Ethical Influences and Misconduct in the Prison System

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Misconduct by Prison/Correctional Officer Are ethical influences imperative in the deterring of corruption by correctional officers within the prison system? “Sometimes corruption is slowed by shedding light into what was previously shadowed”. (P Wolfowitz et al 1943) The human resources in the criminal justice system, incessantly has opportunities and temptations of committing unethical acts. Inclusively in correctional institutions, correctional officers are no exception. Prisons are by nature dangerous institutions whereby correctional officers portray themselves as the last line of defense and protectors of society when all else fails.

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The police arrest the offenders, the judges and magistrates convicts and sentence offenders and the prison officers keeps them locked away, under lock and key; subsequently keeping the most difficult, violent, sadistic criminals away from the innocent vulnerable members of society. It could be even debated that correctional officers duties can be considered under the teleological ethical system pertaining to the bad act of physically depriving human beings of their liberty, for the good of protecting society. The prison environment is shrouded by a level of secrecy and has its own culture and level of consciousness, which incorporates the invasion of corruption. There is an assumption that prison corruption can be deterred by the promoting of certain ethical systems, such as the ethics of care, the ethics of virtue while incorporating professional ethics, all with the aim of instilling a higher level of civility to evolve the correctional system with an aim to being less corrupted and a more utilitarian success. Defining civility and corruption Civility can be described as being self aware, having good faith, fairness, equity, humility, unselfishness, generosity, transcendence, compassion, and, human sensitivity regardless of their legal liberty status or who the inmate is. (Sam S. Souryal )These characteristics transcend proponents of ethics of virtue and care. In the correctional institutions ethics of care incorporates treating others with dignity, having a sense of mindfulness and promoting a rehabilitative environment. In the ethics of virtue treating others with respect and having positive characteristics is of great significance. (Pollock J et al) Although it may be challenging at times, it is at that moment when the professional ethics comes or should come to the forefront. In contrast corruption can be characterized by the vices of dishonesty, illegality, cruelty, and often deceitfulness. Corruption reinforces the instinctive urges to fabricate, violate, illegally acquire and cover up wrong doing or unethical and corrupted acts. There are three categories of corruption. Acts of misfeasance pertains to failure to perform legitimate acts that prison officials are supposed commit but instead willingly violate for personal gain. Acts of Misfeasance usually occurs in high ranking officials in the prison hierarchy.

Acts of malfeasance pertains to the commission of illegal acts or acts of misconduct that officers knowingly commit in violation of laws and or rules and regulations, such as the improper use of authority. Acts of malfeasance are usually committed by the lower or middle management levels(Braswell, McCarthy, & McCarthy, 1984, p. 235).Acts of nonfeasance pertains to failure to perform legal duty, which can occur at all level of staff within the institution. (Braswell et al., 1984, p. 234). Braswell et al. (1984, p. 234) “All institutions are prone to corruption and to the vices of their members.”(Morris West et al 1916) Correctional Officers’ Subculture In correctional institutions there exist a correctional officers’ subculture. It can be argued that the beliefs, values and behaviours that form an “officer code” contributes to the rationalization of unethical and even illegal behaviours of correctional officers.

The prison officer subculture depicts that the inmate may be considered the enemy, along with superiors and society in general. ( Sam s Souryal et al) The subculture is usually initiated and instilled on new officers by the veteran officers, often through Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory process. Whereby, an observer’s behaviour changes after viewing the behaviour of a model. The observer will imitate the model’s behaviour if the model possesses characteristics that are desirable or acceptable. ( ) The subculture consists of, unwritten rules such as “don’t rat”. Never rat out an officer in favour of an inmate, and never cooperate in an investigation or testify against a fellow officer in regard to that officer’s treatment of inmates. Never make a fellow officer look bad in front of inmates regardless of what the officer did.

