Ethics in Criminal Justice Research - Essay Example

In the criminal justice system, ethics is related to deciding the quantum of punishment. For example, when to rehabilitate, deter, or impose just deserts…
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Ethics in Criminal Justice Research
Download file to see previous pages In more detail, ethics may be used to decide whether it is right to force someone to attend a treatment program against his or her will, or whether it is right to send an offender to jail instead of offering treatment programs to change his or her behavior. In fact, ethics has a significant role in criminal justice as the field involves exercising considerable degree of power and authority over others. There are certain principles that rule the field of research. They are respect for persons, beneficence, and justice. While respect for persons indicates that individuals should be treated as autonomous human beings and should be allowed to make their own decisions and choices, beneficence means to minimize the risks of harm and maximize the potential benefits. The third point, justice, means that people should be treated fairly and research should be designed in such a way that burdens and benefits are shared equitably.

Various Inevitable Ethical Hazards
The first problem that is faced by criminal justice research is lack of confidentiality. The basic tenets of research are to respect human dignity, privacy, and autonomy. However, in the case of criminal justice research, these points are vulnerably open to violation. For example, a researcher who got confidential information from a human subject may be directed by the court to appear as a witness, and the information the researcher will have to provide in the court may act against the human subject who revealed the information for the sake or research. Here, the researcher falls in an ethical dilemma. Either he has to ‘break the confidentiality of the information, or he has to face the law’ (Research Ethics, 2010). ...
This is especially so because the criminal justice system usually uses force and coercion as a means of eliciting truth. So, the researches in this field too may be using the same methods or similar methods in an attempt to learn about their impact or to improvise them. However, the Nuremberg Code puts forwards certain basic principles of research. They are voluntary consent, avoidance of unnecessary suffering, avoidance of accidental death or disability, termination of research if harm is likely, experiments to be conducted by highly qualified people, and result should be for the good of society. In addition, there are the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the 1964 Helsinki accord that are intended to ban torture of captives for good. However, more recently, there are the HEW guidelines that all federal agencies generally follow. The first one points out that the research subjects should be given a fair explanation of the purpose of the research, and its reasonable risks. However, evidently, considering the lack of confidentiality in the criminal justice research, it is highly unlikely for human research subjects to reveal any useful information considering the possible legal implications. Though the codes of ethics of American Sociological Association, American Society of Criminology and Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences point out that the researchers’ primary responsibility is towards ethics, they do not take into account the legal implications the researchers will have to face in case of such confidentiality. Regulations of ethically acceptable research There are three forms of regulations that control the ethically acceptable research. The first one is the guidelines of the Institutional Review Boards of ...Download file to see next pagesRead more
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