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Reforming the criminal justice system – an ethical leadership approach

Verl Anderson (College of Business, Dixie State University, Saint George, Utah, USA)
Riki Ichiho (College of Business, Dixie State University, Saint George, Utah, USA)

International Journal of Public Leadership

ISSN: 2056-4929

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




The current criminal justice system is pledged to serve and protect society while preserving the rights of those who are accused. The purpose of this paper is to explore the premise of “innocent until proven guilty” and examine whether this assumption truly prevails under the current criminal justice system, or be modified to accommodate a sliding continuum of virtuosity.


This paper is a conceptual paper which relies heavily on the current literature about criminal justice and related ethical issues.


The paper argues that today’s criminal justice system fails to meet the standards of the virtuous continuum and that those who oversee that system need to rethink how the system operates and is perceived by the public if they wish the criminal justice system to be perceived as just, fair, and ethically responsible.

Research limitations/implications

Because this paper is a conceptual paper it does not present research hypotheses.

Practical implications

This paper suggests that “virtue” and “ethics” must be the foundation upon which the criminal justice system is evaluated, and criminal justice must incorporate an ethical standard which is virtuous and fair to all parties and leaders who oversee that system must meet the standards suggested by the virtuous continuum.


This paper is among the first to identify the viewpoint of the virtuous perspective, moral perspective, amoral perspective, and immoral perspective in the criminal justice system.



Anderson, V. and Ichiho, R. (2017), "Reforming the criminal justice system – an ethical leadership approach", International Journal of Public Leadership, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 64-75.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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