How Are Public Officials Kept Accountable? (by Juliana Putney)

215 SW ADAMS, MS 32

Hillsboro, Or 97123

Sheriff Pat Garrett

Hi remember me? This is Juliana Putney and I’m doing an assignment for my writing class which includes writing to a government official within my theme. Right now I am researching how public officials are held accountable. And I have recently discovered that parole officers and other officers are not regularly checked up on unless there is a complaint filed about them.

I personally have a problem with this. I have personally had experiences where a parole officer failed to do their job and someone was allowed to get away with more criminal actions on top of their already growing criminal record. I know plenty of officers, detectives, sheriffs, state troopers, etc… All of these people that I talked to have confirmed that there are no disciplinary actions performed until a formal complaint have has been filed.

There has to be something that can be done to keep officials aware that they will be held accountable whether a complaint is made or not. If nothing can be done about that at least the public should be aware that if they notice an official out of line, it isn’t until a complaint is made that anything will be done about that certain official. I’m not saying that something drastic needs to happen; only that something needs to be done so that our community knows that their officials are being held accountable for their actions and choices.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Juliana Putney

****

Research Question: How are public officials kept accountable?

Research Collection

Stapenhurst, Rick, and Mitchell O’Brien. “Accountability in Governance.” Worldbank.org. World Bank,     n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.

Summary: Stapenhurst and O’Brien are covering the different types of accountability in the government. They also talk about how the different types of accountability fit into different places within the government. An example given in this article is where officials are required, when called upon to show proof of their decisions or justify them this is called answerability. One of the other types of accountability is where an official caught with bad or offensive behavior is held to their accountability to the effect where they are shadowed or deeply integrated this is known as enforcement. These are only two of the examples but they give lots of ideas that help with my research.

Commentary: This page was really helpful, knowing lots of types of accountability helped me to realize that even though the public may not be able to witness the different types of accountability their officials are involved in, doesn’t mean that they aren’t being held accountable.

Rosenbaum, Allan. “Good Governance, Accountability and the Public Servant.” Un.org. Institute for Public Management and Community Service and Professor of Public Administration, n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.

Summary: In this piece Rosenbaum talks about how accountability affects the community and how so many are expected to be accountable within their own job descriptions.  The point of this paper is arguing the importance accountability of government officials.

Commentary: I know that this is an important aspect for all public officials to have. So I found this piece very interesting, as well as all the examples given throughout the piece. It helps a person to better understand the idea behind accountability.

N’Jai, Jacquelyn. “Petitioning the U.S. Center.” Change.org. N.p., 2012. Web. 29 Nov. 2012. <http://www.change.org/petitions/the-u-s-senate-make-judges-and-other-public-officials-accountable-for-violating-the-law&gt;.

Summary: This site is actually a petition not an article, this petition is created on the idea that judges and other government officials being held to the same standards as every other working individual.

Commentary: It is really interesting to read different people’s ideas about officials that are not held accountable and some officials that these people believe are not held at such standards are judges and police officers.  There are so many types of officials mentioned in this petition site that it is hard to generalize all of the officials that are or aren’t held accountable by those in charge of them.

Gregory, Robert. “ACCOUNTABILITY, RESPONSIBILITY AND CORRUPTION: MANAGING THE.” Un.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.

Summary: This piece was mostly about corruption within the officials and different companies that are more likely to be held accountable then other ones. A lot of the examples given in this piece make you understand why it is hard to keep full accountability of some officials depending on their jobs.

Commentary: This piece helps to clarify the difficulties with keeping some companies accountable, it makes you really think about doubting government officials and all that they do for us.

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2 comments

  1. Collin Huschka

    I found your post very interesting because I was thinking about the same topic the other day not only from a parole officer perspective but from an overall police officer perspective. It seems to me that officials such as parole officers know that they aren’t held accountable until a complaint is filed so they are almost acting on their own morals until then. The fact that some parole officers are failing to do their job not only hurts our community (by letting convicted offenders continue to break the law) but also hurts the parolee because when they’re off of parole they either are going to have an abrupt welcoming back into society or they’re going to continue to break the law and end up back in prison. I believe that some parole officers act similarly to police officers and that’s by abusing their power simply because they’re almost always in the “right” rather than in the “wrong” from a judicial standpoint.
    I like the fact that you focused particularly on parole officers but I would’ve also liked to have seen some mention of police officers as well in the letter. Although the accountability of parole officers is more important (because they’re watching over convicted criminals), many police officers treat innocent people as if they are convicted/dangerous criminals. From my experience, some police officers mistake the term “protect and serve” for “ultimate power trip” and mistreat many good people as a result of their power, that’s simply from my perspective though. Regardless, I thought your letter shed light and importance on a topic that is seldom focused on and it can serve as an eye-opening piece of writing for an officer to read.

  2. Scott McDonald

    Very interesting topic and persuasive letter. There’s no doubt that government officals are not held accountable as much as they should be. Great useage of your own experiences to validate your argument. Especially when you speak about people that you’ve talked to that are in these positions and they’ve confirmed that “there are no disciplinary actions performed until a formal complaint have has been filed.” I am glad to see from your research work that there is some accountability, but it just may not be made public. I know a couple of police officers, and they said police officers are held accountable but it’s more of a slap on the wrist and kept in house. From their standpoint, only bad publicity can come from making it publc…which is probably why they don’t take serious action until there are formal complaints. Great letter…and great work!

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