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Corruption in the Law Enforcement Industry

Corruption in the Law Enforcement Industry Free Essay


The problem of corruption is extremely serious. Nowadays, corruption has greatly penetrated into the law enforcement industry of different countries. It explains the rationale for choosing this theme. To write the current paper, several credible sources providing important examples of corruption in the sphere of law enforcement were used. Frequently, incorrect judgments are pronounced, and an innocent person gets into prison, which is typical for many states. However, as the United States proclaims itself as a country defending people’s rights and freedoms, corruption in the law enforcement industry should be extirpated. Moreover, the problem related to prevention and suppression of corruption in the law enforcement industry is relevant for a great number countries. It is necessary to study a variety of methods and ways used in other countries for combating corruption and feasibility of using their experience in the conditions of the American law enforcement system.

Keywords: corruption, the police, law enforcement, rules, abuse


Corruption in the Law Enforcement Industry

The term corruption comes from the Latin word that means bribery. However, until now, this concept is often defined through the categories of sociology and policy rather than law. The absence of the term corruption in criminal legislation of the United States, France, and other countries is the proof of this. However, this concept has already entered the international lexicon. Increased public danger of corruption in the area of public administration is determined by the fact that it is manifested in the behavior of subjects designed to conduct integration and control of all functions of the society undermining the foundations of public authorities. Currently, there are no sufficient techniques for restraint and prevention of corruption in law enforcement. Therefore, the study of the issues of combating corruption in the United States in the law enforcement industry is of considerable interest. The purpose of the paper is to study the problem of corruption in the law enforcement industry and examine possible measures to combat it.

The Problem of Corruption

The problem of corruption is extremely topical in many countries. It is associated with the fact that corruption has deeply penetrated into the law enforcement industry. In the book Drivers of Corruption, it is noted that “in many countries, the law enforcement system is itself ingrained with corruption, thus hampering any attempt to clamp down on corruption and to strengthen anticorruption norms by holding those involved responsible” (Soreide, 2014, p. 57). Corruption does the greatest harm among the widest range of problems existing in the field of the law enforcement industry. In the book Police Corruption, Maurice Punch (2013) affirms that “policing and corruption go hand in hand. That the two are inextricably linked is a grave matter because the police organization is the prime agency of the state for law enforcement and social control” (p. 1). Corruption in the law enforcement sphere is manifested in the form of a traditional bribery (Kochan & Goodyear, 2011). In the book The Complexities of Police Corruption, it is written that “the gain can be financial, social, psychological, and/or emotional” (Corsianos, 2012, p. 4). As a rule, corruption affects the law enforcement industry in those countries where it already flourishes in other spheres of life, especially in politics. In turn, corruption in politics nourishes corruption in law enforcement, thus making a vicious circle (Kochan & Goodyear, 2011). Corruption in the law enforcement system should not be underestimated. It is connected with the fact that corruption reduces the ability of the international community to confront crime and terrorism, poses serious barriers to the development of world trade and investment, and also makes it difficult to resolve international conflicts impartially.

Despite the fact that the United States of America is considered the state of freedom, the legal system of the country is considered one of the most corrupted in the world. Courts often pronounce pre-agreed judgments. Judicial errors, lawyers who extort money from their customers, and dishonest judges are typical of American courts. Unfortunately, it is the tragic reality of the country. Nowadays, there are at least 100,000 completely innocent people in American prisons (Punch, 2013). Nonetheless, statistics of innocence may actually be even higher. In recent years, there are hundreds of innocent people sentenced to death in the United States. Since 1973, the number of such people has reached 156. 97.6 percent of convictions in US courts were the result of a voluntary confession of condemned (Punch, 2013). Moreover, a great number of people are not punished with the help of bribes. Many criminals that committed serious crimes are released.

It should be stated that the majority of bribe takers are males (Punch, 2013). As a rule employees of the law enforcement industry commit corruption crimes between the ages of 25 and 40 years old (Punch, 2013). A large number of such employees are married. They also have extensive working experience in this area, with the increase of which, the intensity of corruption also increases. Employees in the law enforcement industry that have committed acts of corruption usually have a high level of education (Punch, 2013). The material interest is certainly dominated among the motives for corrupt behavior. In such a way, consideration of a criminological portrait of the employee who commits an act of corruption in the law enforcement industry leads to a conclusion that it is usually a person with a sufficiently high work experience, a high level of education, and certain knowledge in the field. He or she tends to exercise corrupt activities consciously. It is also important to emphasize that one out of seven employees in the law enforcement system took bribes at least once (Punch, 2013). It is an extremely disappointing statistics.

It should be noted that American prisons are an awful place where prisoners are subjected to various painful humiliations. Cruelty, rape, and beating thrive in US prisons. The practice of litigation in the United States claims that lawyers and judges threaten people with illegal imprisonment, rape, tortures, and murder in prison. In addition, prisons are highly corrupted in the country. The majority of workers in prisons earn little money. Thus, they often want to receive an additional income. They frequently help prisoners escape or receive forbidden things. It is primarily true for correctional officers. The main reasons for a high corruption rate among correctional officers include insufficient hiring standards and poor pay. Besides, their job is extremely dangerous, and they receive neither recognition nor compensation for it. It explains a large percentage of bribe takers among prison workers in the United States. This situation is typical for the majority of prisons around the country.

