Importance of Ethical Leadership in Criminal Justice

Ethics is an important aspect of leadership in any field, but perhaps even more so in criminal justice. Criminal justice deals with many different people and situations, and the notion of right and wrong as it pertains to society is a crucial component. Ethical leadership in criminal justice is extremely important, and it is the responsibility of everyone in the field. Leaders in the field, however, hold a higher responsibility to demonstrate and teach ethics while seeking out ethical employees to ensure the most positive work environment possible.

Be Aware of Biases

In any job, no matter the field, there are instances of ethical issues. Within the criminal justice system, these can be quite large and glaring issues that receive much more attention than issues in other fields. For some — often law enforcement officers or lawyers — the problem is that the laws and procedures go against their personal beliefs. It can be difficult to keep personal biases out of the workplace in order to do a job properly. These differences can be hard to reconcile for some people.

Ethics From the Top Down

Ethical leadership in criminal justice is important for a number of reasons. First, the actions of leadership often trickle down through the ranks. It is crucial that all levels of leadership act according to the applicable laws and procedures in an ethical manner. Demonstrating this behavior at the top helps to ensure that every employee sees and understands the importance of ethics. Second, it is hard to enforce ethics in lower employee ranks if those at the top are not acting in the ethical manner they expect from their employees. Everyone must work in an ethical manner. When an entire organization follows ethical principles, it functions as a system of checks and balances between each level.

Ethics in the Community

Another important factor for ethical leadership in criminal justice is the community. Many different parts of the criminal justice system interact extensively with the public, especially law enforcement. When a law enforcement department is committed to acting ethically, the community is more inclined to interact with department members in the same manner. Citizens in the community are often more open and willing to work with law enforcement when they trust the actions and words of the department. This ethical behavior is based on the actions and examples set by those in leadership positions.

Ethics Courses Provide a Solid Foundation

One of the ways leadership and employees can gain a good understanding of ethics is by completing criminal justice courses, which address ethics in the criminal justice system. Ethics classes are an excellent place for students interested in the criminal justice field to start. These courses are also great refreshers for those already working in criminal justice, especially those in leadership positions. An ethics course can enhance on-the-job training as well.

The criminal justice system is vast and encompasses a wide variety of jobs and fields. Ethics is important in each field, and knowledge of ethics can be gained from basic criminal justice courses. From there, it is the job of every employee to understand and work within the ethical guidelines in their field. Ethical leadership in criminal justice is important because leaders should set an example for their employees while enforcing and adhering to the rules and laws they deal with on a daily basis.

Learn about the LSUA BS in criminal justice online program.


FBI: Developing Ethical Law Enforcement Leaders: A Plan of Action

Criminal Justice Research: Criminal Justice Ethics

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