In this essay I will be discussing ethical professionalism in relation to criminal justice system. The topic will be considered from the points of view of three authors. American Bar Association (2015), Fitch D. (2011) and Packman D. (2009) give their perspectives of ethical issues in the criminal justice system. I will bring to light how the three authors agree on different ethical issues affecting the police department. I will also show how they argue that the system of criminal justice is inseparable from ethical concerns. For the system of criminal justice operating without disagreements with the humanity and at the suitability to the law, professionalism and/or professional conduct must exist. Professional deeds are a consequence of criminal justice regulations, as well as ethics codes of conduct of criminal justice official. The system of criminal justice incorporates numerous circumstances that require moral or ethical verdicts and judgment (Fitch, 2011). The frequent presence of ethical dilemmas makes the scenario even worse. It is therefore inevitable that criminal justice officers must be conversant with ethics and ethical or moral values.
Justice and Ethical Professionalism
The police, the judiciary and the rehabilitation facilities, compose the criminal justice system. According to American Bar Association (2015), it makes relentless efforts to ensure officers behave ethically in their line of duty, as well as their personal life. There are various activities that the system of criminal justice has engaged in to ascertain ethical administration and professionalism. Nevertheless, there are black spots on the ethical expertise in the justice and the system of criminal justice. In some cases, criminal justice officers fail to act ethically while on duty, as well as off-duty. According to the provisions of justice, such people should face disciplinary or legal suits depending on the magnitude of the offense. Ethical professionalism should emphasize that criminal justice officers serve the public, whether prosecuted or free. When justness in their service to the public is not present, the ethical professionalism is also absent (American Bar Association, 2015). In the paper I will deliberate the ways through which ethics is enhanced in the criminal justice system, how it is undermined and define possible solutions to the violation as outlined by Packman (2009).
According to American Bar Association (2015) and Fitch (2011), police departments work under certain codes of ethics, either desired by a state or the department or adopted from International Association of Chiefs of Police. The ethics codes outline what is allowable to a policeman. In addition, police works under stipulated rules that govern its conduct while being on duty. When not on duty, police officers should be governed by the rules and laws guiding the rest of the public. It is worth to note that both code of ethics and regulations of work seek to ensure that police officers make ethical decisions at work and do not act from ill motives. Decisions are ethical when an individual comes to them after considering the good of the majority in relation to the outcome of certain actions. The code of ethics and other rules caution police officers from making decisions owing to emotions and relations at the expense of the good of the majority.
According to Packman (2009), ethical professionalism is never limited to the police department; it extends to the judiciary as the judicial process should be conducted with total regard of ethics. The prosecutor, the defense attorney, and the juries, should all behave ethically on duty (Packman, 2009). The prosecutor’s sole motive is to get justice served. The defense attorney seeks the good of the client while the juries try to award justice to both the complaint party and the offender. There are some laws which seek to enhance ethics in the judicial process, such as the Miranda law. There are other laws which are aimed at giving justice to the offender, but in some cases they are violated through unethical conduct.
In line with other authors, I state that there incidents in which officers of the criminal justice system violate ethics and professionalism and end up on the wrong side of the law. The administration of justice, in such situations, becomes trick, but is essential for the system to build goodwill, public faith and confidence in it. In most cases when suing policemen or other justice officials, justice is rarely served. Prosecutors are reluctant to prosecute police officers, with whom they have worked closely and interdependently. Therefore, many criminal charges against police offenders go unprosecuted. Furthermore, even when prosecuted, there are some privileges that judges refer to and the offender gets a lighter punishment than a similar offender from the public would get. National Police Misconduct Reporting Project (NPMSRP) shows that in 2009 only thirty-three percent of police offenders were prosecuted while sixty-eight percent of the public perpetrators were sued. It also proves that among the prosecuted, apart from four, three of which were sentenced for a life and one for a death, all got limited prison terms compared to that the other felons got. The average prison term for the public offenders was thirty seven months, while that of the police officers was six months. The samples considered were the offenses of equal magnitude. This study clearly shows the unethical behavior of the criminal justice system when it comes to dealing with police officers. The Supreme Court judge in 2006 said that it is a new age of professionalism in the system; however, that statement is not reflected in the NPMSRP report. The unethical behavior in the system fades public faith in it and raises a lot of conflicts (Packman, 2009).
As Fitch (2011) says, ethics in the justice seeks to ensure professional behavior, reduce conflict and other problems arising from unethical conduct. Ethical conduct in justice institutions can be realized through continuous ethics training throughout the working lifetime of an officer. This process should begin from recruitment to retirement in officers’ life. Ethics training equips policemen with tools of ethical decisions, as well as empowers them to identify problems requiring ethical decisions. Apart from ethics training, upholding other rules and codes of ethics is important in realizing professionalism (Fitch, 2011). In addition, ensuring that justice is served in cases of officer offenders will also aid to improve ethical conduct in the system.
In conclusion, ethical conduct in the justice system facilitates the realization of justices, upholding of law and proper functioning of the police department. Additionally, it also reduces conflict between police officers and the public. Confidence and faith in the police department increases among the public when ethical conduct and professionalism are at work.