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NCJ Number: 99033 Find in a Library
Title: Who Really Gets Stung? Some Issues Raised by the New Police Undercover Work (From Moral Issues in Police Work, P 99-127, 1985, Fredrick A Elliston and Michael Feldberg, ed. - See NCJ-99027)
Author(s): G T Marx
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 28
Sponsoring Agency: Rowman and Allanheld Publishers
Totowa, NJ 07512
Sale Source: Rowman and Allanheld Publishers
Division of Littlefield, Adams and Co
81 Adams Drive
Totowa, NJ 07512
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Although police undercover activity that creates the context for crime commission is legal, it can be unethical, given the involvement of trickery, coercion, temptation, the misuse of results, and the potential negative effects on participating officers, informers, and third parties.
Abstract: The predisposition of the offender, rather than the objective police methods used to precipitate the offender's crime, is the key factor in determining entrapment. If the offender is evidently predisposed to commit the crime, then government initiatives and enticements to encourage the crime are not illegal. An ethical analysis of such police tactics, however, is disturbing. The tactics commonly involve trickery that (1) offers the illegal action as a minor part of a legal enterprise, (2) disguises the illegal nature of the action, and (3) weakens the target's capacity to distinguish right from wrong. The tactics may also involve coercion that makes the target afraid not to participate in the crime as well as temptation strong enough to overcome a predisposition to obey the law. Undercover work that involves a deep involvement in the criminal subculture and deception can also have a negative effect on an agent's personality, making it difficult to return to a normal or even legitmate lifestyle. The use of informers to perform work illegal for police is a questionable ethical practice in undercover work, as is the often hidden damage to third parties. The public should be concerned about the negative effects of certain undercover activity compared to the value of its ultimate goal, as well as the broad changes in social control methods signified by the increased use of undercover activity to precipitate criminal behavior. Forty-two notes are listed.
Index Term(s): Entrapment; Professional conduct and ethics; Undercover activity
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