Ethics can be defined as a morally accepted code of conduct in any given society. This essay focuses on the ethical dilemma that the social worker faces in the office of the public defender. For purposes of analyzing the ethical issues that any given social worker may encounter, I have taken a general social worker. This social worker has called up to evaluate whether a certain person qualifies to stand a trial. The social worker faced with the ethical dilemma of determining whether to make justification that the person can stand trial or the person who is not competent to stand trial. The ethical dilemma arises, when the degree of crime that committed by the individual in question, is extremely high.
For example, the person who is a social worker has asked to evaluate whether he can stand a given trial may have committed murder. The greatest form of dilemma in this case is to follow the set criteria of determination of competency in terms of state of mind of the accused or consider personal feelings on the issue. The person may be, not in a good state of mind (the person may be insane) but as a human being may be likely to conclude that the person should be committed to trial because of the nature of the crime he has committed. One may fail to take into consideration the state of mind due to the contempt may have against this person for committing murder.
The social worker in the public defender office is, therefore, often faced with ethical dilemmas when dealing with certain issues regarding the office. He has to make complex decisions of testifying on behalf of a murderer by standing before the court of law and telling the court that the accused person does not meet the trial criteria. The worker has to decide between following the ethics or the law of the land.
NASW Code of Ethics
NASW sets the code of ethics to be followed by social workers` professions in their day to day duties. The social worker`s basic objective is to ensure that the well being of all humans respected by ensuring that individuals` basic needs are available such as shelter, food and clothing.
NASW sets the ethical standard and principles that social workers should observe in conduct of their duties. They should ensure that there are no conflicting interests in the duties that they are performing, if there are conflicts of interests, they should avoid performing the task to avoid unfair course of actions, which might have negative effects on the client. The social worker should be competent of the task that he/she is performing thus; there is a need for the social worker to have some education in order to competently deal with the task at hand professionally.
Social workers core values are as follows, service, where they supposed to help those who are in need and addressing various social problems. Social justice is another key value that social workers should have in mind as they perform their duties, where they should challenge the social injustices that are in any given society. On the other hand, they should observe integrity, and they opt to have competence in the area of their operation. Social workers are professionals who should be trusted by their clients.
In the case above the social worker`s in the public defense office is faced with the dilemma on evaluation of the competence of the murderer, to stand trial qualifies to be an ethical issue. The social worker has to observe the code of the performance of duty at hand by ensuring that professional values adhered to in this task. It is up to the social worker to ensure that he has the competence that required perform the evaluation in a professional manner. He should also be a person of integrity to be trusted by both, the defendants and the accused on the final findings of his evaluation. The social worker should ensure that he can handle the social injustice that is likely to arise from the decision that he takes on the case at hand.
Decision Making Model
In order to solve the ethical dilemma that faces him in the public office defender, the social worker can apply the following criteria to solve the problem that the social worker faces. The first step is to identify the dilemma that he faced with, in case he has a dilemma of letting go the murderer on the ground of incompetence to stand trial or to avoid the professional values and say that the accused is competent to stand trial on the grounds of personal feelings.
He has to identify all the issues that involved in the dilemma, where in this case the issues that may be involved revolve around moral, personal interests and legal issues. The next stage involves identifying the possible ethical code of conduct that can be applied to solve the challenge at hand. It is also crucial to be aware of regulations and laws that are in place concerning the issue at hand.
The next stage in the decision making process involves consulting with other people to obtain their views on the issue. For example, in case the forensic worker can consult a psychiatrist to whether the mental state of the client allows him to stand trial. The next step involves choosing the best course of action that based on the available information on the issue. The legal and ethical values should be taken into consideration when choosing the course action. The social worker should choose the ethically viable decision on the matter rather than following his personal feelings on the issue (Ralph, Donna & Frank, 1996).