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Criminal Justice Ethics

Criminal Justice Ethics
Theory and Practice

Fifth Edition
Experience with SAGE edge

January 2019 | 456 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Criminal Justice Ethics examines the criminal justice system through an ethical lens by identifying ethical issues in practice and theory, exploring ethical dilemmas, and offering suggestions for resolving ethical issues and dilemmas faced by criminal justice professionals. Bestselling author Cyndi Banks draws readers into a unique discussion of ethical issues by first exploring moral dilemmas faced by professionals in the criminal justice system and then examining the major theoretical foundations of ethics. This distinct and unique organization allows students to understand real-life ethical issues before grappling with philosophical approaches to the resolution of these issues. The Fifth Edition includes updated discussions around ethical issues in policing, corrections, the changing technological environment and its influence on courtrooms, mass imprisonment, and the ethical implications of current criminal justice policies.

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Chapter 1: The Importance of Ethics in Criminal Justice
The Meaning of Ethics  
The Value of Ethics  
Normative Ethics  
Ethical Relativism  
Cultural Relativism  
Ethical Absolutism  
Ethical Pluralism  
Religion and Ethical Standards  
Ethics and Natural Law  
Ethics and Law  
Ethical Dilemmas  
Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice  
Chapter 2: Police Ethics: The Nature of Policing and Police Corruption
Ethics and Policing  
The Nature of Policing  
Police as an Institution  
Police Culture  
Police Discretion  
Ethics and Codes of Ethics  
Policing and Stress  
Police “Militarization”  
Police Corruption  
Discrimination as a Corrupt Practice in Policing: Racial Bias, Racial Profiling, and Selective Law Enforcement  
Chapter 3: Police Ethics: Use of Force, Investigations, Interrogations, and Lying  
Police Use of Force  
Policing, Mental Illness, and Crisis Intervention Teams (CITs)  
Ethical Issues in Investigation, Interrogation, and Custody  
Chapter 4: Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System
Ethical Background  
Historical Context  
Is There Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System?  
Imprisonment Disparities  
Hate Crimes  
Explanations for Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System  
Chapter 5: Judges, Lawyers, and Ethics
Legal Ethics: Historical Context  
The Nature of Professional Ethics  
Defense Lawyers  
The Prosecutor  
Judicial Ethics  
Chapter 6: The Purpose of Criminal Punishment
What Is Punishment?  
Theoretical Approaches to Punishment  
Why Punish? The Philosophical Approach  
Restorative Justice  
Why Punish? The Sociological Approach  
Chapter 7: Ethics in Corrections: The Nature of Corrections
The Prison Explosion  
The Prison Explosion: Time Line of Events  
Maximum Security  
Medium Security and Minimum Security  
Stateville Prison: The Changing State of Corrections  
Corrections Subculture  
Power and Authority in Prison: Controlling the Inmates  
Private Prisons  
Disenfranchising Inmates  
Chapter 8: Ethics in Corrections: Guarding Ethically
The Experience of Guarding  
Guarding Ethically  
Guarding With Discretion  
Unethical Situations  
Rape in Prison  
Whistle-Blowing in Corrections  
Ethical Issues in Probation and Parole  
Chapter 9: The Ethics of Criminal Justice Policy Making
The Ethics of Policy Making  
Morality Policy  
Public Opinion About Punishment  
Mandatory Minimum Sentencing  
The War on Drugs  
Truth in Sentencing  
Predators and Superpredators  
Capital Punishment  
Chapter 10: Ethics and the “War on Terrorism”
Defining Terrorism  
Warfare or Crime Control?  
The Morality of Targeted Killing  
Chapter 11: Media Ethics and Criminal Justice
Media Constructions of Crime  
Reporting the Truth  
Avoiding Bias  
Avoiding Harm  
Serving the Public  
Maintaining Trust  
Chapter 12: Duty and Principle
Hypothetical and Categorical Imperatives  
Conflicting Duties  
Applying Deontological Theory  
Chapter 13: Considering the Consequences
Pleasure and Happiness  
Act Consequentialism  
Rule Consequentialism  
Public Policy and Utilitarianism  
Arguments Criticizing Utilitarianism  
Applying Utilitarian Theory  
Chapter 14: The Importance of Character
Aristotle and Happiness  
The Golden Mean  
Practical Wisdom  
What’s Wrong With Virtue  
Applying Virtue Theory  
Chapter 15: Egoism, Pleasure, and Indifference
Ethical Egoism  
Applying the Theory of Ethical Egoism  
Chapter 16: A Sense of Justice
Application of the Principles  
Justice as Fairness  
Moral Development  
Applying Rawlsian Theory  
Chapter 17: Caring for Others
Kohlberg and Gilligan  
A Theory of Moral Development  
“In a Different Voice”: Carol Gilligan  
Gender and the Ethic of Care  
The Ethic of Care and Justice  
Applying the Ethic of Care  


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  • chapter-specific discussion questions that help launch classroom interaction by prompting students to engage with the material and by reinforcing important content; and
  • lively and stimulating chapter activities that can be used in class to reinforce active learning (the activities apply to individual or group projects).

Criminal Justice Ethics is a well-written and thorough book. I also think it is topical and up-to-date.”

Ross Allen
Rutgers University-Camden

Criminal Justice Ethics is an excellent text that provides the necessary tools for effective learning to the next generation of leaders.”

David Baker
Texas Southern University

Criminal Justice Ethics is the cleanest, clearest text on ethics for undergraduates in criminal justice. It is possible to deliver a complete undergrad ethical course using the text alone; chapter-by-chapter progress works nicely for students. Well-written, logical, and thoughtful, with solid web support for students.”

Nancy Dickinson
Georgia State University

“A thorough and easy read that provides an overview of ethical dilemmas in the criminal justice system.”

Mercedes Valadez
California State University, Sacramento
Key features


  • A new section exploring the controversial issue of the criminalization of immigration—“crimmigration”—illuminates the ethical implications of current policies and encourages classroom discussion and critical analysis of the changes in immigration policy and practice.
  • Updated sections on ethical issues in policing include political action on police use of force, police militarization, body cameras, stop and frisk, and the ethics of using informants.
  • Enhanced discussions of courts reflect the changing technological environment and feature new material on the use of social media for judges.
  • Updated sections on corrections feature current ethical issues, including correctional officer subculture, private probation and the poor, the right to privacy, the treatment of opioid abuse in correctional institutions, and more.
  • New policies are evaluated for ethical issues in relation to mass incarceration, such as the new “Jim Crow,” race and crime control policies, and internet sexual solicitation.
  • New case studies examine real-world ethical issues and illustrate ethical principles in action. Relevant discussions of critical topics include the prosecution of hate crimes against transgender individuals, private prisons, media responses to sexting, and more.
  • Greater overall textual coherence through cross references and subheadings offer more accessibility for students to better identify the focus of the content.
  • Updated statistics and data reflect new research and scholarly thinking in the field.


  • A unique focus on the interactions of ethics within the criminal justice system in Part I lays out the foundation for students’ understanding of ethical theories and perspectives presented in Part II.
  • Contemporary case studies throughout the book illustrate ethical issues and theories in applied terms.
  • A code of ethics for various roles in the criminal justice system (i.e. police, correctional officers, et al.) is presented to show students expected standards of behavior in various fields.

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ISBN: 9781544353593