Lecture Notes: In 2008, Jonathan Lutman—a two-year veteran of the Slidell (Louisiana) Police Department—was arrested and charged with nine counts of theft and four counts of malfeasance. On each of the nine occasions, Lutman’s thefts occurred while he was on duty, during legal traffic stops of Hispanic males. Allegedly, he would ask for their wallets, remove the cash, and then return the wallets (often without the victims knowing anything was missing). In all likelihood, Lutman singled out Hispanics as victims assuming that they would not report the thefts to police—assuming that, through careful selection of victims, he could get away with wrongdoing. Slidell Chief of Police Freddie Drennan commented, “He used his position to steal from these people. He used his position for personal gain” (p. 85). Morality demands maintaining integrity in both personal and professional realms. Yet morality is not simply about having the capacity for integrity; it is about exercising that capacity. An important question is: “ What motivates us to exercise (or fail to exercise) that capacity? ”
Lecture Notes: pp. 87-88 External Sanctions: From the Law and God Internal Sanctions: Conscience and Guilt
Lecture Notes: p. 89. Problems of conscience and guilt – rationalizing and strength is limited. guilt fails to function motivations for moral behavior is that their strength is limited.
Lecture Notes: Pp. 90-91. When the response to the question, “Why be moral?” mainly focuses on the possibility of negative consequences or securing a reward for ourselves, then we are indirectly citing self-interest as the reason for our actions. We should not do good because of an expectation of a reward; and we should not avoid evil deeds because of the expectation of punishment. Kant argues that motivations involving reward and punishment in fact demonstrate a lack of morality . Are rewards and punishments not only insufficient for morality, but may serve to prevent the development of morality?
Lecture Notes: P. 92. Necessary Belief One of the biggest limitations of relying on religion to answer questions of moral significance is that there is no morality unless one believes in God . Having certain kinds of religious belief is thus a necessary condition for morality. Common Ground A second important limitation of relying on religion as a source of morality is what is termed the problem of common ground . It is notable that religious reasoning often extends only to people who share in that reasoning. Independent Good P. 95. Socrates argued that God commands that which is good . There is a subtle but important logic to this: conduct is not right or good because God commands it; rather, God commands it because it is good. Murder, for instance, is not wrong because God commands that it is; rather, the wrongness of murder itself is what makes God command that it is so. In other words, murder is wrong because it is wrong .
Lecture Notes: Box 5.4. Do you consider the American flag a “sacred” object the same as religious symbols? How important is the American flag compared to other objects and symbols that you may hold to be “sacred”? Should desecration of the flag be protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution? If not, should burning of the flag be illegal? What about wearing a skirt made from the American flag? Wearing a T-shirt with a political message superimposed upon the flag? Flying the flag upside down? If desecration of the flag should be illegal, what punishment should be proscribed for various forms of flag desecration? In what, if any ways are these forms of flag “desecration” different?
Lecture Notes: Box 5.5 For: Within the Christian faith groups, passages from the Old Testament (a.k.a. Hebrew Scriptures or Judaic Bible) are common reference points for the justification of capital punishment on retributive grounds (e.g., an “eye for an eye”). Against : Most Christian denominations and groups—both Eastern and Western—oppose capital punishment and support its abolition. In fact, since the 1950s and 1960s, the Catholic Church as well as all major denominations of Protestantism—save the Southern Baptists—have officially aligned themselves against the death penalty.
Lecture Notes: P. 96. Excessive egoism can lead us to pursue personal gain at great expense to others—at times, directly and intentionally causing harm to others along the way. Michael Johnston defines police corruption as actions that exploit the powers of law enforcement in return for considerations of private, regarding benefit and that violate formal standards governing his or her conduct Prison Corruption. Existing and operating largely outside of the public’s view. Because of this, corruption in prisons is often unpublicized, and small-scale unethical practices are often not even reported; very little is known about it.
Lecture Notes: Pp. 96-97. Corruption of Authority. Accepting unearned rewards for doing one’s regular duties, including free meals, liquor, sex, discounts of various sorts from businesses, and payments from businesses to more closely monitor premises. • Kickbacks. Receiving goods or services for referring business to attorneys or bondmen. • Opportunistic Theft. Stealing money or property from suspects or victims, goods not taken by a burglar, evidence that has been confiscated (e.g., drugs or money from drug busts). • Shakedowns. Accepting money or other forms of payment for not making an arrest. • Protection of Illegal Activities. Accepting money from vice operators or companies operating illegally. • Fixes. Accepting money or other rewards/favors for overlooking traffic violations, quashing prosecution proceedings by, for instance, tampering with evidence or committing perjury. Direct Criminal Activities. Engaging directly in various forms of criminal activity, such as selling drugs, robbing stores, or burglarizing homes or businesses. • Internal Payoffs. Buying or selling employment-related benefits, such as off days, holidays, work assignment, evidence, or promotions.
Lecture Notes: p. 98 Theft. Stealing valuables and other personal items from inmates during frisks and cell searches; stealing items from visitors during processing; and stealing items from other staff members. • Trafficking. Conspiring with inmates and civilians to smuggle contraband into prisons in exchange for money, drugs, or other services. Common forms of contraband include much demanded and highly marketable items such as drugs, alcohol, and weapons. In some cases, guards act on their own, while others are of a much larger scale, involving street gangs and organized crime officials. • Embezzlement. Appropriating goods belonging to the state for one’s own use. Unlike petty acts of theft, embezzlement involves “employees, sometimes with the help of inmates, systematically stealing money or materials from state accounts (inmate canteens or employee credit unions) and from warehouses.” • Misuse of authority. Intentionally misusing one’s discretion for personal gain. Misuse of authority involves three basic offenses: (1) “the acceptance of gratuities from inmates for special consideration in obtaining legitimate prison privileges (e.g., payoffs to receive choice cells or job assignments),” (2) “the acceptance of gratuities for special consideration in obtaining or protecting illicit prison activities (e.g., allowing illegal drugs sales or gambling),” and (3) “the mistreatment or extortion of inmates by staff for personal material gain (e.g., threatening to punish or otherwise harm an inmate if a payment is not forthcoming).”
Lecture Notes: P. 99. Misfeasance is the “improper performance of an act that an official may lawfully do.” Included herein are practices such as the accepting of gratuities in exchange for special privileges, selectively offering formal rewards and punishments for a fee, and the misuse of state resources for personal gain. The handing out of privileges (e.g., assignment to desirable cell block), rewards and punishment, and use of state resources are lawful acts falling within the authority of prison employees. Misfeasance occurs where this lawful authority is used in an unethical fashion for furtherance of self-interest. • Whereas misfeasance involves the “improper use of legitimate power or authority,” malfeasance is “ direct misconduct or wrongful conduct by a public official or employee.” Malfeasance includes such corrupt acts as theft, embezzlement, trafficking in contraband, extortion, assisting escapes, and conspiring with inmates in forgery, drug, or counterfeiting rings. • In contrast to both misfeasance and malfeasance, nonfeasance does not involve the commission of unethical or unlawful acts. Instead, nonfeasance is the “ failure to act according to one’s responsibilities, or the omission of an act that an official ought to perform.” Nonfeasance may include not arresting, not reporting inmate violations (e.g., allowing inmates to have sex with visitors, looking the other way when drugs are smuggled into the prison), and may also include not reporting violations of other employees. Efforts to explain correctional corruption have focused on both and institutional factors.