The corruption scandal within correction facilities in Georgia has been an ongoing case for several years now. According to Cook (2017), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested current and former correction officers at nine institutions around Georgia. They were sentenced for using their uniforms and badges to smuggle contraband, for example, liquor, cell phones, and tobacco into the cellblocks in exchange for money. The prisoners used the illegal cell phones to execute wire fraud, identity theft, drug trafficking, and money laundering ("Further Corruption Involving Georgia Department of Corrections Guards Exposed", 2016). The officers were also indicted for utilizing their badges to ease drug deals on either side of the prison wall. The trafficking comprised numerous kilos of cocaine and methamphetamine in exchange for thousands of dollars in bribe money (Cook, 2017).
The scandal began in 2014 when arrests sprang from a probe into corruption at two state prisons in Gwinnett and Mitchell counties, where prisoners were conducting frauds using cell phones correctional officers had smuggled into them. The scandal escalated to involve approximately 130 correctional officers, non-incarcerated co-conspirators, and inmates at nine lockups around the state ("Further Corruption Involving Georgia Department of Corrections Guards Exposed", 2016). Further investigations by the FBI revealed a notable public corruption problem within 11 of the 35 Georgia Department of Corrections institutions (Cook, 2017). The prosecutors in the cases argued that all the guards involved knew exactly what they were getting into. Moreover, the evidence presented in court from a series of undercover operations showed that around 45 of the correctional officers were in uniform and their badges displayed ("Further Corruption Involving Georgia Department of Corrections Guards Exposed", 2016). They utilized their law enforcement status to guard drug deals in exchange for thousands in dollars in cash bribe payments. When the arrests were announced, U.S. Attorney John Horn said that it was upsetting that so many correctional officers from state correctional facilities across Georgia were willing to sell their badges for personal payoffs from professed drug dealers (Cook, 2017). These acts betrayed the facilities the officers swore to protect. Additionally, the officers betrayed the ideals that many honest, industrious correctional officers endorse every day.
According to Cook (2017), Georgia's correctional officers earn between $27,936 and $41,296 annually. Notably, this figure is sufficient evidence to show that officers supporting a family on such a salary make so little money that they fall below the federal poverty level or they qualify for Medicaid. However, while the convicted officers offered no single reason for what motivated them to team up with a prison gang, money was the primary cause of the problem. For example, one convict, Jeremy Fluellen, claimed that he required the money since his prison salary was not adequate to cover an unanticipated expense. He was convicted for two counts of attempted distribution of cocaine and two counts of extortion under the color of official right ("Further Corruption Involving Georgia Department of Corrections Guards Exposed", 2016). While a majority of the victims argued that they were not criminals, Clay Nix, the head of the criminal division of the Georgia Department of Corrections' internal affairs unit, claimed that greed motivated the officers into breaking the law (Cook, 2017).
Legal and Ethical Violations Committed
The convicts involved in Georgia's Department of Correction committed various legal and ethical violations. The primary legal and ethical violations consisted of drug trafficking, smuggling contraband to prisoners, and conspiring to commit wire, credit card fraud and money laundering. Others included protecting drug transactions and accepting bribe payments.
The officers were charged with trafficking cocaine and methamphetamine to prisoners. Additionally, they were indicted for using their badges to ease drug deals on either side of the prison wall. Similarly, the officers used their uniforms and badges to smuggle contraband, for example, liquor, cell phones, and tobacco into the cellblocks. This legal violation led to approximately 50 Georgia Department of Corrections employees, inmates, and non-incarcerated co-conspirator to be charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and credit card scams, criminal activities committed within Georgia state prisons. Additionally, the correctional officers violated their ethical obligations by protecting drug transactions and accepting thousands of dollars in bribe payments for their legal violations. These acts betrayed the facilities the officers swore to protect and the officers betrayed the ideals that many of honest, industrious correctional officers endorse every day ("Further Corruption Involving Georgia Department of Corrections Guards Exposed", 2016).
Souryal's Concept of Egoism
Sam S. Souryal elegantly discusses the relationship between criminal justice and ethics. He reminds people that criminal justice policy and practice are definitely dependent upon understanding, appreciation, and implementation of ethical philosophy and ethical behavior. Souryal gives a detailed illustration of lying and deception, racial discrimination, egoism, and abuse of authority and specifically relates these issues to the problems and roles in criminal justice. Souryal defines egoism as an exaggerated concern for self-love or one's administrative position (2014). Egoism in public service is acting irresponsibly to feed one's best interests. While all public officials can be accused of egoism, by virtue of their authority, egoism by criminal justice practitioners may appear more sinful (Souryal, 2014). Moreover, there is no other government system in the U.S., perhaps, in which so few who are so vulnerable to so much temptation hold so much power.
