2021 Bills

HB 228: Privatizing Booking Photos Until Conviction

To track the status of this bill, find it on our Legislation Tracker. Click here to contact the sponsor of the bill to share your thoughts, or click here to email your Senator and Representative about it.

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it aligns with our principles and should therefore be passed into law.

When a presumably innocent person’s mugshot is released to the public, it doesn’t matter if the charges get dismissed or if they’re guilty after all. In the public’s eyes, they’re guilty of whatever crime they’ve been accused of. And even after accusations die and the court process plays out, the mugshot will live on in the public-facing and everlasting internet, to the individual’s detriment.

Representative Keven Stratton is sponsoring House Bill 228 to put a stop to this practice. The bill would prevent police agencies from releasing booking photos to the public unless the individual is actually convicted of a criminal offense. This will ensure that when a booking photo is released, the person is actually convicted as guilty by the courts, not just in the court of public opinion which has the potential to ruin a person’s life forever.

The media will likely oppose this bill on the stance that this is an issue preventing the free press from doing their job in reporting. But in the age of Google and social media, if they need to find photos of an individual — without them in jail, with cold lighting, and “mugshot” plastered on the image — they likely can find them online. If not, it’s still not worth posting the individual’s booking photo all over the internet for anyone and everyone to see and make judgments on.