Why do people act unethically? One of the reasons why some people are perceived to have acted unethically is cultural differences. Since people from different cultures have different beliefs and values, they also differ in their standards of morality or in their perception of what is right and wrong. It has been established that an action could be morally wrong in one culture but acceptable if not actually hailed as morally right in another culture. Simply put, one man could have acted unethically in the eyes of others because he was not aware that what he did was wrong under their code of ethics.
For instance, “clitoridectomy,” or the ritualistic act of mutilating the sexual organ of young girls to maintain the chastity of women before they get married, had been commonly practiced before in several African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries. In the western world, however, this practice is considered abominable, brutal, grossly inhuman, hazardous to health, and totally immoral. The man who behaves unethically under this situation is not hopeless, though. One only needs to explain things to him and chances are he will act accordingly the next time around. Man also acts unethically if despite knowing what is right, he deliberately does what he perfectly knows to be wrong – this kind is fundamentally malevolent perhaps because of his psychological make up. This one needs professional help before he could be made to see what is right and wrong. Finally, man is forced to act unethically because he does not possess the strength to behave morally. In other words, this kind of person has a weak character, therefore cannot resist the temptation of behaving unethically. Take a man who smokes heavily – the reason he smokes even though he knows that it endangers his health is because he is weak of character. Observe him in a crowded room. He knows that smoking in a room filled with people – especially people who do not smoke - is very unethical. However, since his character is weak, he smokes anyway.
What is the social responsibility of criminal justice agencies and individuals employed within the system? The primary responsibility of the criminal justice agencies as well as the individuals they employ is to ensure that fairness is observed in all aspects of their work. The dispensers of justice such as the police, the members of the judiciary, and even the practicing lawyers who are involved in the country’s judicial system are required to see to it that every American is afforded fair treatment before the eyes of the law.
In the case of police officers, fairness means conducting arrests and seizures according to the provisions of the law. For instance, police officers should only arrest people with the proper arrest warrants except in exceptional cases where they witness the actual commission of the crime or during hot pursuit operations involving known criminal elements. Fairness could also mean ensuring that they are armed with the proper search warrants before searching people’s homes except also under certain circumstances allowed by law such as situations involving the “open-fields doctrine,” the doctrine of “inadvertent discovery,” and others. In the case of the judges, on the other hand, fairness could be interpreted as giving people from all walks of life and from all ethnicities equal opportunities to prove their innocence. In other words, a poor man should be entitled to his day in court much as a rich man has a right to be heard. It also entails utilizing all applicable laws in the sentencing of people accused of crimes to ensure that no innocent persons are placed behind bars. The administrators of the country’s penal system, meanwhile, could exhibit fairness by subjecting every prisoner to equitable treatment and by respecting their human rights. Prisoners, even as they are being punished for the crimes that they have committed against society, have not been stripped of their human rights. Finally, the practicing lawyers should defend the rights of their clients honestly and vigorously because under the U.S. justice system, a man is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Fairness within this perspective also means that even if lawyers are convinced that an accused is guilty of the crime, he still deserves a lawyer.