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In all branches of the criminal justice system everyday there are members that are presented with situations that will test their ethics, morals, and professionalism. These members are expected to be professional and ethical daily. For members to make the best decisions they need to reflect on different ways that are professional and abide to the standards of the criminal justice system. Law enforcement officials must adhere too these standards just as any other member of the criminal justice system. It is important to maintain a moral character and having trust in the community is a key to uphold these standards. According to the Department of Justice its website states, Government ethics rules implement this common value: “public service is a public trust, meaning that the decisions and actions that federal employees take must be made in the best interests of the American people”. The best way police officers can demonstrate high levels of integrity, and maintain the safety, health, and welfare of every and all citizens is to abide by a Code of Ethics that require specific expectations. One of the best examples for a member to abide by these expectations is that you shouldn’t use your position as personal gain. For instance, the Code of Ethics states that law enforcement officers shall not accept, give or take gratuities. “Public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain” (U.S. Department of Justice, 2018). A violation of the Code of Ethics is the same as if a law enforcement officer orders a sandwich from a deli and the owner wants to give it to him on the house. Police officers shall refuse to offer, give or receive gifts, favors or gratuities, either large or small, which can be reasonably interpreted as capable of influencing official acts or judgments (“Professional Ethics and Standards,” 2010).
Today, it is very important to practice the ethical and professional standards due to technology evolving more than ever. All branches of the criminal justice system have some type of ethics standards that employees must follow. In many situations a correction officer may come across an ordeal that could possibly jeopardize one’s career if the ethical and professional standards aren’t followed. There should always be a system in place to set the standards that must be followed, as well as information that is made available to assist the correctional officer in making important decisions. It should be known that the ACA (American Correctional Association) has a Code of Ethics that all corrections officers must abide by. In the department of corrections, officers should always refrain from any activities that are inconsistent to one’s duties, and they should never put their personal interest before professionalism as it may impair one’s judgement and performance. In addition, all corrections officers must report any unethical or corrupt behavior that may need justified review. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Standards of Employee Conduct, state that “Employees will avoid situations that involve conflicts of interest with their employment” (U.S. Department of Justice, 2018). In the case of a corrections officer knowing an inmate from when they were in high school and knowing that he is smoking when he shouldn’t be, the officer must report the incident and not let his personal judgement interfere. An officer would be in violation as it is a conflict of interest since the officer and inmate know each other. The inmate’s behavior should be reported by the officer as required otherwise it would be a professional violation for allowing a rule to be broken and not reporting it. These standards and rules are in place to help maintain professionalism and honesty in the work environment (“American Correctional Association.”).
One of the basic principles of constitutional law that a police officer must follow that differs from a probation officer when searching a probationer’s house is how the 4th Amendment is interpreted. Individuals that are placed on probation agree that a warrantless search can be conducted at any given time. Probation being another form of a sentence granted by a judge the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to persons placed on probation or parole and no probable cause is needed for a Probation officer to conduct a search. A probation officer has the legal right to search a criminal that they have been assigned to monitor by via the court system. So, if a criminal is on probation, the probation officer, at any time, can search the criminal. The 4th amendment is one of the principles of constitutional law that police officers must uphold. Police officers need to have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to search individuals, their homes or any other object. Police officers must possess a search warrant to search an individual’s home including individuals on probation. Police officers cannot legally search a person, their property, etc. without a warrant and probable cause to do so. The 4th Amendment states that “the right of the people, to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and affects, against unreasonable searches and seizures; shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by the Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized (“Fourth Amendment: Search and Seizure.”).” Although this law applies to police officers it doesn’t necessarily apply to others in the criminal justice system. For instance, because a probation officer is assigned by the court system to monitor a probationer or parolee, they have the legal right to search them at any time this being one of the only situations where the 4th amendment does not apply.
In the court case of Ashcroft v. Iqbal 556 U.S. 662 (2009), There was arguments about ethics and professionalism. With the recent attacks that happened on September 11th, the country was put on a high alert to terrorism. An individual by the name of Iqbal had been arrested for criminal charges in which he had been put on restrictive conditions, with the belief that because he was of Pakistani ethnicity. Iqbal believed his 1st and 5th Amendment rights had been violated, because the FBI detained him based upon his ethnicity. He also stated he had been held and submitted to harsh conditions while in confinement. This was not the only case of someone with this ethnicity undergoing such conditions, many other Arab Muslims endured similar conditions. The actions of the government in this case were found to be feasible and the officials were not discriminatory against Iqbal. The courts rejected the defendant’s argument due to the lack of being able to produce any evidence that would lead to violations of his Fifth Amendment rights. At the time of this case the officials had immunity against any discriminatory allegations. However, because of this situation it led to a complete transformation in the litigation process for dismissing individual suits.
Based on what I have learned regarding the criminal justice system and how it works, I would have to say I would still want a career as a probation officer working with the courts. Having great interpersonal skills and being able to handle and manage workloads I think it best fits me. I also can work well when dealing with high stress and being involved with the courts you must adhere to the strictest of ethical and professional codes of conduct, so I believe it’s a great fit.
- “Fourth Amendment: Search and Seizure.” Retrieved from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-CONAN-1992/pdf/GPO-CONAN-1992-10-5.pdf
- “American Correctional Association.” Retrieved from http://www.aca.org/aca_prod_imis/aca_member
- “Ashcroft v. Iqbal.” Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-1015.ZS.html
- “U.S. Department of Justice, 2018” Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/jm/jm-1-4000-standards-conduct
- “Professional Ethics and Standards.” (2010). Retrieved from https://www.aclu.org/files/FilesPDFs/ALPR/oregon/Newberg-Dundee%20Police%20Department/29891-29898%20Ethics%20and%20Standards.pdf
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