In contemporary settings, there are philosophical principles and values that have gained popularity by virtue of necessity. Terms such as sustainability, corporate social responsibility, support for environmental protection and conservation, diversity and inclusion abound. Global organizations in different sectors, including criminal justice, have recognized that supporting diversity contributes positively to the professional growth. Diversity has been defined as “the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political belief” (Ferris State University, n.d., p. 1). In criminal justice, the definition, value, and implications of diversity was presented by Judge Lubbie Harper, Jr. at the Division of Criminal Justice’s Multicultural Luncheon (Harper, 2007). Accordingly, diversity, specifically cultural diversity, was described as follows:
“a concept which represents the history, attitudes, behavior, language, values, beliefs and uniqueness which distinguishes each racial or sub-cultural group in a society. Diversity is a concept that, if accepted, embraces, appreciates and values the beauty of intrinsic human and cultural differences. It is a source of national strength, it is a concept that can increase our sensitivity and awareness, enrich our lives, increase our knowledge, expand the scope of our understanding, and improve the quality of our lives in so many different ways” (Harper, 2007, p. 3).
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Understanding the concept of diversity has profound implications for leaders and managers within the criminal justice system. For one, integrating diversity principles within the criminal justice system would affirm emphasis to equality and respect in treatment. As noted, “leaders need to know that they have to build accountability into their systems with regard to their managers taking responsibility for creating a diverse and inclusive work environment” (Brescoll, 2011). Clear cut policies and procedures, especially those violating principles of commitment to diversity need to be enforced.
Concurrently, diversity principles ensure that justice is provided “irrespective of a person’s racial, social, ethnic or economic background” (Harper, 2007, p. 10). Leaders and managers are apprised and reminded to behave according to ethical, moral, and legal standards, particularly with regards to the promotion of principles of diversity. Leaders and managers are at the forefront of advocating for cultural diversity and are expected to act and behave according to the ideals set within these diversity principles.
Furthermore, leaders and managers within the criminal justice system are expected to advocate for commitment to diversity due to the immense benefits attributed to it. As learned, “diverse groups outperform homogeneous ones… (when) we have people who come from different perspectives (are present) at the table, the solutions that we bring to our clients, the way we interact, and the relationships we build with our clients are going to distinguish us from our competitors” (Brescoll, 2011, p. 1). Diversity principles make leaders and managers understand that the focus is not only on the clients being served (convicted criminals), but equally so on employees, local community members, as well as private and public institutions that criminal justice systems do business interactions with. Diversity promotes sharing of insights and relevant experiences that could improve current practices that needs to be addressed.
In retrospect, diversity principles should be advocated by leaders and managers within the criminal justice system, as one among other sectors within the global environment. The benefits of supporting a diverse workforce, in conjunction with respecting people from all walks of life, affirm that the criminal justice system consistently upholds conformity and adherence to the highest standards of professionalism, as deemed to be expected.
- Brescoll, V. L. (2011, January 1). What do leaders need to understand about diversity? Retrieved from Yale Insights: http://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/what-do-leaders-need-to-understand-about-diversity
- Ferris State University. (n.d.). Diversity and Inclusion Definitions. Retrieved from ferris.edu: https://ferris.edu/HTMLS/administration/president/DiversityOffice/Definitions.htm
- Harper, L. J. (2007, February 15). DIVERSITY IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM-ITS VALUE AND ITS IMPLICATIONS. Retrieved from jud.ct.gov: https://www.jud.ct.gov/external/news/Speech/Harper_Diversity_0207.pdf