A Code of ethics is a set of rules that guide the members of a specific institution. Every profession has its rules and regulations that govern them through their practice. Without such rules there is a likelihood that the members will act against the public's interest. For the sake of the public, institutions have come up with relevant rules. The criminal justice sector has also not been left behind when it comes to setting up measures that regulate officers in the field. Some of the players in criminal justice include the advocates, the judge, the victims, the suspects and most importantly the police. The police sector is at the centre of the criminal justice system. They are people entrusted with maintaining law and order. In every healthy society, there are lawbreakers as well as the law abiders. It is upon the police to identify them and present them to the courts of law for prosecution. Once the police have made an arrest, they have to allow the rule of law to take its cause.
In the recent past, there have been numerous cases on the excessive use of force by law enforcers. The police particularly have been accused of being inhuman will making their arrests. If for example, a suspect surrenders to the police, all which is supposed to be done is to handcuff them and take them to the police custody for questioning. However, police are taking advantage of the situation and begin harassing the suspects. It is against the law enforcement ethics for the police to employ force when the accused is collaborating. In other cases, it happens that the scene of crime involved some guns. Force should not be used unless the situation put the officers and the citizens' lives at risk. Suspects have to be arrested and prosecuted and not tortured. It happens that the police are against the idea of citizens taking action by themselves. It has happened severally that the citizens have nabbed suspects of robbery and murder, but when the police are informed, they arrive and whisk the suspects away. If the police advice the commons not to take the rule of law into their hand, why then should they not set good examples? Criminal justice relies on ethics. Without this ethics, the whole process would be a hell on earth.
Apart from the arresting of the suspects, there is the process of conducting investigations while the suspect is in custody. It happens that the investigating officers have very many cases that need to be solved. In such situations, the officers are forced to assess the victims to determine the cases that are more serious and need deep investigation. This means that the suspects of the minor crimes have to remain in police custody lengthening the whole justice process. However, it is wrong for the investigators to go for some cases while leaving others behind (Sherman, 2012). There is no serious or petty case. Once an issue is in police records, it has to be treated with all the seriousness that it deserves. However, things get too harsh for the officers that they have to filter the cases. It reaches a time where are too many cases for the officers to handle. The only option that is available is to eliminate some of the cases and thus resulting in an ethical dilemma.
On the other hand, the investigative officers have to try their best and obtain substantial evidence that can be used to prosecute the accused. Kleinig (2008) says that the evidence should be based on the information collected in the field and using the legally accepted principles. Long ago, investigative officers were using bizarre techniques for obtaining evidence to prosecute the accused. Some subjected the patients to immense torture leaving them with no option but to accept the charges either having taken part or not. This means that there is a possibility that innocent people are being convicted because of the unprofessionalism of some officers. At the same time, some officers have opted to the use of tricks to get the suspects into their traps. It happens that the suspects are enticed with a possibility of a free trial as well as some cash incentives. In the process, they fall into the traps of the investigators and end up being prosecuted. The police sometimes have to make use of these tricks so that they can attain the required evidence. Even the Canadian Supreme Court has allowed for the same.
Surprisingly, some tricks are accepted by the courts while others are condemned. The officer is thus expected to act professionally when hunting for evidence. Arresting of suspects is an easy task, but then the generation of reasonable evidence for the prosecution is an uphill task. According to Neck and Manz (2010), the officers have to do all it takes to table concrete evidence in court. Some of the prohibited procedure includes impersonating a lawyer or a priest. Ironically, there exist no legal facts why the two should not be impersonated. Is it that the courts do not want the suspects to reveal the exact details of the crime? Sincerely speaking, suspects are likely to be more open when they are told that they are talking to religious leaders. Perhaps, their positions in the society deserve respect to that extent. However, officers are allowed to pose as undercover detectives in deals like drug trafficking or other criminal activities. It is confusing on which circumstances are said to be dirty and the ones that are allowed. Why should officers be allowed to participate in criminal activities as impersonators but not on the positive side? What if such deals go sour and the officers end up losing their lives? At times, the justice system takes things too far. Ironically, the system allowed the use of the so-called dirty tricks.
Because of one reason or the tricks are allowed. However, some tricks are prohibited in the justice system. Such scenarios include the creating evidence that does not exist, lying in investigative reports or civil proceedings. Some officers go the extent of lying to their fellow officers. In as much this lyes can be important in the investigative procedures, they paint a terrible image of the police department. It is also possible that innocent people can be prosecuted for crimes that they did not commit. While there is some lie that the courts can detect and dismiss, others are too smart for them to suspect. In the process, the judge is also drugged into the mud of false witness unknowingly. As a way of preventing this witch-hunt by the investigators, there exists the Miranda warning that is issued to those in custody by the police. Individuals in custody are supposed to be silent on their issues without revealing them to other officers. This is confined in what is referred to as the Miranda rights (Hagan, 2007). However, numerous issues bring about ethical concerns. The possibility of a police officer approaching an accused person in custody to inform them of their rights is minimal.
The unprofessionalism of the investigative officers can easily lead the judges into some trouble. If it happens that the investigators provide false evidence before the court and the judge does not detect, all they will do is sentence the innocent persons into jail. When cases are related to treason or other murder related cases, death sentences may be issued. As it is now, there is a lot of concern on the legality of death penalties. Instead, there is the need to divert them into life imprisonment. Judges are therefore left in confusion on the cases that death penalties are necessary. The rot in the criminal justice is, however, making it hard for the people to find the justice they hope for. It is therefore upon the responsible legislating organs to come up with better rules that promote the independence of the system. The police also have to abide by the set standards even as the relevant authorities search for an appropriate approach to the existing dilemmas.
Braswell, M. C., McCarthy, B. R., & McCarthy, B. J. (2017). Justice, Crime, and Ethics. Taylor & Francis.
Hagan, F. E., & Hagan, F. E. (2007). Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology (pp. 129-41). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Kleinig, J. (2008). Ethics and Criminal Justice: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press.
Neck, C. P., & Manz, C. C. (2010). Mastering Self-leadership: Empowering yourself for Personal Excellence. Pearson.
Sherman, L. W. (2012). Ethics in Criminal Justice Education (Vol. 10). Hasting on Hudson, NY: Hastings Center.
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