Like Looking at Mugshots? One Louisiana State Rep Wants to Make It Illegal
A State Representative from New Orleans wants to limit the ability of the public to see released mugshots in Louisiana. NOLA rep Royce Duplessis says it's a noble effort to prevent those who are innocent from the public embarrassment that publication of the photos can impose.
What Would His Bill Do, If Passed?
His House Bill 729 would prohibit law enforcement from releasing booking photographs in any format if it is believed that the mugshots will be published on a pay-for-publication or website.
Duplessis' proposal passed in the House Governmental Affairs Committee by an 11-1 margin and now heads to the House floor.
The Sponsoring Lawmaker Explains
“(The bill) will bar the media and any other digital publishers from publishing the mugshot of an arrested person prior to conviction, unless the person is deemed a fugitive or some other imminent danger to the public,” said Duplessis told Louisiana Radio Network.
Duplessis also suggested that the state should follow the example set at the federal level by the US Marshals Service which is the custodian of federal arrest records. “For a long time, they have prohibited the disclosure of mugshots prior to conviction, and they have deemed them an unwarranted invasion of privacy,” he told LRN.
And It Has Bipartisan Support
Rep. John Stefanski, a Republican, favors the legislation. The Crowley lawmaker, a lawyer, says that when he works on expungement cases, he tells his clients that once a mugshot is released it’s extremely difficult to have it removed from a website and it can follow a person for the rest of their life.
One Media Lawyer is Against It...Sort Of
But the idea is not without its opponents. Scott Sternberg, counsel for the Louisiana Press Association, argues that the bill is too broad. He advocates placing a charge on booking photos to eliminate the majority of mugshots released.
Sternberg says his idea "puts a little bit of a limit on the press right, because then we’re not going to buy a mugshot for some 'random John Q. Public.'"