Beginning with the war on drugs in the sass’s, numerous states along with the federal government enacted statues that required Judges to carry out lengthy sentences on any individuals caught with various amounts of illegal drugs, no matter the circumstances. This imperative principal stance has only created a prison population on steroids in the United States. An example is the story of Brenda Valiance who is serving a 12-year sentence for giving her aunt a ride too home not realizing that is was a house in which her aunt sold drugs.
Although Brenda had no idea that a cocaine sale was taking place, a dealer working with a prosecutor to make deal for himself for a lower sentence testified that Valiance in fact did have knowledge. The Judge that passed the sentence did not agree with the 12-year prison term and stated, “This case is a perfect example of why the minimum mandatory sentences and the sentencing guidelines are not only absurd, but an insult to Justice” (“Families against Mandatory Minimums”, n. D. ).
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Attorney General Eric Holder stated, “Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no good law enforcement reason”. He added that the strong enforcement of federal crime laws is essential, but prosecuting and incarcerating our ay to develop a safer country is not the way to go. Imposing lengthy sentences to criminals that are first time offenders creates disrespect for the system and the public is not any safer for it (Savage, 2013). Adding to the problem of individuals incarcerated is the hesitancy of parole boards to grant parole to eligible inmates.
Parole boards fear the public criticism that arises when an inmate is released and then commits a new offence; therefore, they may be exceedingly conservative when making the decision to release someone to community supervision. Regardless of he “tough on crime” rhetoric that so often calls for incarcerating more criminals, the practice is not effective for public safety. In actuality, serving prison time has shown minute differences in recidivism rates for individuals that spend short stints in prison compared to those that are incarcerated for longer periods.
The parole board should consider releasing older inmates. The United States Department of Justice has illustrated that people over the age of 45 are considerably less likely to participate in criminal behavior and have lower arrest rates subsequent to release than younger inmates. It is uncommon that an individual serving a life sentence becomes a danger to citizens upon reaching senior years. The imperative principle idea that all Judgments should be made according to absolute rules should not apply in these cases.
The chair of the parole board should discuss a plan with the Governor similar to what the state of California is doing in an effort to reduce their prison population. Senator Steinberg of California has come up with a strategy for prison overcrowding through performance-based grant programs that would provide an incentive to counties to broaden proven rehabilitation, drug and mental health retirement programs for offenders. 2. The Warden With a prison that is overcrowded and short of staff, there is an issue of correction officers quitting due to safety reasons.
A prison cannot be run safely when the inmates outnumber the staff by large margins. With the budget cut, and no adjustments permitted, Williams problems have to be solved without any additional monetary relief. William could use the money he has to provide more for the corrections officers than for the prison inmates, which will ensure the officer’s salaries and keep them on board. This would be ethically wrong because although he inmates are criminals, they do have the right to eat and receive medical treatment when necessary.
A situation such as this one could ensue in a riot and all will be in danger. William should take advantage of the off-site work release program. The program should only be for those inmates who have been incarcerated for minimal offenses such as misdemeanors or non-violent crimes that are serving short sentences. There would be a reduced chance of these types of inmates posing a danger to those that oversee them or society since their offenses were not a danger to anyone in the first place. Inmates incarcerated for minor infractions are less likely to run away or commit additional criminal acts.
Inmates with clean prison records are the least likely that would take a chance of ruining their shot at Jobs that could turn into meaningful and permanent employment. There have been issues in states such as New York that have work release programs in which inmates have committed crimes while on release, however the inmates were imprisoned for crimes such as robbery, assault and manslaughter. These are not the types of prisoners that should be considered for such a program (Navaho, 1994). Work release facilities serve as a channel between life in prison and life in society.
The residents in work release facilities concentrate on transition to include seeking and retaining Jobs, re- connecting with their family members, and becoming members of community that are productive while under supervision. This ethics of care meets the needs of all and preserves enriching relationships (Pollock, 2012). Work release provides opportunity for self-improvement, while helping inmates in constructing an residents are likely to be successful in retaining employment, and finding housing.