Always support an officer in a dispute with an inmate, therefore don’t criticize a fellow officer, but instead support him or her against any inmate. Always support sanctions against inmates which include the use of illegal force. In addition don’t be a “white rat”, meaning the prohibition of any behaviour, attitude or expressed opinion that could be interpreted as sympathetic toward inmates. Additionally there is also the perception by prison officers that they are despised by society at large and therefore should maintain officer solidarity against all outside groups, which include the media, and the general public. As a consequence of this prison officer subculture, it can be argued that the prison officer subculture contributes and maintains and supports the tremendous amount of employee unethical misconduct and corruption which is usually unreported. (. ) There exist a psychological theory developed by John Locke (. )that proposes that everyone is born with a “blank slate” also known as Tabula Rasa. Furthermore it could be envisioned that coming into the prison environment as a recruit you are being born with a blank slate and you gain your knowledge from your environment and experiences. One does not born corrupt therefore one learns corruption from associations within the job.

Therefore it could be assumed that a more ethical civil work environment and ethical work culture would lower the probability of officers becoming corrupt. Rules That Guide The Trinidad and Tobago Prisons Officer Against Corrupted Practices Public agencies including correctional institutions are mandated and expected to operate within a set of rules and regulations. Some examples of the rules and regulations in the Trinidad and Tobago prison service regulations code of conduct that exist to define what is considered unethical acts or corruption, or what acts can lead to corruption, includes ; (20-e) making False Statements, that is to say, if an officer knowingly makes a false, misleading or inaccurate statement, either orally or in any official document, or with intent to deceive, destroys or mutilates and such document or book or alters or erases any entry . False statements usually lead to a cover up of some sort. (20-h)Improper relations with prisoners or exprisoners, that is to say if a prison officer communicates with a prisoner for an improper purpose, or allows any undue familiarity between a prisoner and himself and any servant of the prisoner or knowingly and without authority communicates with any ex-prisoner; Or knowingly, and without proper authority allows any person to communicate with a prisoner who is not authorized to do so. An officer having improper relations with a inmate will only escalate to more corruption , even if being compensated for allowing unauthorized or improper communication and relations to take place. (20-j)Trafficking, that is to say if a prison officer knowingly and without proper authority carries out any pecuniary or business transactions with or on behalf of any prisoner or exprisoner or with a friend or relative of any prisoner or exprisoner, or brings into the prison or carries out of the prison or attempts to carry out, to or for any prisoner any article whatever; or accepts any present or consideration from any prisoner or exprisoner or from a friend or relative of any prisoner or ex-prisoner. Trafficking mainly depicts when officers bring in or allow to be brought in dangerous contraband such as drugs, weapons, alcohol and even cell phones. (20-k)Corrupt practice, that is to say if knowingly, he solicits or receives an unauthorized fee, gratuity or other consideration in connection with his duties as a prison officer, or improperly uses his position as a prison officer for his private advantage. Unlawful or unnecessary use of authority, that is to say, if he deliberately acts in a manner calculated to provoke a prisoner, or in dealing with a prisoner uses force unnecessarily or where the application of force to a prisoner is necessary uses undue force. It has been perceived the prison officers engage in brutality against inmates. (20-d) Neglect of duty, that is if he neglects or without good and sufficient cause to promptly and diligently to do anything which it is his duty as a prison officer to do, contributes to the occurrence of any loss, damage, or injury to any person or property. It has been alleged that prison officers by “turning a blind eye” has allowed the physical and even sexual assault on inmates by other inmates for payment or payback for an inconceivable crime such as raping and killing of a baby or a child.

Allowing a sort of jail justice. There exist a psychological theory developed by John Locke (. )that proposes that everyone is born with a “blank slate” also known as Tabula Rasa. Furthermore It could be envisioned that coming into the prison environment as a recruit you are being born with a blank slate and you gain your knowledge from your environment and experiences. One does not born corrupt therefore one learn corruption from associations within the job. Therefore it could be assumed that a more ethical civil work environment and ethical work culture would lower the probability of officers becoming corrupt. Correctional officers have had their careers ended in disgrace as a consequence of unethical acts which are sometimes considered illegal. Some officers may engage in brutality against an inmate or allow inmates to assault each other which could possibly result in death.

