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General News

Conservative Governors Take On the Mugshot Racket

Last week, a New York Times article titled “Mugged by a Mugshot Online” described the dubious business of mugshot extortion. Dozens of companies acquire the post-arrest mugshots — which are public records — of individuals who may or may not have been convicted. They then post the pictures on a website and charge a fee — sometimes in the hundreds of dollars — for removal.

Moreover, even the payment of the fee doesn’t necessarily stop a website’s owner from launching a new site, reposting the same mugshot, and demanding yet another fee for removal. Full Article

Join the discussion

  1. mike

    I believe the mugshot sites should be regulated to maintain a complete listing without a means for removal of anyone, like the database they’re extracting this sensitive information from. This would take away their incentives. If they’re caught with outdated or incomplete information they need to be fined heavily. Just need to beat them at their own game.

  2. Janice Bellucci

    I agree with you completely, Mike. If someone is going to publish a website with information regarding registered citizens, they have a responsibility to publish accurate information….and if they don’t, they should pay the consequences. What is even better, of course, if there are no such website….private or public….because unfortunately the public doesn’t know how to properly use that information. For some, the websites have become a list of targets to hunt.

    • Erik Donor

      What happened with the lawsuit CA RSOL filed against these websites? It was all over the news a few months ago, but I haven’t heard anything since.

  3. Tim

    I’m not as worried about mugshot sites as the spread of SORNA. If California adopts SORNA, or similar, a lot of people will have their registration frequency increased and maybe Meagan’s Law website exclusions reversed. And who knows what else will follow.
    Of the states that have adopted SORNA, almost all have Republican governors. Nothing brings both sides together better than tough on crime measures, though.
    At least the mugshot sites list other than sex crimes. I can’t believe there is much money there to extort from someone on the public registries. The government has already seen to that and limited our income potential by aggressive public notification laws. I think the politicians are more likely worried about big campaign donors being targeted. Many may have had a sordid past and groups like Anonymous or similar hackers can root them out. Bigger fish than us and more likely to pay out big to keep their ponds from being muddied.

    • Joe

      Apples and Oranges. California has actively declined to become AWA compliant, along with Texas and New York, plus 30 other states that have decided not to adopt it (in this form, at least). One wonders if the compliant states regret doing so, for financial reasons if no other.

      The real problem with these mugshot sites is two-fold, as I see it.

      1. They list former offenders that are no longer required to register, either for expiration of term or some other removal. I know several people listed on sites like sorarchives.com (formerly offendex.com). Which is why their tag-line reads “Current and Past”. The only way for these people to be removed is to pay their extortion fee. Fortunately they are being sued.

      2. Unlike the California Megan’s Law results, their listing will show in search engines. Same as others (like homefacts.com), but they are one of the few to offer removal for ransom. Which makes them extra evil.

  4. Tim

    Thanks for the comment. Could you tell me how the mugshot sites are getting the info in the first place? Are arrest records available to anyone. Are the records purged after some time? I know there is a who’s in jail site. What if someone posts information without asking for ransom, just to make someone’s life miserable. Is that legal? Couldn’t he say, hey it’s already public information. I had my name in a local paper. Paper online, archives searchable. Just search sex offender, thirty names appear, forever.

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