1. What is the ethical issue or problem? Identify the issue succinctly. The probation officer has to generate a presentence investigation report for the husband’s trial. The probation officer has to keep in consideration that this last DUI would be the husband’s third conviction, the only one being after his military service. The standard sentence for a third time offense usually begins at a minimum of 90 days in custody. The husband, however, has a record diagnosing him with post-traumatic stress disorder (developed after serving in Somalia) where confinement can trigger regression, explosive outbursts, and traumatic flashbacks. What should the probation officer recommend? 2. What are the most important facts? Which facts have the most bearing on the ethical decision presented? Include any important potential economic, social, or political pressures, and exclude inconsequential facts. This is the husband’s third DUI offense.
Due to the husband’s military service in Somalia, and his imprisonment by the enemy soldier, he now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has regressed to the level of a 10-year-old. As per his psychiatrists, any type of confinement could worsen his regression, triggering explosive outbursts and traumatic flashbacks. The standard sentencing (since he’s a third time offender) usually begins at a minimum of 90 days in custody. His prior convictions happened before his military service and he served a total of 60 days in custody, without incidents. 3. Identify each claimant (key actor) who has an interest in the outcome of this ethical issue. From the perspective of the moral agent—the individual contemplating an ethical course of action—what obligation is owed to the claimant? Why? Claimant
Obligation (owed to the claimant)
Perspective (What does the claimant hope will happen?)
Beneficence, protection, service
The probation officer would strongly recommend for the husband be placed under house arrest and attend intensive therapy and rehabilitation, rather than being incarcerated or institutionalized. Husband
The husband would prefer to pay a fine, if any, and be penalized in any way other than confinement. Judge
The judge would prefer to help the mental condition of the husband, as well as keep the order in any jails and/or correctional facilities. Psychiatrist
The psychiatrists would prefer to attend to the husband’s mental condition through intense therapy and rehabilitation, and avoid confinement at all cost. Society
Justice, peace and order
Society would prefer any type of rehabilitative therapy for the husband, a military veteran, and not incarceration.
4. What are two alternatives for the scenario? One alternative can be a wild card that you ordinarily may not consider an option because of potential implications. Both should be within free will and control of the same moral agent. Alternative A
The probation officer strongly recommends rehabilitative therapy and psychotherapy in place of any incarceration time. The probation officer generates the PSI report following protocol of recommending the standard mandatory minimum of 90 days in jail for being the husband’s third conviction. 5. Respond to the following questions based on your developed alternatives.
What are the best- and worst-case scenarios if you choose this alternative? Best: The husband shows improvement through different types of therapy and overcomes alcoholism. Worst: Therapy is useless for the husband and his alcohol dependency worsens. Best: Standard procedures are followed. Husband has no outburst or violent flashbacks. Worst: Husband has a violent outburst hrs within incarceration, has to be placed in solitary confinement, mental state deteriorates. Will anyone be harmed if this alternative is chosen? If so, how will they be harmed? Consider families and derivative effects. The husband will be hurt if the therapies recommended do not work as expected. His mental condition and alcohol dependency may worsen if the issue is not approached properly.
The husband’s mental, emotional, and maybe even physical state will worsen will incarceration, since his violent outburst and flashbacks will be reoccurring. Would honoring an idea or value—such as personal, professional, or religious—make the alternative invalid? Prioritizing the mental health and wellbeing of a military veteran with service related issues, such as PTSD makes the alternative invalid. Following the standard sentencing for a third time offender would make the alternative invalid. Are there any rules, laws, or principles that support the alternative? Are there rules, laws, or principles that make the alternative invalid? State the rule or principle and indicate if it invalidates or supports the alternative. 3455. Idiocy as a Defense
You may not find the defendant guilty of if (he/she) was legally incapable of committing a crime because of idiocy. The defendant was legally incapable of committing a crime because of idiocy if at the time the crime was committed: 1. (he/she) had a mental disease or defect;
2. Because of that disease or defect, (he/she) did not know or understand the nature and quality of (his/her) act or did not know or understand that (his/her) act was morally or legally wrong.
V C Section 23546 Penalty Third Conviction Within Ten Years 23546. (a) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 and the offense occurred within 10 years of two separate violations of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, 23152, or 23153, or any combination thereof, that resulted in convictions, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 120 days nor more than one year and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000). The person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles as required in paragraph (5) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352. The court shall require the person to surrender his or her driver’s license to the court in accordance with Section 13550
Applying Ethical Guidelines
6. Consider each ethical guideline and explain whether it would support or reject your alternative. Guidelines based on the action itself
Should this alternative become a rule or policy that everyone in this situation should follow in similar situations in the future? (Kant) Yes
Does this alternative result in using any person as a means to an end without consideration for his or her basic integrity? (Kant) No
Is the intent of this action free from vested interest or ulterior motive? (Kant’s good will) Yes
Does this alternative demonstrate a genuine concern for others affected by the decision, and is the moral agency responding to a perceived need? Yes: concern for others and responding to a perceived need are implicated No
Guidelines based on consequences
Is the good that results from this alternative outweighed by the potential harm that might be done to others? (Mill’s harm principle) Possibly
Is any harm brought about by anyone other than the moral agent? (causal harm) No
Yes, the husband and the implicated correctional facility
Will anyone be harmed who can be said to be defenseless? (paternalism) No
Yes, the husband in a regressed mental state of a 10 year old To what degree is this alternative based on the moral agent’s own best interest? (ethical egoism) Not based on the parole officer’s own interest. It is based on the best interest of the husband. Not based on the parole officer’s own interest. It is based on the best interest of the husband. Which alternative will generate the greatest benefit—or the least amount of harm—for the greatest number of people? Select only one alternative. (utilitarianism) Alterative A will generate the greatest benefit.
Ethical Decision Making
7. Choose to proceed with either Alternative A or Alternative B and explain the reasons for your decision. I recommend that on the parole officer’s presentencing investigation report strongly recommend an alternative type of punitive action against the husband, in lieu of incarceration. He should take in consideration not only the welfare and mental health of the husband, but the order in the corresponding correctional facility. The parole officer should note that incarceration will not only greatly deteriorate the husband’s mental, emotional, and even physical health, but it will also create altercations and physical confrontations in jail. The parole officer should push for some type of intensive rehabilitative therapy, as well as psychotherapy, and any other type of therapy the husband may need in order to treat his mental condition as well as to address his alcohol dependency. If necessary, applying a fine and/or house arrest in order to pay for the offense. The parole officer should put the health and well being of the husband first.