Parole: Moral Dilemma in Criminal Justice Case Study


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Moral Dilemma in Criminal Justice

Case 1: The Parole Board

Critical dilemmas require critical decisions to minimize the risks that come with every cause of action. For this case, there is no guarantee that the release of prisoners on the federal process beyond the parole board control will serve its purpose without inflicting breaches in the security of the community. The alternative is therefore to take the less risky route of releasing the inmates by broadening the parole eligibility criteria.

As much as this is ethically wrong, it is a morally acceptable option. This is because prison overcrowding poses many risks health wise and it compromises the safety level in these facilities. For instance, many communicable diseases such as tuberculosis can spread uncontrollably in overcrowded populations. It also becomes impossible for the workforce available to keep law and order in such situations.

According to Pollock (2014), the purpose of prisons is to rehabilitate inmates to make them better people as they go back to the society. It is, therefore, essential to safeguard them from such incidences as well as respect their human rights (Bachman & Schutt, 2013). The moral question in this case Robert is faced with the moral question of the safety standards in the prison and at the same time he had to consider the probability of the inmates reoffending as evidenced by the assessment results.

The motivator to actors’ response is the fact that by releasing prisoners under the parole board control this department will have full control over them as opposed to the federal process. This is important because it only allows the release of low- and medium-level offenders to the community correction programs (Pollock, 2014). This ensures that these offenders re-enters the community in a well-regulated and managed procedure. Since it deals with inmates who are completing their term, the program acts as a last chance to the prisoners before incarceration.

The consequence of broadening the parole system will be the risk of releasing violent convicts who might disregard their agreement resulting to their return in prison and hence accelerate the overcrowding issue.  From the results of assessment, it is evident that the parole system does not provide the right punishment for the prisoners since it has been found out that the prisoners are likely to offend again if they are subjected to the parole system. As such it is the obligation of Robert to decide on the corrective measure of dealing with the issue at hand.

Subsequently, he is supposed to give the correct information to the governor who will execute the plan (Bachman & Schutt, 2013). The federal system is, however, riskier as the released inmates are difficult to monitor and can, therefore, lead to increased crime in the community. This will lead the probationers back to prison, and therefore the overcrowding problem will not have been solved (Pollock, 2014). On the other hand, all the prisoners cannot be held in the same prisoners since as the situation is the prisoners are already overcrowded. This could bring other problems in the picture most importantly the health and the safety standards in the prison.

Considering the risk assessment of both options, it is clear that none would help unravel the problem at hand efficiently. Robert should ask the governor to consider expansion of prison facilities to accommodate more inmates. This will be both ethically and morally considerate because it will ensure prisoners are taken care of without disregarding neither their security nor that of the community. This proves to be the only conceivable way of solving this problem because, the probation and parole officers would experience diverse caseloads with the large numbers of inmates, therefore, limiting their capacities of supervising them (Pollock, 2014).

It is considered the only undisputable way of protecting convicts from the numerous risks that they face in overcrowded prisons without comprising on public safety. Proper prison conditions will also ensure that the lawbreakers will come out as helpful people due to the various correction programs offered to them. Overcrowding will only make the wardens anticipate releasing them without considering whether they have reformed or not so long as they have served their jail term.

Case 2: The Warden

In this case, William is facing a dilemma on whether to compromise on the inmates’ expenditure by cutting the health and food expenses to afford over time officers as well as replacement pay employees. This will, in turn, assist in eradicating the looming danger of understaffing which could lead to several other problems. By cutting on the food and medical budget, he will be able to pay the officers’ overtime as well as increase workforce to control the increasing population in the prisons (Bachman & Schutt, 2013).

It will also motivate the personnel, and they will enhance security and normality in the facility. As much as this may seem like the best alternative Robert has to think critically because denying the prisoners their rights to food and medical care is immoral and will result in severe consequences which might be fatal (Pollock, 2014). The motivational factor for this option is the need to maintain the workforce meant to prevent the triggers that can cause the employees to quit or fail to report on duty as required.

 In my opinion, this is the best pronouncement that warden could implement to handle the ethical dilemma. Although this alternative will achieve the goal of maintaining the employees it will compromise on the safety of the prisoners. More so it might result in deaths of the lawbreakers emanating from the tremendous infections that are present in those facilities and are aggravated by the increasing populations.

