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Honesty, Justice, Due Process, and Crime Control: An Ethical Dilemma - Essay Example

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In considering the ethical issues relevant to the ideas of honesty, justice, due process, and crime control, we are confronted by the radically divergent practicality of concepts that should be harmonious. It would be reasonable to expect, in a civilized society, that we can synthesize these elements without too much problem…
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Honesty, Justice, Due Process, and Crime Control: An Ethical Dilemma
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Extract of sample "Honesty, Justice, Due Process, and Crime Control: An Ethical Dilemma"

Download file to see previous pages Justice is sometimes served by dishonest acts. Similarly, the safety afforded the accused by due process can circumvent crime control and send the message that the punishment for criminal behavior is often escapable through manipulation of the system. This negates the deterrent value of effective law enforcement and implies that if criminals are smart enough, they can use the constitutional protections within the criminal justice system to escape punishment. The four elements must be balanced with their attendant ethical issues into a system that delivers justice and crime control without compromising honesty or due process.
There is a difference between honesty and justice, and we will consider a hypothetical situation in which dishonesty can actually serve justice. Honesty is defined as "the characteristic of being fair, truthful, and morally upright" (Encarta, 2005, n.p.) Justice, in terms of its application to the legal system, is characterized by "fairness or reasonableness... [in] the act of applying or upholding the law" (Encarta, 2005, n.p.). Thus, in the definition of both words, we have the idea being fair. Ethically, this can provide a personal dilemma when the unfairness of an individual action results in accomplishing the fairness associated with the successful application of the law. For example, we can posit the example of an un-truthful act on the part of a law enforcement officer that results in the conviction of a guilty person. Let's say that a police investigator has spent months on the surveillance of a drug dealer. He or she knows that the individual is a drug trafficker as a result of watching their behavior over a long period of time. When the time comes for an arrest, the perpetrator has no drugs on his person or in his vehicle; so the officer plants a small amount of heroin in the individual's possession to bolster the evidence needed for the arrest and conviction. Clearly unethical, the officer's actions are neither fair nor morally upright under the strict definition of honesty. Yet, in terms of the service of justice, the guilty drug dealer is convicted and taken off the streets. This is an ethical problem faced by law enforcement daily. It is the application of honesty to justice and, for many in law enforcement, the ends justify the means. In other words, the technically dishonest act of the police investigator results in justice being served because the truly guilty perpetrator is convicted. Under ethical analysis, this is obviously wrong; yet, the inescapable conclusion is that justice has been served.
Due Process and Crime Control
The second set of considerations is related to due process and crime control. The idea of due process is to protect the rights of the accused and assure that there is no rush to judgment without the consideration of all the evidentiary factors in a case. This idea has led to many rules and procedures within the criminal justice system that protect the accused. One of the fundamental tenets of the system is that it is better for the guilty to go free than for the innocent to be punished. As Roger Cossack's article notes, "Blackstone said many years ago ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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