Pollock ethics 8e_ch12
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Pollock ethics 8e_ch12
Discretion and Dilemmas in
Lecture slides prepared by Lisa J. Taylor
• Correctional officers and supervisors
• Treatment professionals (e.g.,
educators, counselors, psychologists,
• As large as a prison, it is intended to help
inmates reintegrate into society, but The NY
Times found that drugs, gangs and sexual
abuse were rife behind its walls.
• During a 10-month investigation of NJ’s system
of state-regulated halfway houses, the NY
Times put together a portrait of life in Bo
Robinson from dozens of interviews with
inmates and workers and a review of hundreds
of pages of internal reports, court filings and
• Inmates are housed in barracks-style rooms,
not cells. At night, one or two low-wage workers
typically oversee each unit of 170 inmates.
Outnumbered and fearful, these workers
sometimes refuse to patrol the corridors.
• Inmates regularly ask to be returned to prison,
where they feel safer.
• Correctional officers have a full range of control, including
denial of liberty and application of physical force.
• Correctional officers have discretionary powers, such as
charging an inmate with a disciplinary infraction versus
delivering a verbal reprimand.
• Disciplinary committees also exercise discretion when
making a decision to punish an inmate for an infraction.
• Treatment professionals have discretion in writing parole
reports, making decisions on classification.
In the 1970s, prison guards adopted correctional officer
as a more descriptive professional title.
The period also saw such dramatic changes as:
• Increased on-the-job danger
• Loss of control
• Increased stress
• Racial and sexual integration
• Higher standards of professionalism
• Expanded bureaucratization
Relationships With Inmates
• Both guards and inmates prefer to live in peace.
• Both feel they must take sides when conflict
Reciprocity: Officers become dependent on inmates for
completion of important tasks.
In return, officers may overlook inmate infractions and
allow a degree of favoritism.
Relationships With Inmates
• Officers have the power to make life difficult for inmates
they do not like.
• If officers become personally involved (e.g., sexually),
their professionalism is compromised.
• An alliance sometimes forms between guards and
inmates that is not unlike foreman-employee
• Officers insist that “you can be friendly with inmates, but
you can never trust them.”
• Mature officers learn to live with this inconsistency.
In June of 2010, correctional officer
David Francis of Charleston WV, was
implicated for allegedly sexually abusing,
harassing, and assaulting two female
inmates over the course of two years.
The inmates have filed suit against the
officer as well as the West Virginia
Department of Corrections for punitive
and compensatory damages.
Should the inmates profit from the unethical
behavior of the correctional officer?
What punitive action should be taken against
Types of Officers
Violence-prone: use the role of correctional officer to act
out an authoritarian role
Time-servers: serve time in prison much the same as
most inmates do (trying to avoid trouble and hoping
nothing goes wrong on their shift)
Counselors: seek to enlarge their job description;
perceive their role as inmate counselor/helper
Use of Force
• Physical force is often necessary in prison situations.
• Prior to the 1980s, overt physical force was used
routinely in U.S. prisons.
o “tune ups”
o “hanging up”
• Hudson v. McMillian
• Today, the incidence of excessive force is less common,
but it is still used in some institutions.
• Inmates have more to fear from each other than from
• An HIV positive inmate killed his ex-wife and
her companion, and subsequently went to
prison, where he bit a corrections officer.
• Upon transfer to the Charlotte Prison in
Florida, he was beaten by numerous guards
for extended periods of time, and denied
appropriate medical treatment.
• As a result of the abuse, Edwards attempted
suicide by cutting his wrists. He was then
moved to a psychiatric ward and shackled.
• Edwards ultimately bled to death over a 12
• 10 people arrested, 14 people lost their jobs,
3 told the truth and received probation and
community service. The 7 who denied
everything were acquitted.
• Jurors allegedly celebrated with officers after
Detention Officers in Jails
• In many respects, local jail officers have more difficult
responsibilities than state prison officers.
• Jail population is transitory and often unstable.
• Offenders may come into jail intoxicated, suffer from
undiagnosed diseases or psychiatric conditions, or be
• Visitation is more frequent, and family issues are more
• The constant activity and chaotic environment of a jail often
create unique ethical dilemmas.
• The professional goal of all treatment specialists is
to help the client.
• This goal may be fundamentally inconsistent with
the punitive prison/jail environment.
• A dilemma of treatment programs is deciding who
is to participate.
• Psychiatrists in corrections may feel they are
being used more for social control than treatment.
Treatment in Prison
• The fact that prisoners are captive audiences
makes them attractive subjects for
• Can inmates give voluntary and informed
• Treatment vs. custody issues
• Issues with faith based treatment programs
• 40-80 years ago, experiments were conducted
on prison inmates
• Hepatitis was given to mental patients in
Connecticut, a pandemic flu virus was
squirted up the noses of prisoners in
Maryland, and cancer cells were injected into
chronically ill people at a New York hospital.
• Researchers uncovered 40 ethically dubious
experiments by combing through medical
journals and news reports from that time
• The test subjects were often referred to as
“volunteers. “ A few of the studies indicated
that test subjects were incapacitated.
• In one study in Brooklyn in the early 1960s,
the “volunteers” didn't know they were being
injected with cancer cells.
Ethical Issues for
• Protection of psychological records
• Informed consent
• Refusal of services
• Knowledge of legal structure
• Accuracy and honesty
• Misuses of psychological information
• Multiple relationships
• Make sentencing/revocation
• Write violation reports.
• Responsibility to the offender’s family.
• Relationships/closeness to the offender.
• Part-time employment.
Probation Officer “Types”
• The Punitive Law Enforcer: Officers have a
tendency to use illegal threats and violate due
• The Welfare/Therapeutic Practitioner:
Officers infringe on clients’ privacy because they
are “helping” the client.
• The Passive Time Server: Officers do not
perform assigned duties.
• Former U.S. probation officer.
• Willfully violated several individual’s civil rights
by kissing and inappropriately touching them.
o He forced one victim to have sexual
intercourse with him during a home visit, as
part of his official duties. At the time of the
assault, he was wearing his badge and
carrying his government-issued firearm,
and the victim was not able to escape.
• The victims were afraid that no one would
believe them and that Walker, as their
probation officer, had the power to have them
incarcerated or otherwise punished.
• Sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by 5
years of supervised release. Walker will also
have to register as a sex offender under the
federal Sex Offender Registration and
Supervision of parole officers is stronger than probation officers.
The parole officer usually manages a caseload of older and
• 67 % of released inmates were charged with at least one
serious crime within three years.
• Studies indicate that the rate of recidivism is worse than it
was twenty years ago.
• Men, blacks, and young people are the most likely to
• Those who participate in property crimes are most likely to
return to criminal behavior.
• Low wages
• Incompetent promotion
• High caseloads
• Correctional ineffectiveness
• Emotional Investment