The published codes of ethics for different professions try to make it clear that "professional" in that occupation will not misuse that power, and especially that the use will not be made for personal gain. Of course, in totality, the codes of ethics should provide guidance about the values to be upheld in the profession, specific ethical principles and specific standards. (Professional code of Ethics)
Since there is a wide variation in codes for different professions, it is required that codes from some professions be looked at to decide the ethical standards of a profession. However, studying ethical codes does not mean that the individual will be following the codes and behaving in an ethical manner. This is mentioned clearly in the code for National Association of Social Work as "a code of ethics cannot resolve all ethical issues or disputes or capture the richness and complexity involved in striving to make responsible choices within a moral community. Rather, a code of ethics sets forth values, ethical principles, and ethical standards to which professionals aspire and by which their actions can be judged." (Professional code of Ethics) Similarly, the American Psychological Association says "The development of a dynamic set of ethical standards for a psychologist's work-related conduct requires a personal commitment to a lifelong effort to act ethically; to encourage ethical behavior by students, supervisees, employees, and colleagues, as appropriate; and to consult with others, as needed, concerning ethical problems." (Professional code of Ethics)
In general, ethical principles are the foundation that form the basis for deciding that an individual has not lived up to the ethics of the profession. Practically all ethical codes have a general ethical principle against non-exploitation, and this is made clear in the ethical codes of the Psychologists Association which state clearly that therapists should not enter into sexual relationships with former therapy patients for a period of two years after the end of treatment, and that also should be only under a specific set of situations. There is a proposed code for American Society of Criminology and that says "Ethical standards are not simply determined by whether an action is legally actionable; behavior that is technically legal may still be unethical." (Professional code of Ethics) This makes it clear that ethics are probably stronger obligations or more rigid performance standards than the requirements that have been specified as per law.
Moral questions in criminal justice
The field of criminal justice is now close to become a field in which there is now almost agreement about all matters of right and wrong. Thus one can say that a situation has now come where practically all concerned with criminal justice are now in almost total agreement about the profession and the course that it will follow. There are also claims from different quarters that criminal justice has a base that all citizens of the country feel obligated to follow the rules and are not always forced to follow the rules. This is due to the feeling of obligation that comes to the people from being the rules of criminal justice being viewed as essential for the society to grow and develop. The force behind the obligation is due to public trust that stands behind criminal law, and there is not much of external power that makes people obliged to follow the law. Yet, in the concept of humans, law is not the same as morality, and even the concept of morality varies to a large extent from one person to another. There are very few individuals who have gone through courses in morality to learn what it is, but the knowledge comes from the behavior of their parents, the society around them and their experiences with life. Since law is not the same as morality there are disagreements, diversity and ethical plurality among the individuals in any society, and that is probably the flavor of life. After all if one knew how another person would react to any given situation, then he would have no surprises, or learning to go through. Any criminal system has to incorporate all the elements of thinking within the country, and that is the reason why the laws of different countries vary, even though they may have the same cultural origin. There are no systems that can be imposed on a country and all the systems have to be accepted by the people. Thus one has to agree that there are different demands for different laws within a country from the different groups. This is a challenge to all individuals within the criminal justice system. (An Overview of Morality and ethical systems)
As an example let us take a simple question of the laws concerning carrying arms. In England the laws are substantially different from the laws in United States, and there are also different laws in Canada. There are no rights and wrongs about the whole issue, and the laws have been framed by the people of the country who felt that they required a certain set of laws. This has happened in spite of the fact that the populations of the three countries are all originating in the main from England. The differences of criminal laws have come due to differences in living conditions in the society at certain stages and the population patterns. Another reason is probably the feelings of the people in morality, and one can see this difference in matters of other issues like religion, acceptance of behavior within the society, etc. Thus the issues of morality, so far as the formation of laws are concerned are not static, but keep shifting and the shift depends on the shift of minds of people. Knowledge changes with time and with that change the concepts of laws. There are now a large number of laws regarding software which did not exist even twenty years ago. While one accepts that most of those laws concern the business and other purposes, yet they also require a moral understanding. Are their clear cut understandings of morality in that regard? There is a lot of recording of music on the Internet. Is that ethically or morally correct?
At the same time, any authority tries to make sure that it is obeyed and this is not always because they feel that they have a moral obligation to follow the rules. Most of them obey rules as they feel it is their obligation to society. Whenever there is talk of one particular law, it is thought to be useful by every citizen as the citizen finds out an item that is being protected for him by that law. (An Overview of Morality and ethical systems) It is not really that the protection lasts indefinitely; there are various ways in which the experts on law can get around the protection. This we shall see in the next section. Again in terms of punishment, there are punishments that are decided by law, and the punishments also should be acceptable to all citizens. That does not happen as we can see the award of punishment by authorities change with time. This brings up the obvious question as to whether morality or ethicality changes with time. Thus even making criminal justice as the final decider of punishment is also a challenge to the system.
There is also a requirement of social justice from criminal justice. Yet the capacities of criminal justice limit it to the society that it protects. If there is injustice within a society then criminal justice cannot do anything much. But if there is a lot of social and economic injustice then the job of criminal justice will be nothing much more than a system which is trying to clean up the system but it cannot rectify the defects that are coming out of the social injustice. (An Overview of Morality and ethical systems) An example of this can be seen in England now where there are a lot of incidents of bomb explosions from a minority group. In spite of being in Britain for long periods, that group obviously do not identify themselves with the rest of the other members of the society. This is happening because of the social system which does not give them the position they feel they deserve, and thus they do not feel any remorse for their actions, and continue doing it. After all there has been a tradition of the 'whites' feeling that they are superior to 'blacks'. This is built up in the minds and the difference that is caused is not easy to remove. The concept of justice is giving all persons a fair and moral treatment. (Justice) In other words this is a continuous effort to do what is viewed as correct, and this feeling of correct has to be determined through a process that takes into account the feelings of all members of the society and not the judgment of the majority…