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Question of the day

Friday, Nov 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

In an effort to protect the privacy and reputation of individuals in Illinois, state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago, has introduced a measure that will allow people with low-level charges to see their day in court before their police photograph or mug shot is posted online.

“In our communities, too many people are falsely arrested and later have charges against them dropped. Posting their arrest photo online creates a false narrative and paints these individuals as criminals, even if they are never proven guilty,” said Ford. “An online mug shot of an innocent person can ruin a person’s life and destroy families. This practice is unfair and unjust, and must be changed.”

Ford introduced House Bill 5998 on Thursday. This corrective measure will make it unlawful for a mug shot to be shared publicly unless an individual is convicted, providing privacy for innocent individuals as they navigate the criminal justice system. The bill also works retroactively and would require current mug shots to be taken down if a person was not guilty or had their charges dropped. There is also a caveat in the legislation that would require websites to take down photos of people who provide an order to expunge or seal their criminal information.

“This measure allows people to truly be innocent until proven guilty, and not simply tried in the court of public opinion,” said Ford. “Information posted online can be accessed by millions of people instantly and once it is on the internet it can be captured and used forever. This history can cause huge hardships on innocent individuals who are searching for employment, housing, and many other necessary things in life. This legislation will prevent people from continually facing discrimination for a crime that they did not commit.”

* The Question: Agree or disagree with the sponsor? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…

survey tool


  1. - Been There - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 1:46 pm:

    This should have been law a long time ago. It was one thing back in the day to print it in a newspaper. But having it out on the web forever no matter what is just plain wrong.

  2. - Dome Gnome - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 1:47 pm:

    Yes, I agree. Criminal justice nuances are often lost on the general public. This would prevent misunderstandings and possibly even save jobs & relationships.

  3. - MSIX - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 1:52 pm:

    No brainer. Public shaming of potentially innocent people serves no legit purpose.

  4. - Em - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 1:53 pm:

    I voted yes because I really agree with the underlying idea, but I think they need to proceed carefully and get this right. I do worry that police may find a workaround and just post photos of the person they get from elsewhere, such as social media. If there’s a story with a photo of the person, mugshot or otherwise, then the damage is still done. At the same time, police need to be able to get photos of potential suspects out there when they are trying to find someone.

  5. - MSIX - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 1:53 pm:

    It’d be helpful if those who disagree would post their reasoning.

  6. - Wow - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 1:56 pm:

    I disagree. There are serious 1st Amendment issues with this idea.

  7. - wordslinger - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 1:56 pm:


    Right out of college, I worked for a paper that was quick to publish photos and stories on those charged with rinky-dink crimes for filler, but didn’t always care to follow up to adjudication. It was irresponsible journalism and unfair.

  8. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 1:59 pm:

    Agree 100%. Also tremendous idea to include expunged or sealed records

  9. - Anonymous - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:02 pm:

    So no mug shots of anyone arrested?

  10. - The Historian - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:02 pm:

    This is a GREAT proposal, long overdue. Folks should take note too (I presume they still exist) of scam firms that vacuum up such photos & repost them (on multiple web pages) with an invitation for the victims (& I DO mean victims) to pay-up for their removal, from one–and said payment of course then encourages more REposting. Great kudos to this legislator!

  11. - Demoralized - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:03 pm:

    ==There are serious 1st Amendment issues with this idea.==

    Care to elaborate?

    I agree. There is no reason to post a mug shot right away.

  12. - TheGoodLieutenant - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:03 pm:

    Absolutely agree for two bit misdemeanors.

  13. - Demoralized - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:03 pm:

    ==So no mug shots of anyone arrested?==

    Read it again and answer your own question.

  14. - Unionman - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:04 pm:

    No. This is unconstitutional. The press has a right to report the news. It also has the responsibility to report the truth of the news. I think that the press should take a pledge to correct and remove information once it has been determined.

  15. - 47th Ward - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:05 pm:

    These are public records. Like it or not, if you’ve been arrested the public has a right to know about the charges.

