Abuse of power

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Abuse of power, in the form of "malfeasance in office" or "official misconduct," is the commission of an unlawful act, done in an official capacity, which affects the performance of official duties. Malfeasance in office is often grounds for a for cause removal of an elected official by statute or recall election. Abuse of power can also mean a person using the power they have for their own personal gain.

Institutional abuse[edit]

Main article: Institutional abuse

Institutional abuse is the maltreatment of a person (often children or older adults) from a system of power.[1] This can range from acts similar to home-based child abuse, such as neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and hunger, to the effects of assistance programs working below acceptable service standards, or relying on harsh or unfair ways to modify behavior.[1]


James F. Amos[edit]

Main article: James F. Amos

Major James Weirick has alleged that Amos misused his power in the Video of U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban fighters case,[2] but the IG found that Amos "was reasonable under the circumstances".[3] Amos has said that he replaced Waldhauser only to ensure that whatever comments he had made did not cause unlawful command influence in the case.[4][5]

Joe Arpaio[edit]

Main article: Joe Arpaio

In February 2010, Judge John Leonardo found that Arpaio "misused the power of his office to target members of the Board of Supervisors for criminal investigation".[6]

In 2008, a federal grand jury began an inquiry of Arpaio for abuse of power, in connection with an FBI investigation.[7][8] On August 31, 2012, the Arizona US Attorney's office announced that it was "closing its investigation into allegations of criminal conduct" by Arpaio, without filing charges.[9]

Arpaio was investigated for politically motivated and "bogus" prosecutions, which a former US Attorney called "utterly unacceptable".[7][8] Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has called Arpaio's "long list" of questionable prosecutions "a reign of terror".[8]

Fa Zheng[edit]

Main article: Fa Zheng

Fa Zheng was appointed as the Administrator (太守) of Shu commandery (蜀郡) and "General Who Spreads Martial Might" (揚武將軍) by Liu Bei. He oversaw administrative affairs in the vicinity of Yi Province's capital Chengdu and served as Liu Bei's chief adviser.[10]

During this period of time, he abused his power by taking personal revenge against those who offended him before and killing them without reason. Some officials approached Zhuge Liang, another of Liu Bei's key advisers, and urged him to report Fa Zheng's lawless behaviour to their lord and take action against him. However, Zhuge Liang replied, "When our lord was in Gong'an (公安), he was wary of Cao Cao's influence in the north and fearful of Sun Quan's presence in the east. Even in home territory he was afraid that Lady Sun might stir up trouble. He was in such a difficult situation at the time that he could neither advance nor retreat. Fa Xiaozhi supported and helped him so much, such that he is now able to fly high and no longer remain under others' influence. How can we stop Fa Zheng from behaving as he wishes?" Zhuge Liang was aware that Liu Bei favoured and trusted Fa Zheng, which was why he refused to intervene in this matter.[11]

Monica Macovei[edit]

Main article: Monica Macovei

Monica Macovei was on several occasions accused of abuse of power in her position as Minister of Justice.[12] One such incident involved a comment she made on national television that reporters had no right to criticize her and her ministry and that they should pay attention to their own "problems with Romanian justice." Her comment appeared aimed at the director of the Romanian newspaper Ziua, Sorin Roşca Stănescu, who had been particularly vocal in making allegations against Macovei and who had admitted having been a collaborator of the communist secret police, Securitate.[13] Aidan White, president of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), criticized Macovei's assertion, saying that "Any journalist should be granted the presumption of innocence especially by the Minister of Justice."[14]

Police officers[edit]

In dictatorial, corrupt, or weak states, police officers may carry out many criminal acts for the ruling regime with impunity. Institutional racism has been found in modern police forces.[15][broken citation]

Individual officers, or sometimes whole units, can be corrupt or carry out various other forms of police misconduct; this occasionally happens in many forces, but is particularly problematic where police pay is very low unless supplemented by bribes.[16] Police sometimes act with unwarranted brutality when they overreact to confrontational situations,[17] to extract a confession from a person they may or may not genuinely suspect of being guilty,[18][broken citation] or in other circumstances. Instances of racism occur, even when the police force as a whole is not found to be racist.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Powers, J. L.; A. Mooney & M. Nunno (1990). "Institutional abuse: A review of the literature". Journal of Child and Youth Care 4 (6): 81. 
  2. ^ Londono, Ernesto; Nakashima, Ellen (16 November 2013). "Fight escalates over case involving Marines urinating on corpses". stripes.com. The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "Amos cleared of favoritism charge in urination video case". stripes.com. Stars and Stripes. 22 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  4. ^ Seck, Hope Hodge (17 February 2014). "Amos breaks silence on scout sniper scandal: 'I never said I wanted them crushed'". www.militarytimes.com. Gannett Government Media. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  5. ^ deGrandpre, Andrew; Seck, Hope Hodge (20 February 2014). "Plot thickens after Marine Corps commandant's interview with NPR". www.marinecorpstimes.com. Gannett Government Media. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  6. ^ Wingett, Yvonne (2010-02-25). "Supervisor cases collapse". Azcentral.com. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  7. ^ a b "Sources: FBI Investigating Joe Arpaio". KPHO. Oct 30, 2009. Retrieved July 10, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c Conder, Chuck (July 10, 2010). "Arizona sheriff under investigation for alleged abuse of power". CNN. Retrieved July 10, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Feds close criminal investigation into Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio". Fox News. August 31, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  10. ^ (以正為蜀郡太守、揚武將軍,外統都畿,內為謀主。) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  11. ^ (一飡之德,睚眦之怨,無不報復,擅殺毀傷己者數人。或謂諸葛亮曰:「法正於蜀郡太縱橫,將軍宜啟主公,抑其威福。」亮荅曰:「主公之在公安也,北畏曹公之彊,東憚孫權之逼,近則懼孫夫人生變於肘腋之下;當斯之時,進退狼跋,法孝直為之輔翼,令翻然翱翔,不可復制,如何禁止法正使不得行其意邪!」初,孫權以妹妻先主,妹才捷剛猛,有諸兄之風,侍婢百餘人,皆親執刀侍立,先主每入,衷心常凜凜;亮又知先主雅愛信正,故言如此。) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  12. ^ (Romanian) Ministrul anti-Justiţie,Ziua, 20 January 2007
  13. ^ "S. R. Stanescu: Am colaborat cu Securitatea". 
  14. ^ International Federation of Journalists
  15. ^ "Microsoft Word - Lawrence Inquiry.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  16. ^ "IPS: DRUGS-MEXICO: Police Caught Between Low Wages, Threats and Bribes". Ipsnews.net. 2007-06-07. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  17. ^ Edwards, Richard (2009-04-17). "Ian Tomlinson G20 protests death: police office faces manslaughter charge". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  18. ^ "The police often argue that the tough 'interviewing' of suspects is the best way to extract the truth. But such strategies are exactly the sort to provoke false confessions". New Scientist. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  19. ^ Malkin, Bonnie (25 March 2010). "Dozens of Australian police officers under investigation over racist and pornographic emails". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-05-22.