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Criminal Justice Theory and System & Ethical Issues Response Discussion

Criminal Justice Theory and System & Ethical Issues Response Discussion

Question Description

Provide feedback to the following discussions using the textbook and other references to support my point of view.

Discussion 1:

Of the 3 components of the Criminal Justice System, police experience more ethical issues than the others. While courts and corrections both involve ethical decisions, police have to make the initial decision to bring that person into the criminal justice system. Police involve more ethics (“what is good for individuals and society”) rather than morals which takes place within courts and corrections. Police have certain rules and laws they MUST follow when arresting people and dealing with citizens. An example of this is conducting a search and seizure. They must have reasonable suspicion to stop you and then to proceed, they must have probable cause. They must follow these things. If they don’t, they are breaking the law and going against the ethics of being a police officer.

Something we spoke about last week was racial profiling, which is something extremely common within the criminal justice system but stems from the decisions made by the police. Racial profiling is often seen as “a shorthand for unfair police targeting of persons of minority groups for greater scrutiny and intervention.” This ultimately means that certain groups are targeted by police because of their race. The race of a person should not determine whether an arrest or any other legal interaction is going to occur. An officer is crossing an ethical line when they are targeting persons of a minority group just because of the color of their skin.

Ethics – Introduction to ethics: Ethics: A general introduction. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2020, from

Worley, R. & Barua, V. (2009). Criminal justice ethics. In J. M. Miller 21st Century criminology: A reference handbook (pp. 861-870). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781412971997.n98

Discussion 2:

While a variety of different ethical issues can be found in all three of the components of the Criminal Justice System, it would seem some of the worst and most prevalent ethical issues arise within the police force. Although it may only be a certain proportion of the police who engage in unethical or unprofessional behavior, the resulting damage to individuals, the public safety, and public perception is cause for concern. Given the polices interactions daily interactions with the public, their associated status as law enforcement, and their position as a sort of first-line defense, there are a variety of ways in which police can engage in unethical behaviors. In particular, police may unethically accept or demand bribes in exchange for certain favors (Worley & Barua, 2009). These bribes may even entail overlooking serious crimes, such as drug or child pornography trafficking (Worley & Barua, 2009).Some may even engage in inappropriate sexual behaviors while on duty, abuse sick time, or even use excessive force and brutality (Worley & Barua, 2009). Additionally, some officers may sleep while on duty or unethically expect special perks from businesses, such as free food and drinks, by virtue of their law enforcement status (Worley & Barua, 2009). Even more seriously, some officers may falsify reports and/or commit perjury (Worley & Barua, 2009). According to Worley and Barua (2009), this sort of ethically police behavior and corruption exists in nearly every type of police organization on a global scale.

These unethical behaviors are sometimes able to persist due to certain aspects of police subculture which heavily influence law enforcement employees (Worley & Barua, 2009). According to Walker and Katz (2008), this subculture allows for the rationalization and motivation of unprofessional behaviors for some officers (as cited in Worley & bar, 2009). The police subculture may also contribute to underreporting of misconduct by fellow police officers; these officers may attempt to keep up their “loyalty” to other law enforcement members by not “ratting on” or reporting them as encouraged by the police subculture (Worley & Barua, 2009). Covering up or not reporting inappropriate police behavior within the police force only allows further misconduct which can damage the public’s opinion of the police as an organization. According to De Angelis and Wolf (2016), there is a strong correlation between public satisfaction with police and perceived police accountability. Attitudes towards police accountability were found to be the most consistent and strongest predictor of police satisfaction across numerous surveys (De Angelis & Wolf, 2016). Public misconduct-related scandals involving the police can drastically damage public evaluation of police accountability and local police services (De Angelis & Wolf, 2016). The lack of reporting of misconduct by police officers within police stations likely only damages police perception of police accountability and police department efforts to control officer behavior which may subsequently damage overall public opinion of the police. As such, both the unethical behavior of law enforcement officers and the internal reporting and repercussions for this behavior likely have a substantial impact on public opinion. These ethical issues are serious cause for concern as a result of their variety and impact on public perceptions.


De Angelis, J., & Wolf, B. (2016). Perceived accountability and public attitudes toward local police. Criminal Justice Studies: A Critical Journal of Crime, Law & Society, 29(3), 232–252.

Worley, R. M., & Barua, V. (2009). Criminal Justice Ethics. 21st Century Criminology: A Reference Handbook 21st Century Criminology: A Reference Handbook, 861–870.

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