Online mug shots: Guilty till proven innocent?

Online mug shots: Guilty till proven innocent?

Is “shaming” good criminal justice?

Many of those who operate so-called mug shot websites and take-down services would probably say yes. As Susanna Kim reports for ABC News, Web businesses are making money off of people who have been arrested for things like impaired driving, posting the freely-available mug shots online, despite the fact that a mug shot is not evidence of guilt.

In other words, people are paying a price for a crime they’ve been accused, but in many cases have not been proven, to have committed. “First, it’s close to extortion,” says one law professor, as Kim reports, “although not quite because there is not a threat to harm reputation, but to improve it. Second, it’s fraudulent in the sense that there is little value in paying to have the mug shots removed from the commercial site when they can be googled on a sheriff’s department website.”

Nonetheless, it seems that certain people are being targeted and profiled. White, blonde women, reports Kim, are frequent targets, and are said to be eager to pay to have their mug shots removed after a DWI arrest.

What do you think? If you were arrested for drunk driving, but you were ultimately found not-guilty, would you be okay having your mug shot distributed across the Internet?

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