Ethical Decision-Making in Criminal Justice in the Essay

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Ethical Decision-Making in Criminal Justice

In the study and practice of criminal justice, determining ethical decision-making is a very challenging, if not impossible, undertaking for individuals committed to uphold the principles of justice, particularly social justice. The concept of ethical decision-making begs the question, "what is ethics, and what behavior and decisions would be considered ethical or not ethical?" In discussing the issue of ethics in criminal justice, author Banks (2008) presented numerous perspectives and arguments that represent a facet of ethical decision-making. However, she asserted that among these perspectives, ethical pluralism "seems to offer the best hope for resolving problems of relativities" (p. 16). In ethical pluralism, one accepts that there exist multiple truths, recognizing that these truths may or may not be true; ultimately, the individual who subsists to ethical pluralism is open to the idea that a belief or school of thought can be true even if at the moment, there is no proof of it being true. This trait of "openness" means that "[w]e can be open and tolerant to other points-of-view while still believing that some are better than others, even while we believe that only one is correct" (p. 10).

Indeed, the ethics of decision-making is a challenge to practitioners and readers of criminal justice, most particularly among lawyers.
One of the issues that has confronted criminal justice for so long is the debate on a lawyer's conduct of his/her profession: should s/he seek fairness in terms of legal procedure more than seeking social justice as a "moral imperative"? This question is especially critical when lawyers are confronted with high profile cases, wherein the defendants are accused of committing large-scale criminal acts, such as terrorism.

From the onset, answering the question of preference between fairness in legal procedure and seeking social justice is challenging and difficult because this choice by itself is value-laden. Ultimately, the decision of the individual will depend on his/her moral imperative, and again, this is based on individual decision and choices. It….....

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