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Professional Ethics in Criminal Justice: Singleton vs Norris


The given paper is devoted to the investigation of a specific case that revolves around a person who suffers from a kind of mental disorder. Considering the fact that people with schizophrenia could not be sentenced in accordance with the basic law, a criminal creates a precedent by ignoring the medicines and preferring to remain unpunished. For this reason, the paper delves into the main peculiarities of the given problem. There might be several perspectives on the suggested topic. These are ethical, legal, medical, and other approaches that tend to analyze actions of the actors who are responsible for the main solutions made during the case. Besides, at the end of the paper conclusion and recommendations are given. Altogether, the comprehensive analysis of this very accident might help to understand the rights of people suffering from mental disorders and the approach used by the court when providing them with an appropriate punishment.

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Case analysis. Main actors responsibilities

Analyzing the given case, it is vital to mind several important aspects. First, Charles Singleton is a first-degree murderer who is sentenced to death. However, he suffers from schizophrenia and could be taken as sane only when he uses pills. It is obvious that trying to avoid punishment Singleton has stopped taking medication. Warden decides that disregarding pills a prisoner poses a great threat to himself and others. For this reason, he should be provided with medicines against his will. Yet, Warden obviously faces a certain ethical dilemma. Being sick, Singleton might be dangerous to himself and the quality of his life will be decreased. However, in case he takes medication, he will become sane and could be punished. The modern ethics recognizes the human life as the greatest value that should be protected (Afifi, Mota, Dasiewicz, MacMillan, & Sareen, 2012). At the same time, Warden should treat a murderer for him to become punished.

Additionally, correctional officers might also be involved in the process as they are responsible for the investigation of Singletons state and provision of a certain conclusion about the possibility of capital punishment. That is why they should devote the great attention to the exploration of the given problem as its unusual character demands specific approaches and actions. Correctional officers also become responsible for the further actions performed to create an efficient solution to the existing case. Moreover, they obviously face the same dilemma as Warden do because their actions might justify the usage of the capital punishment. Finally, as far as Singleton filed a lawsuit, the legislature will also be involved in the case. The Court does not consider the fact that treatment and medication could make the execution of punishment possible and proclaims that the forcible medication is constitutional as it is aimed at the improvement of Singletons state. It becomes obvious that all agents of the given case contribute to the Singletons recovery and at the same time make capital punishment possible.

Ethics and possible punishments

There might be different perspectives on the given case. However, if to analyze it in terms of the humanist ethics, a life of every person remains the greatest value that should be protected. For this reason, Warden, correctional officers, and the legislature do not adhere to its basic principles and disregard Singleton’s interests. Besides, it is also crucial to keep in mind that he is a murderer who still should be punished. The complexity of the case obviously demands some unique approach. Thus, the Supreme Court should perform the following actions. As far as the risk of capital punishment was the main reason for Singletons refusal to take medicines, it should be replaced with life imprisonment which could be considered another specific kind of punishment (Albanese, 2015).

Furthermore, Wardens attempts to improve Singletons state and use the forced medication to treat him could not be considered unconstitutional because these actions followed his interests. Finally, Singleton should be provided with an opportunity to use medications and control his state. There are several factors that could evidence the efficiency of the suggested solution. First, it does not contradict the basic principles of humanism (Kielburger & Kielburger, 2006). Singletons life will be protected and respected even considering the fact that he is a murderer. Additionally, the life imprisonment is also a severe punishment that might have the great impact on a person (Pedersen, n.d).


Altogether, the case could be considered a complicated problem that should be analyzed from various perspectives. The importance of every human life and the attention given to the preservation of human rights condition Singletons right to file a lawsuit and demand cessation of the forced treatment. However, being a murderer who is sentenced to capital punishment, he should obviously experience a specific retribution. The situation is also complicated by the presence of mental illness which serves as one of the key factors that should be considered when analyzing the case (Mental illness and the death penalty, n.d.). For these reasons, the given ethical dilemma could be resolved by using some innovative punishments or life imprisonment instead of the suggested one to improve the situation and satisfy the needs of all people and agents involved in the conflict.


Afifi, T., Mota, N., Dasiewicz, P., MacMillan, H., & Sareen, J. (2012). Physical punishment and mental disorders: Results from a nationally representative US sample. Pediatrics, 130(3), 1-11. Web.

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Albanese, J. (2015). Professional ethics in criminal justice: Being ethical when no one is looking. New York, NY: Pearson Education

Kielburger, C., & Kielburger, M. (2006). Me to we: Finding meaning in a material world. Whitby, Canada: Fireside.

Mental illness and the death penalty. (n.d.). Web.

Pedersen, T. (n.d.). Physical punishment in childhood tied to mental disorders. Web.

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"Professional Ethics in Criminal Justice: Singleton vs Norris." StudyCorgi, 10 Dec. 2020,

1. StudyCorgi. "Professional Ethics in Criminal Justice: Singleton vs Norris." December 10, 2020.


StudyCorgi. "Professional Ethics in Criminal Justice: Singleton vs Norris." December 10, 2020.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "Professional Ethics in Criminal Justice: Singleton vs Norris." December 10, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Professional Ethics in Criminal Justice: Singleton vs Norris'. 10 December.

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