Gov. Edwards signs bill into law limiting the release of mugshots
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - There’s been some confusion recently over mugshots.
A few local sheriff’s departments are making policy changes after a bill that prohibits the release of mugshots for many lower-level crimes could become law any day now.
If you’re arrested for a crime, your mugshot is just a Google search away. But now if you do get into trouble, your face may not make it on the news.
On Tuesday, June 21 Governor John Bel Edwards signed House Bill 729 into law that limits the release and dissemination of booking photographs of an arrested person.
“Well, it’s complicated. And usually, when laws come out that are a little complicated, they have ramifications,” Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre said.
Officials posted to the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office Facebook page Monday, saying, “Mugshots published at time of arrest are now prohibited.”
So they wiped their entire website clean of people’s booking photos, but the website still includes people’s names, charges, and more for now.
“It was easier for us just to turn off the mugshot portion of our website, so we don’t have any confusion about the new law,” said Sheriff Webre.
A new bill by State Representative Royce Duplessis that passed through at the Capitol prohibits the release of mugshots for a lot of lower-level crimes.
“In America, we are entitled to the presumption of innocence, but a mugshot flies in the face of presumption of innocence,” said State Rep. Royce Duplessis (D), District 93.
But there are exceptions for anyone charged with crimes of violence and other serious crimes.
“They’ll be violent crimes that we’ll be able to use them on, there will be non-violent crimes that we can’t use booking photos on. So to run through that entire list of the criminal code will take some time,” said Webre.
Webre called the move ‘frustrating’ right now. And says other sheriffs are still figuring out the new rules as we speak, like in St James Parish where they posted a similar message on Facebook.
“But not only does the public have, you know maybe the right to see this, other law enforcement uses it too. To find out maybe who’s in jail you know. This is not about who’s wanted, but it’s a good database for us to be able to use,” said Sheriff Webre.
Local law enforcement agencies can still post pictures of people wanted for crimes, and people who are of interest to the agency for a crime.
“I would rather us being able to put that information out there, even if there was a disclaimer, everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” said the Sheriff.
Webre says his agency is also even looking at new technology which sorts all of this out for them.
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