The prisoners might also become rebellious, and this can trigger them to go on strike or even attack the prison wardens worsening the situation. Also, depriving the inmates of their medical rights will lead to increased epidemics that may further cost the facility a lot of money on treatment (Cole, Smith & DeJong, 2015). On the other hand, by not taking this option, the workers feel insecure and unappreciated, and this will prompt them to quit their jobs or fail to undertake their responsibilities.

They will also be overworked, and this will reduce their effectiveness when performing their duties. These workers will also become reluctant; this will compromise the safety of the facility and with the increasing population, it will be difficult for the limited workers to manage and control the inmates.

William should consider utilizing other amenities such as community supervision programs to decongest the prisons. These programs will take care of the prisoners who are completing their jail terms as well as those with minor offenses (Pollock, 2014). Prisoners with drug abuse and mental health problems should be taken to other rehabilitation centers that fit their needs best. This is because staying will only alleviate their conditions because drugs are also present in prison with inadequate labor it is impossible to keep track of such occurrences (Pollock, 2014).

Community supervision will incorporate prisoners in more useful activities including counseling, life skills training and educational based programs. This will not only help in the reforming of these lawbreakers but will also equip them with the much-needed self-development capabilities. Specialized courts should also be utilized to ensure the inmates placed under parole are complying with the community correction programs (Pollock, 2014).

The ethical basis for this decision is to ensure everybody in this situation is suited by the final decision that is made. The decision should entail the well-being of the prisoners and at the same time ensure that the prison is appropriately staffed. By utilization of other facilities, the overcrowding problem will be solved without compromising on the safety of the workers or cutting the food and health budget for the inmates. This will ensure that the personnel will feel secure in their working environments and will, therefore, be able to manage the remaining number of inmates.

It is, therefore, the duty of the warden to ensure that proper measures are established and implemented. Regarding drug and alcohol dependency, addicts recover better and faster when placed under specialized programs as opposed to incarceration. Therefore the warden should make plans to ensure that other institutions are engaged in taking care of the high inflow of the criminal offenders. It is therefore in the interest of all individuals to ensure that community supervision strategies are specifically used to ensure that all the lawbreakers are punished properly.

Therefore in the meeting it will be appropriate that William responds in respect to alternative strategies of handling the increased rate of prisoner’s inflow. Designation of some of the prisoners particularly the petty offenders to community based work release is one of the most effective strategies that would ensure that the facilities are not overcrowded. On the other hand, the problem of understaffing will be automatically addressed if overcrowding is addressed (Pollock, 2014). This is because it will be easier to cut down the costs in the prison when it is not overcrowded.

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Case 3: The District Attorney

The moral question that faces Martha is the question of being supportive of the governor or stand with her campaign platform of plea bargaining and reduced sentences for convicts. It would seem morally right to make good of her words during her campaign, but this option will compromise the security in the community as well as her relationship with the mayor (Maxfield & Babbie, 2014).

This brings about the dilemma since the district understands that the criminal records suggest that majority of the arrests are from the drug culture.  It would be, therefore, unethical since a district attorney should be more concerned about the people’s security rather keeping her word to the convicts. However, she will appear like a traitor, and this is not a good picture to her future campaigns. Martha should be critical in her decision making for her to make the most out of this dilemma.

Martha is motivated by the fact that she will need the mayor and the community in her future campaigns for it to be a success. By deciding to support the mayor she will be assured of a smooth relationship between her and the police chief which will play a major role in the success of her campaigns. She will also secure support from the mayor and other stakeholders in law keeping during her future campaigns (Pollock, 2014). Apart from that, it is seemingly morally wrong to go easy on gun-toting drug merchants by reducing their sentences or plea-bargaining.  

This is because such an action will be seen as collaboration with the wrongdoers which will imply that the district attorney is collaborating with the wrongdoers which can be likened to blackmail (Cole, Smith & DeJong, 2015). However, by going back in her words, she might as well forget future support from the community as this will portray her as a betrayer. She will, therefore, reduce her chances of remaining attorney general if the community loses faith in her. Also, it is morally wrong to deny the prisoners a fair trial by supporting the governor to exercise aggressive arrest of the drug felons (Braswell, McCarthy & McCarthy, 2014).