Mainly, while there are individual reasons for egotistical behavior at the workplace, for example, ignorance, greed, or jealousy, a classic pattern of egoism emerges when practitioners lose sight of the separation between what constitutes authority and what composes power. Egoism and the abuse of authority are alarming viruses that penetrate the administration of criminal justice. It debilitates the psychological defenses of practitioners, making them indifferent to unfair practices, and abuse of authority reinforces the administrator's sense of egoism (Souryal, 2014). Together, they form a poisonous character shortage that makes officials proud, greedy, and vain. The roots of this deficiency invade the unsuspecting agency, short-circuiting its ethical circuits and disabling the moral reasoning of its members.
According to Souryal (2014), the blindness of egoism is crucial to criminal justice, since it can destroy the doctrine of responsibility. Notably, public officials do not own the agencies they serve, and as such, their principal role is to carry out the agency's objectives. While public officials plainly should not be prevented from enjoying the benefits of their positions, such advantages, when justifiable, are only ancillary to performing their jobs.
Based on Souryal's argument, the correctional officers in the Georgia Department of Correction's scandal are a good case of egoism. Moreover, they acted irresponsibly to feed their self-love and their administrative position. For example, Fluellen claimed that he required the money since his prison salary was not adequate to cover an unanticipated expense. A classic pattern of egoism was evident when the officers lost sight of the separation between what constitutes authority and what composes power. For instance, the evidence presented in court from a series of undercover operations showed that approximately 45 of the correctional officers were in uniform and their badges displayed ("Further Corruption Involving Georgia Department of Corrections Guards Exposed", 2016). They utilized their law enforcement status to guard drug deals in exchange for thousands in dollars in cash bribe payments. In essence, they used their positions as law enforcement officers to evade arrests. Souryal (2014) added that officials become proud and vain making them indifferent to unfair practices. For example, in a questioning, Joshua Johnson, a 20-year-old guard at Macon State Prison, said that if the drug dealers asked him to shoot a man, he would provided they supplied the gun and told him who to shoot (Cook, 2017). Clearly, his response showed indifference to even murder.
As Souryal argued, the sense of egoism invades the unsuspecting agency, short-circuiting its ethical circuits and disabling the moral reasoning of its members (2014). Notably, this was evident in Georgia Department of Correction's scandal because approximately 130 correctional officers, non-incarcerated co-conspirators, and inmates were charged and sentenced to jail (Cook, 2017). Additionally, the violations were committed for many years, which indicated that this was the norm within the correctional facilities. The blindness of egoism destroyed the doctrine of responsibility among the correctional officers in the Georgia Department of Correction facilities. Instead of assisting the inmates to correct their behavior, they aided them in committing other criminal activities such as drug trafficking, fraud, and money laundering. They failed in their role to carry out the agency's goals.
Role of the Subculture of Correctional Officers in the Scandal
According to Theerathitiwong (2017), within the correction institutional environment, a commonality of experiences develops between those who are involved, which is true for both inmates and correctional officers. Notably, numerous people may be unaware that, in fact, the mind and the world of the inmate frequently influence the mindset of officers who work with the inmates. In particular, there is an exchange of perspectives and beliefs that often merge to produce a unique fusion between the two groups (Theerathitiwong, 2017). Mainly, this exchange of beliefs creates a unique subculture, which is the product of both inmate norms brought in from the outside and those taken from the prison to the outside community. Notably, the correctional officers are not immune to the influence of the profound social learning that happens, and, eventually, as they become more embedded in the prison social setting; they start to internalize the norms and beliefs held by the prison subculture.
The guard subculture is part of the overall prison subculture that also influences how correctional officers act or behave within the lockup facilities. According to Theerathitiwong (2017), the guard subculture is a product of a complex interaction of importation, socialization, deportation, and cultural evolution. Correctional officers have a unique and identifiable subculture that separates them from other professionals. The primary norms of this subculture dictate how they proceed with the daily performance of their duties. The subculture of correctional officers at Georgia's prisons that supports being friends with inmates, trafficking drugs and accepting bribes offered the guards a platform to participate in this violations. Clearly, the tenets of the corrections officers' subculture did not consider it justifiable to inform authorities of such violations. Additionally, the subculture had created permeable boundaries that allowed guards to be friends with inmates to a level that they worked together to commit the violations.
In summary, the corruption scandal at Georgia Department of Correction was a case of egoism where correctional officers violated the...
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