determining guilt or innocence. When someone has been judged guilty and the appellate and collateral review process has ended, the legal profession seems to lose all interest. When the prisoner is taken way, our attention turns to the next case. When the door is locked against the prisoner, we do not think about what is behind it.” This chapter takes a glimpse of what goes on behind the door—and exposes the student to a little known area of ethical misconduct.

With the exception of the imposition of death, the deprivation of liberty is the most serious action society takes against an offender. The prison rep­ resents society’s ultimate penalty. By being sent to prison, offenders are invol­ untarily removed from the community through a legal process and placed in a confinement facility where their liberties are circumscribed. In the United States, prison systems are a huge and expensive enterprise. The 50 states, the federal government, and the District of Columbia all operate prisons. More than 1.5 million people are confined in prisons, with terms ranging in length of time from one year to life without parole. In addition, based upon the threat the individual poses to society and the crime committed, inmates are confined in conditions that severely restrict their freedom, and they are deprived of goods, services, and liberties from which nonincarcerated citizens are free to choose. More recently, prisons in America have become more punitive in their outlook and operating philosophy, and conditions of confinement have become more severe. A book (Harsh Justice) by James Q. Whitman, a Yale law professor, makes the controversial suggestion that the goals of the American prison system have shifted from rehabilitation to purposes that degrade and demean prisoners.

In this chapter, the problem of corruption and its control are examined as one form of ethical misconduct in state correctional systems. Historically, prison corruption has been a persistent and pervasive feature of corrections, periodically erupting in the form of scandals that are usually brought to our attention by the press. No prison system is immune from this problem; in recent years, major prison scandals have been reported in Alabama, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Politi­ cal payoffs, organized crime, large­scale street gangs, and the general avarice of people who have been hired to work in prisons have contributed or played a role in a number of these scandals. Other than media reports and the occa­ sional state investigation, little is known about the problem. Prison systems are not open to the public, and much of what goes on inside is hidden from the public view. In fact, Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, in a speech to the American Bar Association, described the prison as “the hidden world of punishment; [and] we would be startled by what we see” if we were to look.

Periodically the prison becomes exposed to the general public when extreme abuses make their way to the public eye, as in the case of the charges of torture and sexual abuse occurring in the military prison in Abu Grahib.

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