According to the analysis of both options, Martha should ensure that the arrestees face the law and are responsible for their offenses. This should, however, be done in that makes them face a fair trial and a sentence that matches the crimes committed by each (Cullen, & Chouhy, 2016). She should ask her staff to convict the lawbreakers each according to his/her crimes and not by treating and judging them as a group.

She should also ask the mayor and the chief police to introduce new sentences for the drug dealers especially those who do not involve murder or other serious crimes (Banks, 2016). These sentences can incorporate life training skills that will help the prisoners with alternative means of livelihood. This will reduce the art of drug hawking without necessarily being tough on the convicts. Subsequently, if she considers the morally right course of action, then it is most likely that she will get the support that she aspires to get.

            This option also ensures that the convicts will be equipped differently as they go back to the community. Otherwise convicting the drug felons harshly will only result in bitter inmates who will be back to drug dealing as soon as they finish their jail terms. Also, by grouping the arrestees according to the level of their crimes, it will help the prosecutors determine the best sentence for each of them (Pollock, 2014).

This will result in long term cleaning of the streets in one way instead of convict and release style. The community’s security and the inmate’s interests will be met without compromising Martha’s ethical and moral responsibilities. It will, therefore, be a win-win situation for both her and the mayor (Pollock, 2014). This will ensure that she will have future support from the mayor, the police, and the entire community.

Case 4: The Officer

The moral and ethical aspect, in this case, is that Linda cannot decide on whether first to arrest the suspect or honor the dispatchers call and act as back up. It is immoral for her to let the suspect go despite the fact she has the evidence that the suspect is a drug dealer (Cole, Smith & DeJong, 2015). Although there have been several complaints regarding the fact that the police in the area have been engaging in making minor arrests, the officer happens to encounter such a case.

Coincidentally the officer happens to be in the middle of making an arrest regarding drugs when she receives the call to attend to a burglary in progress. However, it is also her responsibility to assist officers in patrol especially in times of emergency such as this one (Banks, 2016). Linda should, therefore, be critical to the most prudent decision for this dilemma. She should make a move that will benefit the interests of the community’s security as well as the nature of her job.

The fact that Linda might lose her job for handling a ‘petty drug case’ instead of serving as backup for the progressing burglary is the motivator for her course of decision. The easier route is letting loose the suspect and declare herself available for the backup (Albanese, 2015). By so doing she will secure her job and avoid the griping that comes with her colleagues about her not being available for this call of duty (Banks, 2016).

She will also save time and spare the already clogged up system. After all, it is also impossible for her to arrest the suspect without the help of the contraband. As much this seems like the right thing to do, it is unethical for Linda to leave a drug dealer suspect for whom she has evidence. This will compromise on the community’s security because drug dealing comes with many other crimes (Bazemore & Boba, 2007).

It will also encourage other culprits resulting to drug-dealer laden streets, which might be uncontrollable or cost the law keepers a lot of money to control. Letting the suspect go would also indicate that such a crime is not as important and therefore would encourage other drug peddlers (Bazemore & Boba, 2007).

Putting all these factors into considerations, Linda should truthfully tell the dispatcher that she is unavailable. Being a backup for the progressing burglary is essential but arresting and charging the suspect is equally important (Banks, 2016). She should also ask for a backup to help her arrest this suspect instead of risking her life trying to arrest this man alone.  Disregarding the fact that there have been complaints regarding the situation at hand attending to it would be the appropriate course of action rather than setting free a probable convict (Albanese, 2015).

As much this will put her at risk, it is the moral and ethical thing to do. Since she has evidence that the suspect is indeed a drug dealer, it will not take her long to convict this suspect. This will therefore not be one of those cases that clog up the system. Furthermore, the evidence that she already has at hand could be used to build a case for the suspect, and the only remaining step would be to take him to the station. This is because the only thing she needs is to identify the suspect to be able to charge him.  

It would be advisable that other officers especially those who are off duty should be utilized in such a case to act as the backup. She should also let her sergeant see the dangers posed by such drug dealers especially if they are left uncontrolled (Braswell, McCarthy, & McCarthy, 2014). This cause of action might result in Linda losing her job, but it is important to protect the people and save the law keepers time and money in the future instead of staying employed and only serving out of obligation.


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