What ethical standards should govern processing of arrestees


Should the sheriff attempt to provide an explanation for the missing watch and jewelry? You strongly suspect that the officers who put Sims in the "drunk tank" weren't particularly careful in removing Sims' personal effects. Thus, you surmise, one or more of the drunk tank occupants probably stole those items from Sims while he was passed out and disabled. Who should be held accountable for the missing items? What ethical standards should govern the processing of arrestees in this situation? How could they be enforced? Discuss.


Sheriff's deputies Jim Arthur and Alvin Smith pulled over an out-of-state car that was weaving late at night on a county highway. The deputies approached the car and saw an elderly man slumped over the driver's wheel. The man was babbling incoherently. Arthur and Smith believed the man was drunk. They lifted him from the car, handcuffed him, and manhandled him into the back of their cruiser. By the time they arrived at the county jail, the man had passed out. They searched him and removed his wallet. They determined from his ID that he was MacArthur Sims, 58 years old, and that he was from a nearby state. He was carrying $425 in his wallet and appeared to be well dressed. Arthur told Smith and two jail officers, "This guy's too tanked to book. Let's put him in the drunk tank where he can sleep it off."

Arthur and Smith, along with the jail officers, carried Sims into one of the drunk tanks and placed him on a cot. There were 12 other men in the drunk tank being held on various drinking-related charges. No one administered any type of blood test to determine Sims' intoxication level. "The deputies who brought you in here took your wallet with over $400 in it. We have it in a bag for you. We put you in the tank to sleep it off. You can post $250 bond and leave now if you want. But you'll have to appear before Judge Brown tomorrow on drunk-driving charges or forfeit the bond." When he received his wallet, Sims removed $250 and handed it to the jail officer, obtained a receipt, and left the jail.

Shortly thereafter, Sims went to a nearby hospital and was examined by a physician, Dr. Wilson. The doctor performed tests and determined that Sims had had a mild heart attack the previous evening, which had brought on the dizziness.

There was absolutely no evidence that he had been drinking the night before. There was absolutely no alcohol or any drugs in his blood when tested. Sims contacted one of his lawyer friends in the community, Jeff Arlington, who met him back at the county jail. The men entered the jail and Arlington asked to speak with Sheriff Abraham "Abe" Giles. Sheriff Giles was the sheriff of the county and invited the men into the office. "Abe," said Arlington, "You guys really screwed up last night.

You pulled over my attorney friend, here, Mac Sims, who suffered a mild heart attack. He was thrown in one of your deputy's cars and taken to your jail. Then he was thrown in the drunk tank. Sometime between the time he was arrested, taken to drunk tank, and let out this morning, he lost his expensive watch and some valuable rings he was wearing. I want to know where that property is. Where are the deputies who made this 'arrest,' anyway? I understand from the paperwork that they were Arthur and Smith. I'd like to talk to them right away. They have some explaining to do.

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Business Law and Ethics: What ethical standards should govern processing of arrestees
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