Additionally officers bring in or allow to be brought in dangerous contraband such as drugs, weapons, alcohol and even cell phones. In addition, there have been accusations of officers allowing or contributing to being perpetrators of inappropriate sexual activity with inmates. Correctional officers who engage in unethical and unprofessional activities can have criminal prosecutions brought against them and furthermore expose the correctional institution and by extension the state to lawsuits. .( prison officers may think they are doing a good by dealing with the scome of society and by keeping society safe) if the correctional controlling authority (its leadership) is keen on promoting organizational civility, the rates of corruption by both correctional officers and inmates will fall by themselves.( VIRTUE OF CARE CAN ASSIST IN THE REDUCTION OF CORRUPTUION WITHIN THE PRISON SYSTEM) utilitarian approach, Professionalism inspires workers to excel in whatever they do, truth over deception, and social utility over personal gain-Concomitantly if a conflict arises between matters of fact and matters of value, (DISCONNANCE) professional agencies should pursue the former without ignoring the morality of the latter (simon, 1997,Souryal,2007) Civility Is Instrumental In A Positive Ethical Culture In can be contended that an ethical work environment is instrumental in the development of an affirmative ethical work culture and with it civility and integrity. The correctional institutions must establish and implement a reformed level of ethical culture with assurance that each officer would have the knowledge of moral principles needed and expected in their performance of their job.

Characteristics of ethical professionalism such as honesty, obligation, duty, responsibility and importantly the responsibility of an officer to report the administration when there is probable cause that corruption or any unethical behavior is occurring .Additionally the pillars of civility within the institution stands on the institution’s inclination to act in an manner of morality rather than deceptively. Challenges in the implementation of a civil and ethical correctional organization. There exists the contention relating to the implementation of a civil and uncorrupted work force due to the optional management styles of the operational management department. The management of an institution is reinforced and sustained by its workers and in this case the officers. If the managers have adapted an egotistic managerial model of only being concerned of making they look good, it would negatively impact upon the embarkment and embracement of a civil and corrupt free organization. Additionally managers of an institution must be exemplars in the aspects of integrity and ethics. It would be hypocritical and contradictory to demand integrity and ethical behavior from the subordinate correction officers when it is being observed that the managers are using their authority to perform corrupt practices such as violating policies and using the prison resources for their own personal benefit. Also there is a managerial norm in institutions of favoritism between staff which is a factor which is sometimes used in certain aspects of the operational responsibilities and running of the institution. This managerial norm is also very detrimental to the institution because it promotes a negative organization culture and thereby a negative civility status. Implementing Anti-corruption Strategies There are various measures that can be implemented in the fight against corruption. A front door method is improving recruitment evaluations and requirements.

The recruit stage is the ideal place and situation to improve and sustain the institution’s ethical status level. The recruitment drive should incorporate psychological and character assessments for example recognition and production tests which require an applicant to reason through a dilemma and provide some rationale.(Pollock JM 2010) Managers of Correctional Institutions should ensure that their recruitment standards are at a certain level to prevent unwanted applicants from entering the service. The management group of a prison institution is very influential in its capacity in its attempt to reduce corruption. The management group must be perceived as credible thereby portraying the ethics of professionalism. They must also display the ethics of care and virtue by being consistent, reasonable, and sympathetic to the needs of both their officers and their charges. Additionally there should be a reformation of supervisory techniques.

Old supervisory methods should be reformed to civil quality based techniques. Techniques such as not only involve monitoring for unethical and corrupt behavior among the subordinates but also, their colleagues. Keeping in mind the utilitarian aspect, which is supposed to surpass individual loyalty. (. ) The institution’s level of civility can be measured by the cumulative talent the wors culturally gain from their work experience, REFERENCES Morris West. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2014, from Web site: Paul Wolfowitz. (n.d.).

Retrieved March 16, 2014, from Web site: Deterring Corruption by Prison Personnel A Principle-Based Perspective Sam S. Souryal Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas The Prison Journal Volume 89 Number 1 March 2009 21-45 A© 2009 SAGE Publications

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Ethical Influences and Misconduct in the Prison System. (2017, Jun 26). Retrieved November 26, 2022 , from

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