Criminal justice administration is a challenging role since it determines the outcomes of operations conducted by any law enforcement agency. The decisions made by individuals in this role provide the infrastructure to prevent crime, uphold the law, serve and protect the people, and maintain the peace. The professional conduct of such administrators is often under threat due to undue pressure from local politicians, organized crime leadership, and even a Federal or State law enforcement agency. The chances for succumbing to pressure are high when ethics are lacking. Ethics influence the moral decisions that administrators make. Ethical behavior constitutes to the absolutes of right and wrong. An ethically sound administrator will refuse to accommodate negligence or neglect. This ensures the effective functioning of the entire unit designated to this person (Cronkhite, 2012).
Ethical conduct is one of the primary outcomes of professional behavior. This ethically based professionalism affects all fronts in the criminal justice establishment. The police will be able to establish firm relationships with members of the community they serve if they are professional in carrying out their duties. Community cooperation is the key to solving and preventing crimes. The community will not respond positively to a police force that lacks professionalism and ethical behavior. An example of this situation is the Detroit Police Department. Their case closure rates are among the lowest in the nation. This low rate coincides with the community’s lack of trust in the law enforcement agency (Byers, 2002).
District Attorneys are usually face difficult choices while prosecuting defendants. There are elements such as police instinct, physical evidence, the interpretation of the law, and forensics that determine whether or not there is a case. However, today the foremost reasons for miscarriage in justice are due to prosecutorial misconduct. We have judgements overturned by the dozen through organizations such as the Innocence Project. The case of James Bain remains unmatched. The man served close to three decades behind bars for a crime he did not commit. The prosecution in this case did not have convincing evidence. They relied on their ability to win a case than to make a case that solved the crime in question. They withheld exculpatory evidence and ignored eyewitness testimonies that credited the innocence of James Bain. If the District Attorney who handled this case took decisions based on ethical behavior and professionalism, this case would not have made it to trial.
Judges in the criminal justice system require professionalism to resist jury decisions at times when the verdict is contrary to the principles of the law. A jury is comprised of twelve individuals from common backgrounds. They will weigh the evidence however; their emotional condition will contribute directly to the verdict. A tearful testimony of a victim is enough to convict an innocent man like James Bain. The role of the judges is not to supervise the trial, it is to make decisions based on the interpretation of the law against the evidence in the case. The pressure to do what is popular is often more than taking the correct course of action. For example, the wrapping up of an alleged child molestation case takes top priority than to check if the defendant is actually guilty. Only the stringent application of ethical behavior and professionalism enable Judges to maintain integrity and serve the law to its full capacity.
Correctional facilities are difficult environments. They comprise of violent criminal elements who usually threaten the safety of correctional officers. The present prison-overcrowding situation often leads neglect of individuals who are actually maturing as criminals. The transition nullifies the purpose of incarceration; rehabilitation and punishment. The critical decisions in correctional facilities are often subject to personnel, and maintenance of the facility. However, these decisions will not reflect professionalism if the ethical conduct of correctional administrators is questionable. The growing recidivism rates in the nation are a direct result of this lack of professionalism.
All these establishments have a duty to the law and the people of this nation. They have the ability to effect change that can increase or decrease the quality of life. Their decisions will portray their commitment to safeguard Constitutional Rights of the citizenry. Each of these criminal justice organizations has a critical role to help salvage humanity from the ethically challenged part of our communities. Their decisions will have positive impacts only if they are ethically driven. The level of their professionalism will reflect as outcomes in crime rates, crime solving percentages, incarceration of the innocent, recidivism, and civil rights violations (Allen, Mhlanga, and Khan, 2006).
The seminar for the training of criminal justice administrators in ethical behavior and professionalism aims at improving the quality of critical decisions. The topics covered include moral resourcefulness, exercising discretion, resisting decisions that violate tolerance, avoiding ambiguity, and judging the limitations of coercion in the criminal justice system. The topics chosen will provide the basis for conducting ethical behavior and increase the levels of professionalism.
The morals of an individual will always reflect in their work environment since, the opportunity to make decisions is significantly higher. The morals themselves might not be sufficient for making the correct decision. Hence, there is a need to analyze the ethics of the morals. For example, covert behavior is an extension of the moral value of transparency. While there is nothing wrong in avoiding transparency for certain roles, the personnel selected for these roles must fit the bill. An undercover agent cannot be transparent to everyone the agent is connected with. This type of transparency might suit the role of a community-policing commandant. It is important to manage the morals available in the agency to best suit the requirement.
Popular decisions seldom tend to be the correct. The decision of the District Attorney to prosecute James Bain is one such decision. The police had made a quick arrest in a child molestation case and wanted the pressure from the community to end. The District Attorney’s office went ahead with the case based on the victim’s identification of the defendant in a police lineup that unfairly comprised of individuals who did not resemble the description of the suspect. The decisions were wrong and almost sent an innocent man to the electric chair twice. The discretion to disagree with a erroneous popular decision requires someone with sound ethics and professionalism.
Resisting decisions that violate tolerance
The recent slew of shootings that involved unarmed suspects is an example of violating tolerance. The criminal justice system requires tolerance to coexist with the community. The community will test the patience of criminal justice administrators through processions, demonstrations, negative interviews to the media, and through their behavior on the street. A professional criminal justice administrator should always remain tolerance of these instigations from the society. The professional behavior of this organization depends on their relationship with the public and the level of respect they can muster.
The actions of the criminal justice system require clarity with its clients, the general public. Any decisions that keep the society guessing will not enable building relationships among communities. In turn, this will lead to a lack of support within the community towards law enforcement. Information is the key to avoiding controversies. If a Caucasian police force patrols an African American neighborhood, the reasoning must reach the community. Experience and street smartness of the personnel are good reasons to deploy them in crime prone areas. It is a positive move to call for public support.
Judging the limitations of coercion in the criminal justice system
Coercion is required in the criminal justice system to uphold the law and bring dangerous criminals to justice. However, the limitations cannot be ignored. The victimization of innocent people is often a consequence of improper use of coercion. There is a need to analyze the circumstances of use for this investigative tool.
Collectively, these topics provide the basis for better relationships within the community. The citizens of this nation will support the criminal justice system if they find it competent. These topics will enable criminal justice administrators to exercise morally correct decisions that increase the professionalism of their respective units. This collective professional behavior will eventually reflect as an improved quality of life for the society (Sherman, 1982).
Allen, J. M., Mhlanga, B., and Khan, E. W. (2006). Education, Training and Ethical Dilemmas: Responses of Criminal Justice Practitioners Regarding Professional and Ethical Issues. Professional Issues in Criminal Justice. 1, 1. Pp. 3 - 28.
Byers, B (2002). Ethics and Criminal Justice: Some Observations on Police Misconduct. Crime and Justice International. 18, 68. Retrieved from: http://www.cjimagazine.com/archives/cji681a.html?id=1
Cronkhite, C. L. (2012). Law Enforcement and Justice Administration: Strategies for the 21st Century. Burlington: MA. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. Pp. 309 – 315.
Sherman, L. W. (1982). Ethics in Criminal Justice Education. Rockville: MD. National Institute of Justice. Pp. 5 – 80.