Centuries ago, Giovanni Machaeivelli wrote that power tends to corrupt. In the 1970s, the Stanford Prison Experiment demonstrated that with certainty.
Recommendation by C J Oakes
Yet, despite knowing that power can have a corrupting influence on even the best of people there continues to be problems with corruption in Criminal Justice. Prisons are rife with corrupt correctional officers, police departments make headlines daily because of abusive practices, prosecutors withhold exculpatory evidence in order to win their case, and judges are known to accept bribes. It seems that at every level of the Criminal Justice and legal system, someone is on the take or in other ways abusing their power.
Why You Should Read “The Investigator’s Guide to Ethics” by Michael Bret Hood
Anyone planning to enter the criminal justice or legal fields will eventually face corruption. When a person is in school, there is a tendency to see the system as in need of change, but the extent to which corruption is present is not clearly understood. How could it?
When a person is a student, the information presented is academic. Sure, an instructor may have real-world experiences to share, but it will still lack the pressures of being there. Have you seen Serpico? that powerful movie which helped put Al Pacino on the Hollywood map?
The movie attempts to show how much pressure the police detective Frank Serpico faced from the late 1950s to the early 1970s to accept bribes. He resisted and was blacklisted by the NYPD. his story went to the press and eventually, changes were made. That is why we no longer hear of corrupt police in New York City.
Oh? That’s not correct?
You say we continue to hear of corruption in the NYPD?
Sadly, for all of Frank Serpico’s efforts and sacrifices (he was shot in the face AND had to give up a career he loved), little was really accomplished. THAT is real-world.
NYPD Detective Frank Serpico testifies about corruption. c 1971.
That is the kind of situation that students entering the field will experience. Knowing corruption is real on a mental level is one thing, seeing it first-hand is another.
Michael Bret Hood, CFE, MBA does a masterful job of bringing real-world understanding to the subject of ethics as it presents to criminal investigations. Whether you are considering a career in law enforcement or any other branch of the criminal justice system, I strongly recommend reading his articles on LinkedIn and following him.
Join the Discussion in Our Forum: How Widespread is Official Misconduct and Corruption?
Part of the reason there is a strong push in America and most of the other Western nations for criminal justice graduates is because most in charge of these organizations want to see corruption ended. If they could, with the wave of a hand, eliminate all the corrupt members of their organizations and replace them with fresh minds ready to embrace ethics, most would. But that is not practical, so the corruption must be weeded out slowly. This makes doing so more difficult, but not impossible.
Thanks to folks like Mr. Hood, the fight is being kept on high ground. Read The Investigators Guide to Ethics Part 3 here.