Michael Morisy

An increasing number of localities and states are exempting police mugshots from public disclosure, particularly as pay-to-takedown online mugshot collections are essentially using public records as a type of extortion tool (http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/08/mugshots/).

What legitimate uses of mugshots have you seen, and what counterarguments would you make to those trying to exempt these from release?

M.G. Lee

Legitimate uses of mugshots are most prevalent in news media and, of course, crime solving- a great recent example is from yesterday. An AP article on the recent shooting of Colorado’s DA featured a picture of the suspected killer, which happens to be a mugshot (http://abcnews.go.com/US/error-led-colorado-prison-chief-shooting-suspect-evan/story?id=18858510#.UVtVTuO4p5Q).

Though the practice of extortion using these public record is pretty unethical, these records are still public. There are many public records out there that hold information that’s sensitive and could be used as blackmail or to extort in the right circumstances, so why make an exception for one kind of record, even if a few scammers figured they could make a quick buck off of them? If one did enough digging they’d probably come up with more kinds of records they could use for extortion, and then a precedent of withholding more and more information that should be public is set.