Ethics in Criminal Justice

Textbook:        Belshaw, S. H. & Johnstone, P. (2016). Ethics in the criminal justice system. Dubuque, IA: Kendal Hunt Publishing Company.


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APA FORMAT AND MUST USE IN-TEXT CITATIONS.   THIS IS NOT AN ESSAY PAPER AND DOES NOT NEED A COVER SHEET. One of the resources used must be the author of the unit reading. Min. 300 words.


Discussion postings should each contain a minimum of a 250 word initial response Note: 250 words is the minimum expectation. Additionally, you must reference three scholarly sources using APA Style for each topic in your discussion post if you expect to receive maximum points.


Question 1

A police officer close to retirement is training a rookie cop. Their shift is over and they are returning to the precinct.  Suddenly, they spot several teenagers smoking marijuana.  Relying on utilitarianism, explain how the officers’ choice NOT to pursue the matter is or is not consistent with moral principles.


Assignment: reply to the following peer’s statement. Respond Min 150 words (one reference)


from Alston, Jacynta, posted 08/30/2020 06:29 PM EDT

If the officer chooses not to intervene depending on someone’s perspective and the law it would be seen as unethical. It isn’t legal for teenagers to possess marijuana or  smoke it in a public place. Choosing not to intervene can lead the teens to more trouble, then again choosing to pursue it the teens may get a record for a misdemeanor. Marijuana is legal to obtain if there’s a prescription for it. The teens smoking the marijuana do not have a prescription and the purposes was not intended to be used recreationally. Does the officer pursue the teens when his shift is nearly over for a misdemeanor? It was stated that a cops job is never over. Regardless of what time you clock out you are still an officer, and is still legal to report and detain people as an off duty officer. Your job simply does not end. You also want to teach the rookie correctly and a refusal to do anything about the teens could influence the rookie into either doing the same thing or not performing his/her job correctly. Approaching the teens would be beneficial to show the rookie what to do in a similar situation.

There are so many things to go wrong for doing nothing. The teens could easily choose to drive while under the influence of drugs which would put others lives in peril. You took a sworn oath to uphold the law, and to ignore a potentially dangerous problem and ignoring the breaking of a law in front of a rookie simply due to wanting to leave the job on time would not be a good look and is immoral. To be an officer is to be self-less, which is easier said than done. We don’t want any more corruption or officers allowing certain people to get away with things that others cannot. I’m certain the parents would be happy if the officer intervenes for the sake of the children. I would say that I don’t think they should get a record, but a fine and maybe community service, after all even though it was a misdemeanor they chose to do it in public and was visible in front of law enforcement officers.


(American Psychological Assoc.)


King, R. S., & Mauer, M. (2006). The war on marijuana: The transformation of the war on drugs in the 1990s. Harm Reduction Journal3, 6–17.



Natapoff, A. (2015). Misdemeanor Decriminalization. Vanderbilt Law Review68(4), 1055–1116.


Gambling common among marijuana-smoking teens. (2001). Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter17(12), 4.


Assignment: reply to the following peer’s statement. Respond Min 150 words (one reference)


Sones, Steve, posted 09/01/2020 01:21 PM EDT

John Stuart Mill believed that humanity would agree that the consequences of human action play the most vital role in a person’s moral values (Miller, 2010). This concept was adopted as an extension of Jeremy Bentham’s “greatest happiness principle” (Burns, 2005, p. 49). In short, actions should be intended to produce the best outcome. Therefore, the officer’s decision to finish their shift instead of addressing an apparent violation of the law would be counter-productive. When applying utilitarian reasoning to this scenario, the officers involved are electing to make the best decision for themselves. However, they are overlooking the needs of society and the juvenile offenders.

The police officer’s avoidance of intervention would also violate actual consequence utilitarianism (McCartney & Parent, 2015). By allowing the juveniles to continue their behavior, the officer’s failure to act on what is wrong promotes immoral behavior. There is no foreseeable outcome in which the officer’s return to the station would produce a more positive response than addressing criminal conduct. Moreover, if police officers continually avoiding enforcing laws, overtime, people would stop obeying the rules, under the utilitarian theory, if the end result was a positive one (Weisburd, 2000). In a utilitarian society, it is essential to have moral rules. Consequently, without them, trust and social stability can be lost.

Additionally, Field Training Officers (F.T.O.s) play an instrumental role in developing new police officers. The purpose of the program, and utilitarianism for that matter, is to prepare officers for the profession’s rigors and, ultimately, make a positive contribution to society (Hall, 2014). The dismissive actions of the officers contradict the goal of both the program and theory. The motto of utilitarianism is “the greatest good for the greatest number” (Hall, 2014, para. 4). Therefore, the officer’s actions would go starkly against the moral principles of the utilitarian theory.


Burns, J.H. (2005). Happiness and utility: Jeremy Bentham’s equation. Utilitas, 17(1), 46-61. doi:10.1017/S0953820804001396

McCartney, S. & Parent, R. (2015). Ethics in Law Enforcement.

Hall, V. (2014). Calculating consequences: The utilitarian approach to ethics. Santa Clara University.

Miller, D.E. (2010). John Stuart Mill: Moral, social, and political through. Polity Publishing.

Weisburd, D. (2000). Police attitudes toward abuse of authority: Findings from a national study. US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.


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