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Speed camera proposal sparks further ethics debate in Maryland

In a previous post about speed cameras in Maryland, we mentioned that there was a proposal to amend the laws regarding the use of cameras in construction zones. The cameras were generating money from tickets that were issued at times when no construction workers were at work within the zones. Some argued that the cameras should only function during construction hours.

That amendment did not pass. And it didn't take long for another proposed speed camera amendment to spring up and inspire continued debate over the controversial law enforcement tools. This proposed amendment, if passed, would basically take the police out of the speeding ticket process entirely.

Already, debate surrounding the speed cameras focuses on the troubling point that cameras, not police officers, judge whether a person is speeding. As much as we like to think that computers are perfect, they make mistakes, and taking an officer out of the ticket issuing process takes away the chance that a person's experience and judgment would catch an error.

To try to mitigate that problem, those who get speeding tickets based on a camera are promised that a police officer will review the details of the ticket before a suspected speeder is required to pay the ticket. The proposed amendment now on the table, however, would take that promise away. Instead, mere civilian employees at police agencies would be given the authority to check the accuracy of the tickets.

Critics of the amendment argue that taking away a required police review would make the process even more "unfair" than it is currently. Supporters see the amendment as a way to keep more police on the streets without holding up the speeding ticket process.

A question comes from the opinions regarding the amendment. Is efficiency more valuable than ethical processes within the criminal justice system?

Source "Bill would alter speed camera law in Maryland," Christian Schaffer, Mar. 13, 2012

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