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Accountability and Dignity: Ethical Issues in Forensic and Correctional Practice

NCJ Number
Aggression and Violent Behavior Volume: 14 Issue: 4 Dated: July/August 2009 Pages: 227-231
Tony Ward; Astrid Birgden
Date Published
July 2009
5 pages
This introduction to the special issue on "Ethical Issues in Forensic and Correctional Psychology" provides an appropriate theoretical framework for an investigation of the ethical concerns in the forensic and correctional practice domains.
The article first outlines an ethical framework that is intended to help practitioners reflect systematically on their practice (Ward and Syversen, 2009). The Ward and Syversen ethical framework is a stepwise one, with the concept of human dignity at the center, alongside ethical resources such as human rights, normative theories, and punishment. At the next level are the normative principles typically found in ethnical codes, such as beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice. This leads to the next level, which involves specific standards or rules found in ethical codes, laws, or institutional procedures. The final and most concrete level of analysis is that of individual judgments made by practitioners in correctional and forensic domains in practice. After outlining this ethical framework, the article examines the relationship between two normative frameworks evident within the criminal justice system, i.e., punishment and rehabilitation. The notable feature of the Ward and Syversen ethical framework is based upon the concept of dignity and its protection by higher level moral norms such as human rights and the principles of well-being. It insists that both the administration of punishment and treatment with offenders are delivered in a way that illustrates respect for the moral equality of offenders, victims, and the rest of the community. The article concludes with summaries of the articles in the issue. 1 figure and 10 references