Crime Control Policy
In my view, one morally questionable policy of crime control that the U.S. undertook following the 9/11 attacks was the USA PATRIOT Act. Following the terrorist acts, the Bush administration and Congress embarked on passing legislation aimed at strengthening national security. As its title indicates, the law aims at providing agencies of law enforcement and other authorities with the tools that are appropriate and necessary to obstruct and intercept terrorism (Liptak, 2011). As part of its provisions, the law authorizes the authorities to detain immigrants indefinitely and law enforcement agencies to search homes and businesses without the knowledge or consents of owners. The act also allows the authorities to search the communication (email, telephone, etc.) and financial records of citizens without court orders and expanded the access of these authorities to business, financial, and other records. These provisions are questionable from the perspective of human and civil rights because they infringe on the rights and freedoms of citizens, especially in terms of privacy (Liptak, 2011). The impact of the law is that it has expanded the government’s powers of surveillance over citizens, and their fundamental rights, particularly the rights to privacy.
The government and Congress justified the legislation by arguing from a utilitarian perspective that it was necessary to assure national security, especially in the background of terrorist occurrences. The government argued that citizens needed to give up some of their rights in favor of assuring national security (Liptak, 2011). I think that this represented a case of faulty ethical justification in the name of controlling crime since it breached fundamental provisions of genuine democracy and the country’s constitution. The deontological system of ethics is the preferable approach in reasoning concerning national security because for two reasons. Foremost, it judges the appropriateness or wrongness of actions based on a series of rules rather than their consequences (Freeman, n.d.). Additionally, the approach defines such appropriateness on a reason-based framework.
Freeman, S. (n.d.). Deontology. Routledge Ethics publication. Retrieved from:http://cw.routledge.com/ref/ethics/entries/deontology.pdf
Liptak, A. (20117). Civil liberties today. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/07/us/sept-11-reckoning/civil.html