Ethics and Conduct

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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“Without ethics, man has no future. This is to say, mankind without them cannot be itself. Ethics determine choices and actions and suggest difficult priorities” was once said by John Berger, English art critic, novelist, painter, and poet. The criminal justice system is an established set of social and legal foundations that enforce the criminal law in agreement with a distinct set of practical restrictions and rules. The criminal justice system faces issues that interfere with building relationships among employees, just like any other organizations and is designed to protect communities and individuals in today’s society.

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Legal issues can hinder an organization’s ability to be unified and successful, so the code of ethics and conduct were implemented. Ethics are an important aspect to have because it helps to guide those who are in a position of power and prominence that have great influence on society, that there are rules to follow. A code of ethics can be also viewed as a moral compass since it helps with the decision of how one should act in a perilous moment and the members of the criminal justice system make some of the most critical decisions every day and the choices they make will have a profound influence on the lives of others, especially those who are in a lower position. Thus, it is imperative that these men and women of the system do what is correct and free of biases.

Ethics and conduct are qualities that establish the foundation of their occupation and will certainly affect the method in which they carry their civic safety duties. Correctional officers must always abide by the code of ethics and conduct when doing their jobs since they play a significant role in the lives of many inmates because of their prolonged and direct interaction with each other on a day to day basis. Correctional history in the United States is filled with unusual ideas about how to change behavior, some were used for a longer period of time than others. In the colonial era, pillories were used to restrain the heads of drunker and beggars so they were seen by the public, thieves were trademarked with the letter “T, and scolds were swung out over the river and ducked into the water as a way to cool their heated tongue. Public embarrassment was seen as a way to repentance for colonial society. By the 1800s, the Eastern State Penitentiary was known as a “house of repentance (Woodham, 2008) and isolation and silent reflection were implemented as the primary apparatus of prisoners who committed a crime. Prisoners lived in tiny, one-person cells designed to isolate them from everyone else, this made them repent and try to atone for what they have done leading to a broken human spirit and eventually mental illness. Around 1870, a new system for these prisoners emerged, which also aimed to improve the prisoners’ spirit. In this new silent system, compliance and hard work were the main signs of improvement, and prisoners worked very hard together to communicate and get their daily chores done.

But in the evening, they returned to their living quarters, their solitary cells, for silent reflection on the day’s work that they did. In order for prisoners to think about what they have done, discouragement based strategies were considered the way to make people think twice about partaking in subsequent crimes, although corporal forms of punishment surrendered to claims of cruel and unusual punishments, prisons continued to enforce these penalties which remained as a backbone of correctional practice still seen in today’s society. In the early 1900s, “it was accepted upon conviction, an individual forfeited all rights not expressly granted by statutory law or correctional policy; in other words, inmates were civilly dead. The US Supreme Court held that convicted offenders should expect to be penalized for their misdeeds and that part of their punishment was the loss of freedoms that law-abiding citizens take for granted (Siegel & Worrall, 307). Nonetheless, progressives shifted the focus of correctional practice from deterrence to rehabilitation. The rehabilitative ideal was established by the positivists’ school of belief but assumed people engaged in crime in response to forces over which they had no control.

Positivists believed in determinism were the idea that biological, psychological, and social factors determined whether or not a person would engage in crime. They also believed that if these factors could be addressed were fixed, we can help people lead crime-free lives. The indeterminate sentence was in support of this new rehabilitative ideal, people were sentenced to an indefinite period of time, for example, three to ten years, and release was determined by their demonstrated reformation. Thus, little programming was offered and people languish to convince prison officials that they had changed. The inadequacies of prison as a context for rehabilitation soon gave way for probation and parole, these non-custodial sanctions helped facilitated the individualized treatment required to address diverse motivations for engaging in crimes. Probation and parole officers played the role of the generous human service officer who counseled and support clients and their resistance efforts. Thus, a code of ethics and conduct was then implemented with the aim of protecting both prisoners and correctional officers, in order for both parties to not feel oppressed. Professional codes of conduct diminish value conflicts.

All Judges, lawyers, agents, officers, and correctional officers have to make decisions about how to appropriately proceed with the detainment and punishment of criminals. With these decisions, a specific number of rules need to be followed in order for one to receive a fair trial and sentencing with no biases. Correctional officers put their lives on the line on a daily basis in prison, and they are expected to comply with a code of ethics which outlines the general guidelines of the ethical behaviors and conducts of correctional officers. The code of ethics should be part of the officers’ character and they should learn to live and think ethically in order to evade any conflicting behaviors. According to John Kultgen, author at IBM industry noted that “every code must be treated as a hypothesis to be tested and adapted while following it. This explains that with the aim of evolving, correctional officers must adhere to the code of ethics since these codes are a coherent standard that stems from accepted morals and ethical principles, which in turn support the construction of a code of ethics suitable for the criminal justice responsibilities being carried out. Following these codes will assure that an individual is treated with the respect he deserves even if he is a criminal, and there is no prejudice when it comes to the well-being that prisoner. A correctional officer is defined as an officer that “supervise individuals who have been arrested and are being held for trial or who have been convicted of a crime and are serving a sentence in a jail, reformatory, or penitentiary (How to Become a Corrections Officer). Federal and state prisons, county jails, and other correctional facilities help communities to keep the public safe by operating these secure facilities for individuals that committed an unlawful act.

With this, the correctional department implemented the codes of ethics which every correctional officer must follow. Correctional officers recognize these unlawful act and spend their lives working trying to guard and help these criminals from eroding the public’s assurance by their unethical behaviors and misconduct. Correctional officers’ duties towards the facility and the inmates are to “[keep the peace and ensure order], monitor the activities of inmates and document their progress, provide the appropriate rehabilitation services to inmates, and abide by and enforce policies at all time. And they, correctional officers, are entitled to the right of a “fair and just compensation, including employment benefits, and the right to due process, especially if accused of policy violations. With all these duties and rights of a correctional officer, they also have privileges that are within the constraints of the law and conforms to the institutional rules and regulations. But sometimes a few of these officers turn to collect bribes or gratuities to supplement low pay causing fraud. When an individual commits a crime, and is lawfully incarcerated, that person still maintains a few of his constitutional rights and the federal courts must resolve any violations of these entitlements. It is the correctional officers job to ensure these rights are carried out, among the rights are “not discriminated against for their skin color, physical appearance, race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and other attributions, receive basic necessities and a decent living condition, and exercise the rights to which they are entitled (Principles of Professional Conduct, 2018).

When an offender is sentenced, he still has the “right to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect. Right to privacy. Right to be informed of policy in the correctional facility. Right to healthcare and personal development training (Principles of Professional Conduct, 2018). These rights help the correctional officers and the prisoner to know that they maybe at a different level in life but they are all still humans. With the aim of having an organized prison, there must be rules and regulations for both the correctional officers and the prisoners to follow and when these code of ethics are not adhered to, there will be complete and utter chaos. The duty of the criminal justice system is to penalize, protect the community and rehabilitate the offenders of today’s society and with the help of correctional officers, this task can be carried out. Many time, people take advantage of others this is why the code of ethics and conduct for both correctional officers and prisoners were implemented. In the earlier days of society, the government and law officials used a lot of unethical means of punishing the wrong-doers. But in present day, there are rules and regulations that needs to be followed in order to run a full functioning civilization and still allow the rights of prisoners to be expressed. Some of the rights and freedoms for prisoners are taken away when they enter prison, but they keep their constitutional rights, so they would not be mistreated. Correctional officers should be aware of these rights and should always do their best to help if any prisoner’s rights are being violated.

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Ethics And Conduct. (2019, Dec 28). Retrieved from