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Nathan Mageau

2/2016
Ethics, Crime, and Criminal Justice
Chapter 2 Critical Reflection
The choice of those not to act upon a situation, or acts of omission, was never an aspect
of criminal justice and crime that I had previously thought critically about until reading the text
in chapter two. The moral dilemma that is born into numerous situations when people choose not
to act raised many questions in my mind, especially after examining the case of Cheryl Ann
Araujo. One of these questions is should there be laws that legally obligate individuals to report a
crime? This is a very complicated question to answer because every crime is unique in its one
way. In the case of the Tavern Rape I do believe that the two witnesses that were acquitted
should have been convicted of accessory to a rape because, according to the evidence, they were
supporting the crime taking place. However, I believe there are some situations in which
witnesses should not be held guilty for acts of omission. For example, if an individual was to
witness a man being beaten in an alley they should not be legally obligated to get involved
because not only one person would be in danger, but now two would be if he/she were to
confront the offender directly. Luckily, in todays society it is very rare for one not to have a cell
phone on them at all times so instead of getting directly involved one can just dial 911 and let the
police handle a potentially hazardous situation. This being considered, I believe that citizens
should not be legally obligated to get directly involved in a dangerous situation but if they are
allowing/supporting a crime to take place then they should be held responsible considering the
circumstances. Whether or not one encouraged a crime to take place or was just looking out for
their personal safety is best to be handled by our modern day court system and improved

investigating tools/strategies (ex. increase in video surveillance). Acts of omission caught my


attention because this issue is experienced on a daily basis by homicide detectives, which is my
desired occupation in the field of criminal justice. I have come to realize through reading articles,
watching television shows about the daily functions of homicide investigators, and word of
mouth that the lack of assistance to the police force in low income neighborhoods is a very real
problem. Homicides occur on a regular basis in these drug/violence ridden neighborhoods and it
is almost expected that detectives are not going to get any help from the community because they
do not trust the police force and they live in their own subculture where snitches get stitches or
snitches lay in ditches. Considering this, should inhabitants of these communities be charged
with accessory to a crime? It is hard to say yes because these people are taught at a young age
not to talk to the police; so should we punish people for being ignorant? This problem is not
going to get any better either as the youth in these communities witness violent crimes regularly
and are constantly in a moral dilemma: tell the police about a violent crime and be
killed/seriously injured or keep your mouth shut and risk an accessory charge. I think it is very
clear what decision an uneducated child in these neighborhoods would choose and would be told
to choose. They are only products of their environment, and I hope that one day I can help
change these environments by my contribution to society.
The universal element of choice is another topic discussed in chapter two that had a
personal effect on myself and is very relevant to many issues that I have witnessed involving the
criminal justice system. I can admit, like most people, that I have made terrible decisions. One of
those decisions was in the early morning of January 1, 2015 I decided to drive while impaired in
order to get home from a friends house because I had a 2am curfew that night. In result, I would
end up crashing my car in a ditch and later be charged with a DWI. I learned many lessons from

this bad choice. Although my intent was never to harm anyone I did cause much emotional and
financial pain to my parents and I very well could have died or killed an innocent person. I can
honestly say that I never sat down and thought critically about what possible consequences could
occur from a non-violent action such as drinking and driving; which is kind of embarrassing to
admit. However, I can now say that I have made a terrible decision, and luckily have been able to
walk away from it unscathed although under different circumstances I could be in prison right
now for a vehicular manslaughter charge. Ever since this incident, I think about others and not
myself much frequently and will continue to do so. The importance of choices and their possible
consequences is directly related to the criminal justice system as well. While reading about this
topic in the text I immediately thought about the controversial event that took place in Ferguson,
Missouri in August of 2014. I am sure you are familiar with this case as it was headlined on CNN
for a few weeks. I have always been on the side of the officer because I do believe he was in fear
for his life as Micheal Brown had already proven to be a dangerous individual after a
surveillance camera caught him robbing a convenience store and assaulting the clerk moments
before he was shot by the police officer. Evidence also showed that Micheal Brown had in fact
assaulted the officer prior to being shot. Recently me and my friend were debating about this
event and he brought up a very good point. That is, why the officer used his pistol instead of his
taser. I then thought about the consequences that arose from killing the teen and what problems
could have been avoided had the officer used his taser. The family of Micheal Brown was struck
with an emotional burden that they would carry for the rest of their life. The town of Ferguson
experienced intense rioting following his death which not only resulted in financial loss but there
were many injuries as a result of these riots. Also, the exposure of this issue by the media caused
tension among millions of people in our country because it gave us another topic to argue about.

The potential emotional and financial burden that using a taser on that afternoon could have
avoided is substantial. This unfortunate event further proves the importance of not only our
personal actions, but the actions of those whose job it is to protect and serve our society.