Theories, Values, and Duties

For this milestone, you will answer the following questions about the scenario you chose in Milestone One.

  1. Ethical Theories and Personal Values
    1. Identify the ethical theory you would rely upon to address this dilemma, and describe why it would be effective.
    2. How do you separate personal morals from ethics, and why is this important?
    3. When is it appropriate to let your morals guide your actions? Why?
  2. Duties
    1. Describe your course of action if you were faced with this dilemma. Why would this reaction be appropriate and effective?
    2. What is your responsibility as a professional in this scenario? Defend your response.
    3. Does your ethical responsibility take precedence over your personal views? What do you do if the two are conflicting?
    4. Identify the impact of society’s changing views of acceptable behavior as it applies to a criminal justice practitioner’s duties.

 

Scenario choice is below

Theories, Values, and Duties Scenario #2

You are working the midnight shift as a police officer. You receive a call to respond to a one-car accident where the car left the roadway and impacted with a tree. Upon your arrival, you see the badly damaged car up against the tree. There are no skid marks apparent and no witnesses around.

You approach the car and find the apparent driver behind the wheel. You immediately recognize the driver to be the mayor of your town. You immediately notice signs that the mayor is impaired by alcohol, including the smell of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath, the slurring of his speech, and the lethargy he is exhibiting. The mayor tells you that he swerved to avoid a dog, lost control and hit the tree.

The mayor is not injured. When you ask the mayor if he has consumed alc ohol, he tells you that he was at retirement dinner and only had one glass of wine. The mayor asks you to just complete an accident report and give him a ride home. You question him further, telling him you are concerned that he was driving while impaired. The mayor tells you that he is not im paired and not to worry about anything because you never actually saw him driving.

The mayor goes on to tell you that he will not say anything to anyone, and he lets you know that he has a lot of influence with what goes on at the police station, and that he has had his eye on you as an up-and-comer. You know that you could just complete an accident report identifying the cause of the accident as swerving to avoid an animal in the roadway. If you do not tell anyone that the mayor was drinking and he does not tell anyone, what is the worst that could happen?

 

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TextbookCriminal Law Today, Chapter 13

This chapter reviews the definitions of crime victims and assesses how organizations, individuals, and government agencies have worked to develop rights for crime victims.

A short historical perspective of victims’ rights is also discussed.

Article: About Victims’ Rights
This website reviews the historical development of victims’ rights in the United States, as well as current victims’ rights information. The article also reviews constitutional amendments associated with the rights of crime victims.

Article: Issues: Constitutional Amendments
This website provides a brief overview of victims’ rights legislation. It also allows you to select your own state and review laws currently in place for crime victims.

PDF: History and Overview of Rights and Services for Federal Crime Victims Within the United States
This paper provides a complete overview of historical federal crime victims’ legislation as well as the rights currently available to victims of crimes prosecuted by federal authorities.

The paper provides specific information on how major federal agencies, such as the FBI, work with victims of crime.

 

Whenever a crime occurs, it is easy to overlook the victims of the crime and instead focus on the details of the incident. Crime victims are persons whom a crime has been committed against (Schmalleger & Hall, 2014). These are usually people who have been the victim of any crime such as a robbery, assault, or a terroristic act.

In some circumstances, the victim of a crime can also be a family member, such as a parent, legal guardian, or other relative, if the actual victim is underage, suffers from a physical or mental condition, or when extraordinary situations exist. This can include incapacitation, such as being in a coma, or if the victim has died. If the victim has died because of the crime, his or her estate may also be considered a victim, depending on the state where the crime occurred.

Historically, the criminal justice system has not focused on victims. Instead, crime victims have been forced to deal with the aftermath of crime on their own. In ancient times, crime victims were usually allowed to take revenge on the perpetrator in the same way that they were affected by the crime. For example, in early biblical times, the concept of “an eye for an eye” was usually an accepted practice. For example, if a crime victim lost an eye because of an attack, he or she could do whatever it took to remove the eye (or other body part) of the person who had committed the crime.

Similarly, if a person caused the death of someone’s donkey, the crime victim could kill the donkey of the perpetrator. As society progressed into the Middle Ages, laws were changed to instead compensate crime victims. Instead of the crime victim taking revenge and killing the perpetrator’s donkey, he or she would be compensated so that he or she could purchase livestock or take the donkey belonging to the person convicted of committing the crime.

