| June 25, 2015

Ethical issues should always be considered when targeting different populations. Many psychologists are face to counsel individuals from different backgrounds and ethnicities’. The law was intended to serve everyone equally but overtime we have learned this was inaccurate. Most victims and offenders of different backgrounds have it easier and significantly worse than others. The law does hold everyone responsible for their actions regardless of their race. The stimulus and violent factors in the African-American community has proven Blacks are often punished more severely than any other race for the same offense. What does it really mean to be equal in a world where people are at a disadvantaged when judged by the color of their skin? Society is built to focus on the wide-range of negativity within the Black community. African-Americans are perceived to be brutal beast. We are there more prisons than colleges?

The level of violence in the African-American community has nearly tripled in the last decade. Psychologists should never allow personal beliefs to shadow the vision of their overall purpose. How many Black Americans are often given an easier sentence due to a mental illness? White Americans are often viewed as victims and Black Americans are often guilty until proven innocent. Personally, I don’t feel there are special considerations for those who are incarcerated, or violent versus non-violent offenders. Strict protocols apply for all prisoners regardless of race; the sentencing is different. Most employers still consider criminals as risk factors regardless of their racial background.


Treatment interventions for offenders have the ability to decrease recidivism. For example, working as a Residential Counselor, I interact with violent offenders, non-violent offenders, and trauma residents. However in 2014, we’ve conducted a treatment study on 80 of the 350 residents we board. We concluded the treatment process for the violent offenders wasn’t working. These findings were supported by one-on-one interaction, shift notes, behavior goals, and time management. We’ve realized if the approach didn’t change we would be moving away from rehabilitation but while in- housing criminals. It’s common for peers to adapt to their environment while forced to obey rules and regulations.

Over 80% of our residents are sexual offenders. We have only 20% who are there for behavioral and trauma. However, the 20% of residents will begin to react and respond as the violent and non-violent offenders. Most adapt to their environment out of fear and attention seeking. This may sometimes increase the effort need to commit crime and increase the risks of committing crime. Crime experts often think that crime is a product of one’s environment. This is characterized a person’s physical deterioration with conflicting values and social skills. Residents with different issues still struggle in all areas of life. Ethical guidelines are required by law; a treatment provider is required to meet ethical standards. As professionals it’s important to understand helping clients and families requires behaving in a fair and respectable manner.


Today, the United States has a higher percentage of incarcerated non-violent offenders with misdemeanors. Recent research shows nearly 7 million people are in jail or on probation or parole (Withheld, 1958). There are changes in the sentencing of a violent offender in comparison to a non-violent offender. The majority of violent offenders return to prison within a short period of their release. Some examples are typical mandatory minimum sentences for smaller offenses. Yet, we have other “violent offenders” serving longer sentences for drug abuse when recent laws made the most popular drug legal. What happens to those who are serving lengthy sentencing?

According to (Drake et al.) there are 30-70% of offenders with mental disorders. Why are we housing prisoner’s verses seeking treatment? The comparison of target populations is the government. The federal laws control eligibility for employment. Anyone with a criminal history has fewer chances of obtaining a well-paid job along with limited education privileges. How are humans supposed to change themselves the system is targeted to fail? Most offenders are most likely to reoffend when left with no additional options.


The criminal justice system oversees corrections of all offenders and the mentally ill. Supreme court cases surpass prejudice. They are forced to take action against everyone regardless of the relationship. The supreme court consists of an executive committee: law enforcement, prevention treatment plans, community policing, restoration. Juveniles are known as non-violent offenders. The non-violent offenders have numerous programs that offer efficient and cost effective programs for treatment. Juveniles are typically under the age of twenty-one to notice the charges against them but receive an opportunity to become rehabilitated. Most juveniles are given a second chance without the crime affecting their criminal history long-term.

Violent offenders should be handled with caution. Most violent offenders are familiar with the judicial system and imprisonment. The problem of background injustice is the racial inequality. African-American men are stereotyped as the most well-known violent offenders simply by their color. Society views Blacks Americans as less in wealth, income, and power. No one in higher position is going to teach someone weaker than them to become successful. However, the fact that African-Americans are suffering more than others does not mean that our societies lack radical differences within itself. According to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2002, 22 state prison systems were at 100% capacity. It’s disturbing to know almost 33% of African-Americans will be imprisoned during their lifetimes; while only 17% of Hispanic males, and 5.9% of White males. Men are more likely to go to prison than women (Hinman).

Mentally ill persons who commit crimes are often undergoing medical treatment. The object is to distinguish a balance between the right of the patient to treatment and the right to allow a jury to decide. This is often conflicting because ethical standards and the right to act on behalf of the victim. Most don’t agree with having a mentally ill or traumatized individual hospitalized then later released to society. This is often determined with the help of a forensic psychologist. What is the appropriate treatment for this individual?

The State of South Carolina vs. Susan Smith is a prime example how one could be misled. Susan Smith is the mother who murdered her two boys. It was a struggle for most to understand as she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and abuse. Most people expressed sympathy for even though she murdered her sons. The courts had to consider her illnesses but also look at all aspects. Any mentally ill woman would conspire to send innocent men to prison for a crime that was never happened is competent enough to stand trial. The jury was forced to determine if she was a victim or murderer. Though, she was convicted and sentenced to serve a minimum of thirty years it still shows how backwards the system is from a racial standpoint. The State of Florida vs. Marissa Alexander sentenced Marissa to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot to her abusive husband. Though, she was released in 2014 the system failed. Both women experienced depression and low self-esteem that clouded their judgment. Mental health treatment is needed for both women. Susan’s crime was more severe but the experience was fairly similar. Marissa Alexander spent years in prison and may have a level of distrust when can lead to triggers and anxiety. Why were both women sentence nearly the same for two separate situations? Does the violent offender’s punishment fit the crime?


Drake, Robert E. et al. “Best Practices: The Johnson & Johnson-Dartmouth Community Mental

Health Program: Disseminating Evidence-Based Practice”. PS 57.3 (2006): 302-304

Hinman, L. 2015. “The Ethics of Punishment” Retrieved on 31 May 2015.

Withheld, N. “Jail For Juvenile Criminals” National Probation and Parole Association New

York City Gentlemen. Crime & Delinquency 4.2 (1958). 189-189

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