law School, and with the Oath of office they had just sworn to, hopefully still in, and the men and women they are placed with to guide them; above all their own sense of ethical behavior and morality. Ethics is a very personal thing; it means many things to many people.
There is the mind set of “do unto others as you would have done to you”, the golden Rule, most of us learned early on in life. But as we go through life we start to get our own sense of ethical and moral behavior. We see others acting in a manner in which we would like to act, and wonder how to become more like that person, more times than not, this starts with a parent or sibling, or close family friend. At this early time we are developing our ideas of right and wrong, as well as healthy and unhealthy behaviors.
Another area in which some are given a great deal of their ethical and moral values are religion, there is always a reward for doing the right thing, and a punishment for the wrong. Ethics and morality go hand in hand. The ethical and moral values we gather in the early stage of life stay with us though out our adult life. This is where the training in ethics and morality stops. For most of us we go on to live good lives. Only to be tested once in a while in our moral and ethical beliefs. Not so for the persons who chose a career in the Criminal Justice system.
Weather a Police officer on the beat in, or a newly sworn Lawyer, or perhaps the Corrections officer. Now all these areas of the Criminal Justice system come with a great deal of reasonability. These jobs are not for everyone, there is a multitude of tests and back ground checks one must go through before being considered for placement in any Criminal Justice agency. In fact most police departments require a prospective candidate to have at least a two year college degree. Lawyers are required to have many years of schooling, in particular four years of law school, Correctional Services in many states do not require any college at all, and however all do require at least a high school education.
Ethics training is not at the forefront of most law enforcement academy curricula. Ethics is sometimes a low-priority, tiresome subject. Little effort can be devoted to ethics as it competes for classroom time with more glamorous and direct-liability subjects such as firearms, non-lethal weapons, defensive tactics, laws of arrest, search and seizure, pursuit driving, etc.(Dr....