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Criminal justice and prostitution

A consultant is riding with a patrol unit (two officers) in a mid-sized Midwestern city to observe the unit's operations. They observe a street corner on which three women who appear to be engaged in prostitution: the women are scantily clad and engaged in conversation with people in cars and passing pedestrians. The two patrol officers simply give a small wave to the women and keep driving.

The consultant is perplexed by this and asked why the officers did not stop and question or arrest them—to the consultant, it is clear that the women are prostitutes. "It's part of the arrangement," says the senior officer. "They have certain areas they are allowed to work in as long as they are not really bothering people or creating trouble and we leave them alone. Then when we have a major case go down, they agree to help us gather information on the 'who and where' of suspects. They self-police and keep their customers from being robbed. It's sort of a 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' policy that the new superintendent put in about two years ago."

The junior officer chimes in, "They also know that for publicity's sake we do a roundup of them about every six months and book them, but the cases never get processed."

"Does this really work?" asks the consultant.

The senior officer responds, "Yeah, sometimes it works pretty well, but the main thing is it saves us a lot of time and effort of having to constantly work these cases. Now we have more manpower to work on real crimes, and occasionally one of these girls will come up with great leads on some big cases."

The junior officer turned to the consultant, grinned, and said, "Yeah sometimes they are a big help when other things just happen to come up, too."

The senior officer flashes a knowing grin and says, "Yeah, but we don't talk about that." The consultant made notes to ask the superintendent about the practice.

- Assuming that this practice of working with the prostitutes is approved by the superintendent; can emotivism be applied to understand the perspective of all parties except the consultant? Does their behavior fall under objectivist, subjectivist, naturalistic, or non-naturalistic theory?
- What is ethical for the superintendent to do? Use moral reasoning and moral relativism to support your analysis.
- Is it ethically justifiable to disregard the minor crime of prostitution if it is believed that it will assist in capturing more dangerous or violent criminals? Use relative statements and arguments to support your stand.
- Since it is obvious that the superintendent is not fully upholding the oath of office, should the consultant report this activity to the state attorney general? Why or why not?

Solution Preview

- Assuming that this practice of working with the prostitutes is approved by the superintendent; can emotivism be applied to understand the perspective of all parties except the consultant? Does their behavior fall under objectivist, subjectivist, naturalistic, or non-naturalistic theory?

Emotivism can be applied in this scenario wherein the interpretation of what is right or wrong, moral or immoral is predicated upon emotional expressions of a speaker and his or her intentions to influence actions of the listener. Therefore, the perspectives of the two officers are done in an attempt to influence the consultant in regard to legitimizing the behavior as well as rationalizing it in reference to the reality of vice and the cops that patrol vice areas. Vice involves "victimless" crimes wherein the victim and the criminal are the same person, which makes it extremely ...

Solution Summary

This solution discussion prostitution and the criminal justice system.

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