The Importance Of Ethics In Criminal Justice

792 Words 4 Pages
Decision making in the criminal justice system are met with competing values and interests. These conflicts relate to the determination of what is right or wrong and can be interrupted differently in some situations based upon the culture, changes over time, and on an individual’s upbringing. With this in mind, some decision such as those found in police discretion can be guided by social norms, justice, and personal values, but the police often encounter situations resulting in gray areas. Therefore, laws, training, and agency guidelines and code of conduct are put in place to assist officers in the decisions making process to set specific standards and processes (Gaines & Kappeler, 2011). With this in mind, the ethical and moral principles …show more content…
In other words, there is no right or wrong, so under the utilitarian philosophy if the outcome of the action is good is it moral, but if the outcome is bad, it is immoral (Gaines & Keppeler, 2011). For instance, ethical problems arise when actions can be justified for the greater good, but are morally and ethically wrong when it comes to the legal factor. Under this conflicting view, police behaviors can be considered ethical if they achieve the desired outcome even it if means compromising civil liberties in the process. Take for example; if a police officer goes out of his or her way to obtain evidence without a warrant on a known drug dealer to get a conviction, the result implies the action to be for the greater good. However, it is ethically wrong because the evidence was obtained illegally. The officer and some within society may feel inclined to believe the end result justified the means, but obtaining illegal evidence is an inappropriate action under the law. Therefore, the utilitarianism ideology has weakness when dealing with injustice and implies that it is okay to mistreat one to benefit others (Braswell, McCarthy and McCarthy, 2014). As a result, the officer’s actions are dependent on the choice that was made coupled by the situation in which the decision was made (Gaines & Kappeler, …show more content…
Such theology refers to one’s duty to act in reference to rules set in place that are not up for negotiation regardless of the individual circumstances. An ethical view such as this is conflicting with the use of police discretion with respect to issuing traffic tickets and arrests made in vice crimes. For instance, if a small group gets together at the local pub to play a friendly game of cards in a state where gambling is illegal, and the officer arrests each subject, the deontological theory would remove the officer’s discretionary decision to enforce the law in victimless crimes. Such arrests can be viewed as harassment according to social norms. While this scenario can certainly be viewed as ethical under the law, Immanuel Kant included the idea that the action must be guided by good intentions to be ethical (Gaines & Kappeler, 2011). Under the added ideal, it would be unethical to arrest if the intentions and motives behind the arrests where that of a prejudice

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