The Norman Transcript

Opinion

December 15, 2012

Mugshots are still open public records

NORMAN — Attorney General Scott Pruitt got it right in his ruling on police mug shots this week. Mr. Pruitt said the release of a mug shot does not constitute an invasion of privacy in most instances.

The fuss began when some publishers of mug shot magazines — those that only show photos and names of those booked into jail — asked for entire batches of mugshots from county jails around the state.

Some counties — including Cleveland County — balked at releasing them. They relied on a federal judge’s ruling that federal inmate mug shots were not matters of public record.

We’ve always believed booking photos are matters of public record. Storing them electronically and making them accessible to all keeps news photographers from chasing defendants between court appearances.

The Oklahoma Open Records Act specifically notes that a physical description of an arrestee is an open record. What better physical description exists than an actual photograph?

Mr. Pruitt’s opinion notes that the photo does not mean a person has been convicted. He or she has only been arrested and booked in the jail. Tell that to the mugshot magazines.

 

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