As an attorney working in the Office of the Inspector General in the State Bureau of Prisons, I have been asked to evaluate two major issues involving various correctional officers at the state prison and the behavior of the lawyer assigned to represent them. These correctional officers have reported several incidences of assault by inmates, which has caused them physical harm. If these assault claims are proven to be true, the law automatically mandates an extra two years to the prison terms of these inmates. In order to determine the truth behind these allegations, I have conducted interviews and hearings on the claims. According to one of the prisoners, they were falsely charged and were subjected to previous hearings and interviews by the prison warden and the chief correctional officer. Despite of being aware of the practice and having no evidence, I suspect misconduct and abuse of suspects by the prison administration and correctional officers.
Ethical Issues and Probable Violation of the Legal Code:
This case provides an example of ethical dilemmas that attorneys experience when attempting to resolve issues between correctional officers, the prison administration and inmates. One of the major ethical issues at stake in this scenario is whether violation of human rights took place on the part of inmates or the prison administration or wardens. In essence, violation of human rights on the part of the inmates may have occurred if indeed these prisoners assaulted and caused physical harm on the correctional officers. Actually, one of the major disadvantages of being a correctional officer is constant exposure to the risk of being assaulted and/or wounded by inmates (Heibutzki, n.d.). This risk is attributed to the ability of inmates to convert common objects into unconventional weapons that can be used to attack and cause harm on these correctional officers.
The other ethical issue at stake in the scenario is whether the correctional officers are guilty of violation of human rights by using unobserved unethical means to treat the inmates. In this case, the officers could have abused the suspects and exhibited misconduct in their treatment of these inmates. The misconduct and abuse could have been the reasons for the false charges and the hearings and interviews conducted by the correctional officers and prison administration. The abuse or misconduct could have occurred in different forms including verbal abuse, threats, harassment, or use of force.
These ethical issues at stake in the allegations imply that there is an ethical violation of the legal code. According to federal and state laws in the United States, prisoners are protected from some acts of harassment and violence such as rapes, sexual assault, and attacks. One of the major responsibilities of correctional officers is to carry out their activities without impartial application of the law, prejudice, or discrimination ("Officer Requirements," n.d.). This process helps in protecting the human rights and other rights of inmates as guaranteed by the constitution and the ethical legal code. When correctional officers use unlawful methods in their treatment of prisoners, they not only violate inmates' human rights but they also violate the ethical legal code.
In my attempts to resolve the issue, I will decide the case based on suspect abuse and misconduct on the part of the prison administration and correctional officers. This decision is based on the fact that I am aware of the unlawful practice by the prison administration though without any evidence. The other reason showing suspect abuse and misconduct by these professionals is their decision to conduct initial interviews and hearings without involving an attorney. If the inmates really attacked the correctional officers and caused bodily harm, the prison administration should have taken necessary measures as provided by the law rather than the interviews carried out by the prison warden and chief correctional officer.
The Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution protect inmates from certain assaults such as suspect abuse and misconduct by correctional officers and prison administration. Therefore, the determination of this case will require proof on how inmates' rights under these Amendments have been violated ("A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual," 2009). Notably, the process first requires an understanding of these constitutional rights and their application to the inmates regardless of where they are incarcerated. Once proof of violation of these constitutional rights has been demonstrated, I'll make a federal constitutional law claim and a state law claim based on the specific state law where these inmates are imprisoned. In essence, I'll file a civil lawsuit against the correctional officers and prison administration. Filing a civil lawsuit is informed by the fact that only the government can bring criminal charges according to criminal law.
Correctional Officer Misconduct Memo:
Federal and state laws provide necessary steps to be taken by attorneys in case prison administration and correctional officers are guilty of misconduct and abuse on their treatment of inmates. Based on the facts of this case and extensive research, the next step to take if the warden and correctional officers are guilty of misconduct and indiscipline is to go to the warden's supervisors or an official in the State Bureau of Corrections.
According to provisions in Employee Professionalism, Ethics and Conduct manual, correctional officers are required to report to their supervisors regarding their duties during non-duty hours ("Employee Professionalism, Ethics and Conduct," 2011). Since the case involves negative law enforcement by the warden and correctional officers, contact with the warden's supervisor or official in the State Bureau of Corrections will be through submitting an Information Report.
These officials will be expected to instantly notify the Inspector General or the division's highest chain of command about their subordinates' actions. The notification will be followed by submission of a Significant Information Report that provides comprehensive information about the staffs' actions and law enforcement contact. The decision to go to the warden's supervisor or an official at the State Bureau of Corrections is based on the fact that these actions are linked to the operations of this department or correctional facility. Therefore, the issue will not be reported to the relevant local law enforcement agencies because they are not primarily centered on Department employees.
After receiving the Significant Information Report on staff arrest, the Administrative Investigative Unit is expected to receive police reports and start an administrative investigative process. While the investigative process will be based on provisions of Administrative Investigations and Employee Discipline, it will be geared towards identifying the appropriate measures for dealing with the indiscipline and misconduct of the warden and correctional officers. The determined measures will be based on the ethical legal code that governs the operations and conduct of prison administration and correctional officers ("Employee Professionalism, Ethics and Conduct," 2011).
In addition to the administrative investigative process, inmates who are victims of unlawful treatment by prison administration have legal remedies. The first remedy available to such prisoners is the use of the facility's Inmate Grievance Program to make complaints. Secondly, these inmates can file a Section 1983 if any of their constitutional rights were violated by the prison administration. Third, the inmates can file a state tort claim against correctional officers and prison warden. However, these remedies are only applicable and suitable if the inmates were victims of assault by the prison administration.
Correctional Officer Misconduct Case:
The lawyer retained to help the correctional officers in the correctional officer misconduct case has been charged with making unsuitable, disparaging, frivolous, and disrespectful comments about me and my legal team. The attorney accused my legal team of not only misrepresenting case facts but also interfering with case documents. Actually, other attorneys in my office have usually considered my colleague incompetent. In addition to previous complaints regarding his behavior and demeanor, he has a drinking problem and tends to neglect preparation of proper documentation for his cases.
The professional conduct of attorneys when dealing with cases is governed by the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which provides the direct foundation for significant ethic rules for lawyers in each state except California (Podgers, 2012). According to Model Rule 8.4, its professional misconduct for an attorney to breach professional conduct rules. Moreover, its professional misconduct for a lawyer to get involved in wrong actions based on substantive law or ethic rules. As evident in this situation, my colleague has been involved in gross misconduct by violating the rules of professional conduct to an extent that his credibility and competence in executing his duties has been questioned. The attorney's misconduct has contributed to disrespectful, frivolous, inappropriate, and disparaging remarks about me and my legal team.
One of the violations of professional conduct rules exhibited by my colleague is his tendency to neglect preparation of proper documentation for his cases. This suggests that the attorney not only acts unethically but is likely to misrepresent facts and tamper with case documents. Secondly, the lawyer's carelessness shows that he is unable to provide a case with the suitable amount of attention. Generally, lawyers are required to give maximum attention to cases despite being busy and…