Ethicaldilemma: Case Analysis
RichardCaruso and Steve Rigg served as correctional officers and acted aswhistleblowers to bring to an end a vicious cycle of violence andmistreatment of inmates at California`s Corcoran State Prison. Thecase as discussed by Drybaugh (2009) points to the application ofCooper`s ethical decision model as required of public officers byapplying a sequential and logical approach.
Inparticular, prison guards at the facility were involved inmistreating inmates in various ways including staging fights forentertainment purposes. These fights often involved members of rivalgangs who were set up to fight in the yard. Where the fightsescalated, the officers stopped them by shooting at the perpetratorsleading to unnecessary and unavoidable deaths and injuries. Suchactions are not only illegal but morally wrong from various ethicalmodels deontological ethics which requires one to commit to one’sduty (Mizzoni 2009)
Ascorrectional officers, Caruso and Rigg would have opted to shieldtheir colleagues and keep quiet and let the vice carry on. By doingso, they would have protected their peers from punishment and evenpreserve the public image of the California prisons facilities.Alternatively, they could have sought to disassociate with the viceand seek transfers or quit altogether. This would have served theirself interests. The other option is reporting the vice aswhistleblowers as they did.
Byacting as whistleblowers, the two men were serving the larger publicgood and sticking to their duty as correctional officers. Theiractions would lead to a few of their colleagues facing potentialpunishment as a consequence of their actions under consequentialismwhile the larger public and inmates at the facility would benefitmore (Mizzoni 2009) To the men, the gladiator fights staged forentertainment were doing more harm than good hence had to be stopped.
Asper Cooper’s ethical decision making model, the two were requiredto weigh the options. Keeping quiet and allowing the fights andmistreatment to go on would have violated their moral commitment totheir duty and probably their personal values as they would haveparticipated by actively or passively. On the other hand, reportingthe case would have saved the inmates from abuse. At the same time,it would have led to the two being ostracized by their colleagues oreven being victimized. Furthermore, there could exist legalprovisions to sue whistleblowers depending on set laws and even thewhistle blowing process used. The case of Edward Snowden who turnedwhistleblower by sharing classified information is one such currentexample.
Thedecision to report the abuse was arrived after carefulconsiderations. Cooper`s model requires one to weigh the outcomes ofall alternative actions. Reporting the abuse at Corcoran to therelevant authorities helped bring to an end the vice ad serve justiceto inmates as per their professional code of conduct and personalethical orientation.
Thusthe above case provides important learning lessons to all personsserving in the public service. There is need to think sequentiallyand logically as Cooper theorizes to address ethical dilemmas whenthey arise.
Drybaugh,M. M. (2009). Personal and policy implications of whistle-blowing:The case of
CorcoranState Prison. PublicIntegrity,11(2), 155–170.
Mizzoni,J. (2009). Ethics:The basic.New York: John Wiley & Sons.