Arrested in Nashville, Tennessee? One of the routine procedures in the booking process is taking a mug shot. Here in Nashville, your picture appears in a magazine called Busted where all your friends can see your picture. Some newspapers even publish the mug shots like The Expositor in Sparta, Tennessee. The New York Times ran a story on the the sordid business of posting mugshots for profit. I thought I would share a celebrity mugshot. I think they are different from Joe Citizen since they are in the public eye.
These websites, newspapers and magazines rush out and publish these mugshot photos hoping to make a buck. Some police departments even publish the mugshots. The Nashville Police Department has, at times, published the photos of those arrested in a prostitution sting. It is my opinion this is done in hopes that publicly shaming the individual will prevent the person from doing it again or sends a message to others that if they do it, they run risk of having picture posted for all to see.
The issue that I have with law enforcement, news publications, magazines and other forms of media is that the individual is branded before they are convicted. Most minor criminal charges could possibly be dismissed or in some cases an action like judicial diversion, can be taken to avoid a criminal conviction. Those that have their case dismissed and expunged from their records still face public embarrassment even though the charges are dismissed. Some employers even Google or search the Internet for a potential hires’s name. Guess what might come up? Your mugshot from a case that was dismissed.
Some states are enacting laws to protect those that have their case dismissed. Oregon and Georgia are working on laws that require the website to take a photo down within 30 days if that person’s charge was dismissed. Utah is working on a law that would not allow a mugshot to be used on a site that charges a fee to take it down.
News groups are fighting any laws that limit the restriction on mugshots. Why? Mugshots of a famous person sells papers and drives website traffic. They do not want to stop a mugshot from being released because doing so could mean losing money.
The dirty secret is the money that these websites make. Now, there are companies that charge a fee to remove your mugshot. It reminds me of a three card monty game. Put it up, then charge to take it down.
Should Tennessee regulate mug shots? I believe Tennessee should regulate mug shots. Release the mugshot after a conviction. My other problem is the double standard. Some records are public, but sometimes the police will not give up police reports to a defense attorney. The trade off is what is real news versus exploitation of a person facing a minor offense?