In modern times, crime victims are often compensated by the person committing the crime or through crime victim reparation programs. Nearly every state in the United States and the federal government now have compensation programs. In some states, these programs are funded by state legislative allocations and are usually designed to compensate victims when perpetrators cannot. However, the majority of these programs are operated by volunteers without any funding at all, with the primary purpose of assisting the victim with other needs, such as counseling, day care, or transportation (Schmalleger & Hall, 2014).

In addition to these services, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 provides funding to assist law enforcement, prosecutors, and victims programs for certain crimes, mostly for violent crimes. In addition, the act permits victims of these crimes to address their assailants during the sentencing phase of the trial; requires restitution for sexual crimes; and provides additional funding for support programs. Although the act only covers federal crimes, most states have adopted similar measures for crimes tried in state courts.

CRIME VICTIMS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT

Law enforcement agencies are now dedicating extra personnel to crimes scene in order to assist the victims of crime. For example, after a domestic battery has occurred, the agency may dispatch female officers or civilian employees to the scene to assist the victims. Assistance may range from simply consoling the victims to helping them to gather clothes and find a place to stay for the night.

Moreover, they will explain the judicial process to the victim and assist them with obtaining an order of protection, getting medical treatment, or with transportation to court. Police agencies throughout the United States are now employing crime victim advocates who have the responsibility of assisting crime victims, while others work closely with volunteer agencies to provide these services.

National law enforcement organizations such as the National Sheriffs’ Association have developed special training programs for agencies in order to assist them in learning how to help crime victims. In states with crime victim advocacy laws, the victims of crimes are entitled to the right to be treated with response and dignity; the right to be notified of all judicial proceedings; the right to be present at the hearing; and the right to issue a victims’ impact statement during the sentencing phase of the hearing, as well as compensation (Raines, 2010).

ETHICAL THEORIES AND PERSONAL VALUES

Although there are many theories related to ethics, three of the most studied theories are natural law, deontology, and utilitarianism (Pozger, 2014). Natural law supports man living according to basic, inherent human nature and is largely based upon religious principles. Comparably, deontology holds that our lives are fully governed by unbreakable laws that cannot be broken under any circumstance. In deontology, breaking laws to improve an outcome for any reason is prohibited.

Utilitarianism promotes social policies for government with a focus on good values and the greatest good for the greatest number of people (Schmalleger & Hall, 2014). In addition to these theories, there is virtue. The virtue theory primarily focuses on what a good person would do in certain situations, as well as faith, charity, courage, justice, and wisdom (Pozger, 2014). In addition to ethical theories, Western society has long focused attention on personal values, especially with regard to government leaders, clergy, and public servants.

Simply put, personal values are the “standards by which human behavior is judged” (Schmalleger & Hall, 2014). This includes such things as professionalism, good morals, or doing the right thing at the right time. Importantly, personal values often derive from ethical principles, including qualities such as honesty, charity, and respect. Criminal justice professionals must have all of these traits in order to effectively deal with the public and manage stressful incidents.

Demonstrating compassion and respect to crime victims, family members, and bystanders during extraordinary times is important. Often times police officers are the first people to arrive at the scene of crimes, disasters, traffic accidents, and domestic incidents, making ethics and personal values important (Alvidrez et al, 2008; Pozger, 2014).

References

Alvidrez, J., Shumway, M., Boccellari, A., Green, J. D., Kelly, V., & Merrill, G. (2008). Reduction of state victim compensation disparities in disadvantaged crime victims through active outreach and assistance: A randomized trial. American Journal of Public Health, 98(5), 882–888. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2007.113639

Herd, K. (2010, August). History and overview of rights and services for federal victims of crime within the United States. Paper presented at the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFEI) Symposium.

Pozger, G. D. (2014). Legal and ethical issues for health professionals. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Raines, J.B. (2010). Ethics in policing: Misconduct and integrity. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Schmalleger, F. J., & Hall, D. E. (2014). Criminal law today (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. for federal victims of crime within the United States. Paper presented at the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFEI) Symposium.

Pozger, G. D. (2014). Legal and ethical issues for health professionals. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Raines, J.B. (2010). Ethics in policing: Misconduct and integrity. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Schmalleger, F. J., & Hall, D. E. (2014). Criminal law today (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

 

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