Since Williams budget is mostly dedicated towards food and medical expenses for the inmates, he should push for the release of the elderly inmates as well as the inmates that have been incarcerated for non-violent crimes or misdemeanors. If he does this, he will have additional funds in his budget, the prison guards will have fewer inmates to supervise and will not feel as vulnerable. The union should be satisfied with this plan of action. As far as the work release program, there is no such thing as a “no risk assessment”. There is always a chance that an inmate would violate the rules of the program.
However, the violation as the inmate that is non- violent or elderly will be minimal. Therefore, if there are any consequences for William they will not be disparaging. 3. The District Attorney Martha runs the risk of losing her credibility should she decide not to pursue her conservative platform of no plea deals and reduced sentences for felons. If she does decide to go after cases that are weak, without evidential support, and that are simply losers, she is wasting the taxpayers’ dollars and only creating an appearance that her office is serving the publics interest when it clearly is not.
A prosecutor is to seek Justice and not to simply pursue as many convictions as possible. There are discretionary rules that prohibit prosecutors from pursuing charges when probable cause does not exist (Pollock, 2014). Martha must decide how can she save face and at the same time how she can perform her duty of seeking Justice and not mere convictions. If she chooses to prosecute trivial cases, is she pursuing an ethical formalistic view whereas she believes she is truly doing the right thing for the right reasons?
Alternatively, is she pursuing a utilitarianism view in which she is respecting these minor offenses for the greater good for all concerned? This situation is not only a dilemma for Martha, it is also an embarrassing one for the reason that she ran her campaign on overtly conservative views against plea bargaining and reduced prison terms for convicted felons. Now she is in the position of going back on her word to the public that elected her. If she intends to prosecute cases in which there is minor evidence, she is wasting time and money for the city.
If she does not, the public will perceive her to be non-committal and Just another dishonest politician trying to vie for higher office. Although Martha has an ethical dilemma, she has the responsibility to provide her chief of staff with some direction as to what to do. Dismissing or reducing prison sentences for known felons will definitely not be the best course of action. The best course of action for Martha to take is to direct the prosecutors to only take the somewhat serious of the cases to trial and not pursue the weaker ones.
The weakest of the cases should be either plea bargained or dismissed. This way she is performing her Job with some objectivity and at the same time, she is in some way pacifying the mayor and police hive. Holding a meeting with the chief of police and discussing her concerns about officers arresting offenders without substantial evidence is hurting her office and only crowding his Jail. She needs to let him know that the officers need to bring her strong evidential cases that can prosecute vigorously. 4.
The Officer Does the officer release a young man in order to assist other officers during a burglary? Alternatively, does she go against her Sergeant’s command of not arresting possible for others to be injured? The difficulty that face police officers on patrol is the question of priorities. They must have the capability to balance responsibilities that are in conflict and to allocate precedence to various types of violations. In this scenario, Linda has to manage her time effectively and decide which one of the violations deserves her priority.
Linda would be correct in releasing the suspect in order to respond to the burglary in progress. The young man she suspects is a drug deal lookout is not posing a dangerous threat. He has complied with her request without difficulty and he is not armed. However, the officer cannot identify him; therefore, she cannot know whether or not that he is a menace to society. In lieu of putting together an absolute set of principles that have to be recognized and followed all of the time no matter what the circumstances may be, utilitarianism proposes that ethics are circumstantial (Perez & Moore, 2013).
Her sergeant, under pressure from the prosecutor’s office, understandably would want to target suspects that are malicious and a danger to citizens. This is clearly a situational ethical dilemma for Linda as well as for her sergeant since she has to decide either to release the young man that has illegal drugs in his possession or to respond to a crime that could possibly be more serious. The burglary in progress needing back up may be a precarious situation because the suspect or suspects may be armed.
Officers often must make decisions that are not popular and at times result in consequences that can harm other individuals. Linda cannot know for sure if the young man is indeed a dangerous criminal since she cannot positively identify him. She has to make the choice whether to assist her fellow officers that may be in danger or to arrest an unarmed suspect that has not imposed a threat to her. Linda should release the suspect and let the dispatcher know that she is available to assist. References: Savage, D. S. (2011, August 11). Mandatory minimums to end for many drug offenders.