    Who decides which charges are low-level? Who’s going to pay for someone to go through web sites deleting photos? This is a well-intended nightmare of a bill.

    But it might get him a few votes for Mayor.

  16. - A Jack - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:08 pm:

    I agree. There are unscrupulous websites that collect mug shots and then blackmail people to get those mug shots removed even if the person was never charged.

  17. - RollCall - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:09 pm:

    This legislation will only truly work if there is a private right of action for any harmed individuals to hold their wrongdoers financially accountable for their actions; the same goes for the government having the ability to enforce as well.

  18. - Wow - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:15 pm:

    Supreme Court has already ruled on the press right to publish. The legislature passed a bill this session going after the folks who “charge” to take down mug shots. They had to remove the section about the press n police posting.

  19. - don the legend - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:22 pm:

    I bet Nick Nolte agrees.

  20. - Archpundit - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:28 pm:

    ===here are serious 1st Amendment issues with this idea.

    No, there are not. These are currently public records and such a law would simply classify them as not public records. All of the arrest and charging information would still be available to those who want to look them up, but the pictures are what draw people’s attention and would only be made public once there is a conviction. I don’t see what public information value is in posting mug shots for those not yet convicted with probably an exception for public safety if the picture is needed to warn the public of a particular person.

  21. - Bourbon Street - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:29 pm:

    I disagree. Though very well-intentioned, in my opinion, the bill constitutes government interference with the press’ ability to decide what is newsworthy.

  22. - Archpundit - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:30 pm:

    Oops, misread what he introduced. Yes, there is a 1st Amendment issue.

    The way to pass the law and pass 1st Amendment criteria is simply to not make the pictures as public records until conviction a move I would support.

  23. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:30 pm:

    I agree with the sentiment, but think press freedom would supersede the individual’s rights here. The fact of an arrest is a matter of public record. In certain cases, publishing a photo of an arrestee may also prompt other victims to come forward, so some good can come out of it. I am very sympathetic to those who are ultimately acquitted or have the charges dropped, however. Unfortunately, it’s the same phenomenon as the news story is on the front page but the correction is buried by the classifieds.

  24. - Anonymous - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:34 pm:

    Would the bill allow for certain times when the picture could be shown beforehand? Say if more perpetrators are sought and the police are looking for information regarding the suspect in custody? Or perhaps in instances of suspected rapists, where victims could come forward with new evidence?

  25. - HCMcB - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:36 pm:

    === I bet Nick Nolte agrees.===

    The infamous Nolte photo was not a mug shot. It was taken outside a hospital by a guy with his own camera.

  26. - Trapped in the 'burbs - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:39 pm:

    People can be acquitted, expunge and seal their record but the images and stories are on the internet forever. In Europe there is a push to require search engines like google and other websites to redact personal information in these circumstances. Generally called the right to be forgotten, it would be wonderful if we can create a process for those accused but not convicted to be free from the adverse consequences of an arrest which didn’t result in a conviction.

  27. - OneMan - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:45 pm:

    Seems like kind of a no-brainer to me, what is the value of making these available to the public for someone who has just been charged?

  28. - Boone's is Back - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:48 pm:

    I think the bill is fair. I just don’t know how you get around FOIA since it’s technically public information.

  29. - A Jack - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:51 pm:

    I will go further and say no one’s mug shot should be out there unless they are a convicted sex offender or a first degree murderer. We should be allowing a person convicted of an offense like drug possession complete their time and get on with their life. There is no reason to have a conviction hanging over their head forever. It is counter to having them become productive members of society.

  30. - 47th Ward - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:54 pm:

    ===what is the value of making these available to the public for someone who has just been charged?===

    Not sure this answers your question, but police have aggressively publicized the names and photos of men arrested for soliciting prostitution. It was used as a means of discouraging other men, apparently, although it’s pretty unsavory. I doubt there’s any evidence that it was successful, but I mean sure some people were happy about it.

    I’m not necessarily agreeing, but other folks thought there was value to the public in these particular cases.

