Ethics and Moral Guidelines Criminal Justice Essay

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.....personal ethics derive from a combination of established codifications of moral conduct, such as those embedded in political documents or in religious scripture, but also from my personality, my upbringing, and my worldview. I tend towards a utilitarian point-of-view, in that I do believe that the consequences of actions are more important than worrying about whether an action is inherently right or wrong. I also believe that there are situational variables that make true deontological ethics almost impossible to apply universally and without hypocrisy. Although I make some decisions based on the principle of doing the maximum amount to good for the maximum number of people, I also recognize the importance of a strong ethical character when making decisions "Six Ethical Theories Rough Overview," n.d.). This is why I believe that there can be no one ethical theory that encompasses all situations. A person who has a strong ethical character, and who critically examines the variables at stake in any given situation, will make the best possible ethical decisions. It is impossible to please every stakeholder, every time, and thus, ethical outlooks need to be balanced carefully with pragmatism.

Week 1 -- Discussion 2

Ethics are simply theory; it is how we act that matters. Bystander effect is one of the most important examples of where human beings can go astray by not acting. Not taking action can be more harmful than actions taken. Bystander effect, also known as bystander apathy, occurs when individuals are in crowds and fail to take action to help someone because it is assumed someone else will intervene (Sommers, 2011). On some level, though, bystander effect is explained by the social norms that govern human behavior. Sometimes helpers end up making problems worse, or the person may resent being helped. Most of the time, though, moral actions are required to improve the quality of life for all people in a city. For instance, a person who sees a child run out into the street needs to run after that child and not just stand there expecting that the parent will do it. If the parent returns and gets angry for a person for touching their child, at least the person saved the child's life. The irrational reaction of the parent only shows that the parent is under stress or did not understand or see what happened.

Week 2 -- Discussion 1

The three main ethical categories include duty ethics or deontology, utilitarian ethics or consequentialism, and character ethics, or virtue ethics. Ideally, a combination of these three approaches helps to inform a person's ethical and moral behavior. There are pros and cons to each of these. Deontology assumes that everything can be black and white, and the ethical decision-making becomes rigid.

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At the same time, deontology allows people to become principled and to refrain from making convenient exceptions to rules for selfish reasons. Utilitarian ethics tend to view the ends as justifying the means, allowing for some unethical behaviors to take place as long as the actor deems the consequences worthwhile. At the same time, utilitarianism is a convenient model in a complex society where different ethical frameworks may clash. Virtue ethics stress the inner moral and psychological development of a person, and can be helpful in situations where a person simply wants to do good and be a good person. However, virtue or character ethics do not accurately guide a person towards ethical actions ("Six Ethical Theories Rough Overview," n.d.).

Week 2 -- Discussion 2

The law sometimes, and perhaps usually, reflects ethical codes. However, many laws remain unethical. Often, pragmatism and/or fear guide public policy in criminal justice more than ethics. The law usually reflects the difficulty balancing different ethical frameworks. A good example is drug laws. Drugs can cause addiction, which can cause personal harm. Drug prohibition is designed to "protect" the individual by restricting his or her freedom to act. However, the greater ethical principle of freedom as well as privacy also needs to be respected. Criminalizing drug users by placing them in prison is more unethical than the use of drugs itself, which can be considered a morally neutral act.

Week 3 -- Discussion 1

Policy is often drafted using general language, so that it can be applied to different situations. Using generalized language allows the policy to cover multiple variables or contingencies. Yet herein lies the weakness with policy -- it is sometimes too vague. Policy cannot possibly encompass all situational variables, and this is why informed individuals need to think critically about each situation and apply policy judiciously. Policy revisions become a critical part of an intelligent society and a learning organization. Just as the Constitution can be amended over time, so too can company policies. Drafting policies as practice helps to reveal the complexities and challenges involved in policy making in general. Diversity and multiple viewpoints also complicate effective policy making. Input from a variety of sources can help a policy be more universal and effective, and policy makers should always remain flexible and willing to revise.

Week 3 -- Discussion 2

Private prisons should be abolished. Mistrust of them is not only instinctual, it is also evidence-based. Privatized prisons promote mass incarceration and they do not even help the government to save money (Austin & Coventry, 2011). Therefore, privatized prisons should….....

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Austin, J. & Coventry, G. (2001). Emerging issues on privatized prisons. Bureau of Justice Assistance. Retrieved online:

Duff, A. (2013). Theories of criminal law. Retrieved online:

Fagan, J.A. (n.d.). Capital punishment. Retrieved online:

"Six Ethical Theories Rough Overview," (n.d.).

Surbhi, S. (2015). "Difference Between Morals and Ethics,"

Sommers, S. (2011). Why crowds make us callous. Psychology Today. Retrieved online:

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