Prevention of Corruption

In general, there are several effective anti-corruption measures in the law enforcement industry. The first one includes legal measures, such as adoption of anti-corruption legislation. First of all, prevention, detection, and suppression of corruption in the law enforcement industry include universal fundamental principles and standards of activity established in the international documents. The UN General Assembly established the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, which stipulates that law enforcement officials should not commit any act of corruption (Corsianos, 2012). They should also rigorously oppose any acts of corruption and combat with them. Several international documents related to corruption were adopted such as the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Corsianos, 2012). To date, the Convention was signed by 140 and ratified by 80 states. In addition to international principles, rules, and settings, many countries have special laws on corruption. The United Kingdom, the USA, France, Italy, and Canada were one of the first who admitted laws on the prevention of corruption (Corsianos, 2012). In the interest of the fight against corruption, both legislative norms of the preventive nature and measures of criminal influence on people who have violated the relevant prohibitions are developed. The legislation of many countries provides criminal responsibility for various corruption offenses (Corsianos, 2012). However, it is impossible to overcome corruption with purely punitive measures.

The second group includes administrative and legal measures. They include strengthening of standards and prohibitions in the law enforcement industry defined in the normative legal acts such as laws, statutes, codes, rules, regulations, and others. The content of the concepts of prevention and suppression of corruption in this system mainly leads to a need for the detailed definition of an administrative and legal status of the policeman. The legislation of the countries considers the police service as a special kind of the public service with its clearly defined boundaries (Corsianos, 2012). Moreover, police officers must strictly obey the controlled ethical and disciplinary standards. For this purpose, a number of countries have adopted codes of honor, codes of ethics, model rules, and standards of conduct for police officers. In the United States, rules of prevention of police corruption include definition and adherence to professional standards. In such a way, each worker should follow the rules of professional ethics. Every new employee is obliged to learn the code. In the police of different countries, great attention is paid to security in the battle against corruption. For this purpose, in the foreign police agencies there are developed specialized units designed to investigate violations of law in the police service.

The next group of preventive measures includes social measures. They aim at providing attractiveness and stability in the police service through the creation of a complex of favorable social conditions, including high wages, social benefits, quality health care, free education, career development, and others. Using various types of material incentives, the state draws a conclusion that poor funding of the law enforcement industry is the main factor that nourishes and feeds corruption and vice versa – decent and respectable conditions make employees their service and cherish their reputation (Corsianos, 2012). Following this principle, the police in the US significantly increased the salaries of police officers in 1980 (Corsianos, 2012). It allowed them to be included to the so-called middle-class American society. Besides, additional social benefits were introduced to combat corruption such as health insurance, free higher education, preferential loans, and higher pensions. This fact made the police service extremely attractive and gave rise to healthy competition in the selection of candidates to the service. Similar events were held in most European countries, Canada, Japan, and others (Corsianos, 2012). However, as practice shows, the principle used in many countries that the high salary of officials, police officers, and judges is a kind of antidote to bribery, do not always work.

The next principle includes ideological, moral, and ethical education of employees. The main emphasis on overcoming corruption in the United States is made on its prevention. Firstly, special checks are conducted as an organizational barrier against the penetration of morally unscrupulous and incompetent people into the US government agencies. In respect to people appointed to senior positions, they are held by FBI forces (Corsianos, 2012). Checking begins with a request to the service accounts of FBI and the police. Requests to the FBI territorial authorities at the place of birth, residence, study, and work of the candidate are sent. It also sets whether a candidate is not listed in the registry accounts of credit organizations. When conducting a special check, people focus on the study of the material situation of the candidate, the state of his/her mental health, negative aspects of lifestyle, and all contracts with foreign states. After enrolment at the service, an employee is closely monitored. Every year, a person is obliged to fill in the forms of various types and content, which include questions about the available property, shares, an additional item of income, and an expensive gift.

Another principle is ensuring transparency and openness of the law enforcement industry and increasing the level of accountability of senior officers, which greatly impedes corruption abuses. For example, in the Netherlands, there is an ongoing accountability and transparency in the matters of detection of corruption and discussion of the consequences of penalties for the acts of corruption. Each year, the Minister of Internal Affairs of the country submits a report to the Parliament on the detected cases of corruption and the measures taken to punish those involved in corruption (Corsianos, 2012). Media plays the major role in ensuring these measures work. It relentlessly illuminates any corruption incidents, events, and processes on all media channels.

The last method involves interaction of the law enforcement industry with the civil society. It includes activation of the civil initiative and involvement of particular groups and individuals (Corsianos, 2012). Besides, it involves consideration of citizens’ opinion and analysis of public complaints about corruption in the law enforcement industry. The priority in the prevention and suppression of corruption is the work with complaints of citizens.


It is safe to say that the most discussed topic that disturbs the legal community of different countries is the level of corruption. Corruption in the United States relates to the challenges that threaten national interests of the country. Every year, a plurality of cases of corruption is investigated in the US. Corruption leads to the loss of confidence in the law enforcement industry. In turn, it undermines the role of the state and, thus, leads to the problems with national security, terrorism, and human rights. In such a way, great and continuous attention is paid to the prevention, detection, and suppression of corruption in the law enforcement industry in the United States.

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