  31. - Anonymous - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 3:03 pm:

    I like this a a lot, just because you are charged does not mean you have to give up your right to privacy and should be shamed. This is a terrific idea.

    We need more of this in criminal justice reforms.

  32. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 3:04 pm:

    To add to my other comment about posting mug shots to encourage victims to come forward, the practice could also encourage witnesses to come forward as well. A witness could just as well come forward and say “Hey, that’s the guy!” as say “Hey, that’s not the guy!”

  33. - Anonymous - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 3:12 pm:


    Having a mugshot published flies in the face of innocent until proven innocent.

  34. - Stuff Happens - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 3:16 pm:

    Why do you need a mug shot? And readers certainly don’t need a home address, which is also often listed.

  35. - don the legend - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 3:19 pm:

    To HCMcB> I stand corrected.

    From Yahoo entertainment: After his arrest, he was sent to a nearby hospital for blood tests and a local police officer asked if he could snap a photo of the wild-haired Nolte.

  36. - Lobo - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 3:22 pm:

    So, the rep would also ban the names of the accused? I don’t need a photo to ID a person charged. Just the photos? I assume he’s exempting policemen accused of misconduct? Arrest reports are not going to be public documents?

  37. - Responsa - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 3:52 pm:

    It seems to me there is a long and hazy line between “arrested” and “convicted” that is not vetted in LaShawn’s measure. What constitutes low-level? Does every arrest which does not end with a guilty verdict or conviction in a court of law automatically mean the arrestee was not a danger or did not commit the crime? Or can it perhaps simply mean that the court system was too busy to proceed with every crime or that the police did not not get the cooperation from frightened victims or witnesses that was necessary to prosecute? I do not think this proposal has a slam dunk answer when one actually takes the time to consider many of the aspects and possible repercussions of not having mugshots publicly available for other victims to see and realize that was the same person (whose identity was previously unknown) who carjacked me or robbed my cab too, or assaulted my teen, or stole merchandise from my store or vandalized my property.

    The concept has merit as has been pointed out in the comments here, but is too drastic and needs work in order for me to agree with it.

  38. - Generic Drone - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 3:58 pm:

    Absolutely agree. It serves no purpose to post mug shots of innocent folks.

  39. - MG85 - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 4:07 pm:

    I voted yes, but I have a question over who the law is restricting. Is it restricting the government from posting the mugshot online or everyone?

    If the restriction is limited to the government, then I support the idea.

    If the restriction is beyond the government and to the media, then I still don’t see this as an infringement, outright, on the 1st Amendment because it limits to posting online, not publishing in other venues. For an online blogger, that could be troublesome, but newspapers have paper they can still print. Of course, they will have to go through the FOIA process to get the mugshot if they cant obtain it through the current process.

    So, it seems tricky on the 2nd path but I still support the measure.

  40. - A Jack - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 4:13 pm:

    The police and the press were able to do their job long before there was an Internet. If police departments actually want mug shots posted, I would put the burden on them to collect statistics on how many people come forward after the posting of a mug shot. I suspect that few people have the time to surf mug shots.

  41. - A Jack - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 4:22 pm:

    The press had no problem acquiring or publishing the mug shot of John Dillinger well before there was an Internet.

    We are talking about online mug shots in this bill, not pictures taken by security cameras which I suspect is much more useful since the perpetrator hasn’t been arrested yet.

  42. - Petey - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 4:25 pm:

    This is long overdue. Some are arrested and then never convicted or charged. Even potential jurors can be affected just by seeing a mugshot from TV, etc.
    I am concerned how those Edgar Co. watchdogs will keep their jobs without mugshots to try and embarass and attack people??😳

  43. - Jerry - Monday, Dec 3, 18 @ 9:36 am:

    I think because the access to such info is so much more now than in the past, this would be an appropriate idea which just carries on the “innocent until proven guilty” doctrine.

  44. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 3, 18 @ 1:41 pm:

    you’re innocent until convicted.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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