Respond to this post:
This week’s lesson is a really interesting and important one to address, at least in my opinion. There are many reasons why people behave unethically and do things that are against the rules. In the context of the criminal justice system, this can be seen in white collar crime and violent crimes, I suppose. But the root of the question, as I understand it is, why do people break the rules? Many factors can influence this; personal belief, personal gain, temper, etc. There are so many factors involved that it would be extremely hard to pinpoint exactly the reason why.
People with upper socioeconomic status (famous and rich?) can be seen or perceived as being able to get away with behaving a certain why due to their ability to “pay” their why out of trouble. “Higher class individuals engaged in greater unethical behavior” (Dubois, et al., 2015). Upper class society have a vast control over many aspects of society, including the political and government landscape, which can and usually affects what became legal or not. In other words, they can influence and define what is right and what is wrong, effectively making something ethical or not. Perhaps this is the reason they (upper class) are perceived to be more likely to behave unethical.
Arguably, the lower class has to do what it has to do to survive and this could play a role in their behaviors. This is not excusing this class for some behavior that would that would be considered unethical and criminal (or any other class for that matter), such as murder and other violent crimes. Many see the “war on drugs” to have been and be oppressive especially to the lower class. Another point of contention is the ability to afford counsel. Yes, the Constitution guarantees free representation but it does not guarantee the best representation. This is a bit off the subject of ethical and unethical behavior but it is also important to note that without consequences to behavior (good or bad), individuals will either continue to behave a certain way or not. IN the case of upper class folks that are well off financially, they can post bail immediately, for most crimes, and secure expensive lawyers. Not the case for lower class folks.
In his 2017 book, Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek talks about the “Circle of Safety” and it pretty much explains how human, being social as we are, tend to form allegiances within the group we belong to for several reasons but they main one, arguably is survival. Understanding and knowing that your teammates will have your back makes the team a better one by focusing on what is happening outside the team. I am a Marine Corps veteran and I can relate to this feeling or even this understanding. These feeling, to some degree, are true to any social environment or group. Reading the lesson this week, John Van Maanen details his study or research based on having gone through a police academy himself and then later on, coming back and observing where and how his old classmates had transformed. This transformation or stages, as he describes, is really no different than any other subculture in society. I even think it applies to the recruitment and admission to some criminal organizations or as I pointed out earlier, the military. Furthermore, we would have to define with particularity what the police subculture is, before we can attempt to answer the question on whether or not it plays a role in misconduct.
Additionally, many of behaviors deemed unethical may even be legal, such as the constitutional standards for use of force, which are based on objective reasonableness and the totality of the circumstances faced and perceived by an officer in a particular encounter. For example, the Supreme Court has unequivocally stated that there is not 20/20 hindsight when analyzing these encounters but even with this, may consider many police use of force unethical. This is not to say there are no misconduct or unethical behavior by police officers when applying force but it would be hard to make the argument that a subculture plays a big role in police misconduct.
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