The correctional subculture has various ethical questions pertaining to a correction officer and his duties. According to Thomson and Wadsworth (2005), when an officer makes the decision to reprimand or write a disciplinary report, he is playing a role in the Criminal Justice System (p. 316). A disciplinary committee also has a dilemma because he, or she must decide on what punishment should accrue towards the offender. This may be a temporary loss of privileges, or he may have his sentence increased (p. 316, para. 2). A correctional officer in uniform is an authority figure, which implies reasonable and rational control over the incarcerated. Moreover, he has the full range of coercive control over inmates; excessive force, loss of liberty, and his power may be defiant; taught through his subculture (other correctional officers’).
According to Thomson and Wadsworth (2005), many correctional officers have (deontological) exceptional knowledge and practice professionalism. While others tend to use (teleological) coercive, control against offenders gain advantage (pp. 317-318). A correctional officer must engage in ethical behavior. He must act professional; show respect for the incarcerated; be consistent; maintain integrity and honesty; and act impartial (p. 318).
The subculture of a correctional officer has similar aspects of police subculture. However, cover-ups and wrongdoing is apparent in both. According to Thomson and Wadsworth (2005), a correctional officer will travel to administer aid for another officer. Again, as police officers, correctional officers will not cooperate in an investigation if it pertains to a fellow officer (blue code). One would not embarrass another in front of an offender because this may jeopardize an officer’s effectiveness. A fellow officer does not indulge in a white hat. This pertains to showing emotions towards an inmate or his family. A main similarity between correctional and police officers is that both engage in solidarity, against all outside groups (pp. 320-321).
In conclusion, few officers endorse and publicize subcultural values, whereas the majorities, who are silent, privately believe in different values. In fact, his morals tend to make judgments on their own. This can be based on his religion; what is good or bad based on what is morally wrong, utilitarianism; a bad action turning into a good deed (a selfless act), natural law; universally acceptable and ethical formalism; the intent of good will. According to Thomson and Wadsworth (2005), correctional officers are faced with these dilemmas on a daily basis.
Moreover, the difference between morality and justice comes not from the difference between actions and consequences (as between morality and influence ethics) but from the difference between motives and actions (pp. 325-327). Therefore, when a C.O. does not practice morals and does not follow the ethical code; he may drift into relativistic egoism. He may believe he should receive benefits for his trouble, and he does not think of the latter consequences to his actions.
Axia College of University of Phoenix. (2005). Chapter 11: Ethics in Crime and Justice, Ethics for Correctional Professions. Retrieved October 6, 2008, fromAxia College, Week Eight reading AXcess, ADJ 235- Ethics and the Administration of Justice