Ethical Dilemma: Morality, Ethics, and Human Behavior
You are a correctional officer working the late-night shift. Your sergeant and another officer from the day shift come onto the tier where you are working and ask you to open an inmate’s cell. After you do so, they enter the cell. Then you hear a series of grunts, cries, and moans. They leave, muttering about how the inmate has been taught a lesson. You believe that you have been a party to an assault, but you say nothing. The next night you find out that the inmate did not report the incident, nor did any other inmate. You believe that if you come forward and report what you saw, you will be severely ostracized. You may not be believed (especially if the inmate doesn’t back you up), You might even lose your job. What would you do?
If I were a correctional officer in this situation, I would first try to talk to the inmate who was assaulted. I would ask them if they were okay and if they wanted to report the incident. If they did not want to report the incident, I would respect their wishes. However, I would still feel obligated to report what I saw to my supervisor.
I know that reporting the incident could have serious consequences for me. I could be ostracized by my colleagues, I might not be believed, and I could even lose my job. However, I believe that it is important to report any suspected abuse or misconduct, even if it is difficult.