complete worksheet

Corrections Scenario

Ethical Issue: Corrections

The husband eventually is convicted of driving while under the influence following a jury trial. It turns out to be his third conviction. A judge orders that a pre-sentence investigation report be prepared.

In the course of the investigation, the probation officer discovers that the husband served in the U.S. Military in Somalia. His military records indicate that while there, his duties involved collecting the dead and the injured to be taken to the hospital. In the course of this assignment, he was captured by enemy soldiers, and placed into a black metal box the size of a coffin where he remained for the better part of six weeks.

Medical and psychiatric records confirm that the husband suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and has regressed to the level of a 10-year-old because of his imprisonment in Somalia. In the opinion of his treating psychiatrists, any prolonged confinement, even for a few hours, could cause even further regression and could trigger explosive outbursts and traumatic flashbacks.

Although the sentencing range for this offense could fall anywhere between zero to 365 days in jail, the standard sentence for a third time offense usually begins at a minimum of 90 days in custody. His prior convictions occurred before his military service in Somalia, and he served a total of 60 days custody on those convictions without incident.

What should the probation officer recommend?

University of Phoenix Material

Ethical Dilemma Worksheet

Incident Review

  • What is the ethical issue or problem? Identify the issue succinctly.
  • What are the most important facts? Which facts have the most bearing on the ethical decision presented? Include any important potential economic, social, or political pressures, and exclude inconsequential facts.
  • Identify each claimant (key actor) who has an interest in the outcome of this ethical issue. From the perspective of the moral agent—the individual contemplating an ethical course of action—what obligation is owed to the claimant? Why?
  • What are two alternatives for the scenario? One alternative can be a wild card that you ordinarily may not consider an option because of potential implications. Both should be within free will and control of the same moral agent.
  • Respond to the following questions based on your developed alternatives.
  • Consider each ethical guideline and explain whether it would support or reject your alternative.
  • Choose to proceed with either Alternative A or Alternative B and explain the reasons for your decision.


(key actor)

Obligation (owed to the claimant)

Perspective (What does the claimant hope will happen?)

Evaluating Alternatives

Alternative A

Alternative B

Alternative A

Alternative B

What are the best- and worst-case scenarios if you choose this alternative?

Will anyone be harmed if this alternative is chosen? If so, how will they be harmed? Consider families and derivative effects.

Would honoring an idea or value—such as personal, professional, or religious—make the alternative invalid?

Are there any rules, laws, or principles that support the alternative? Are there rules, laws, or principles that make the alternative invalid? State the rule or principle and indicate if it invalidates or supports the alternative.

Applying Ethical Guidelines

Guidelines based on the action itself

Alternative A

Alternative B

Should this alternative become a rule or policy that everyone in this situation should follow in similar situations in the future? (Kant)

Does this alternative result in using any person as a means to an end without consideration for his or her basic integrity? (Kant)

Is the intent of this action free from vested interest or ulterior motive? (Kant’s good will)

Does this alternative demonstrate a genuine concern for others affected by the decision, and is the moral agency responding to a perceived need?

Guidelines based on consequences

Alternative A

Alternative B

Is the good that results from this alternative outweighed by the potential harm that might be done to others? (Mill’s harm principle)

Is any harm brought about by anyone other than the moral agent? (causal harm)

Will anyone be harmed who can be said to be defenseless? (paternalism)

To what degree is this alternative based on the moral agent’s own best interest? (ethical egoism)

Which alternative will generate the greatest benefit—or the least amount of harm—for the greatest number of people? Select only one alternative. (utilitarianism)

Ethical Decision Making

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