Senate Bill 660 – Regulate Dissemination of Booking Photograph  

Sponsors: Senators Lazzara, Britt, Nickel, J. Johnson, Mohammed 

Mugshots, formerly Booking Photos, are everywhere; they are often plastered across online platforms, magazines, newspapers, and more. Under current North Carolina law, any record held by a public entity may be public record, including booking photos. Law enforcement agencies regularly provide information like arrest reports with corresponding mug shots to companies that publishes the information, often for financial gain.  

Unaccountable private companies are using public databases to blackmail people who have been arrested for anything, whether they get convicted or not. Some groups demand up to $1,000 to take a person’s photo down. Being on these websites can affect people’s job prospects, housing, and other opportunities–not to mention their reputation in the community. 

Private companies should not be able to exploit this information. Access to people’s likeness should be limited, and booking photos should be regulated appropriately so groups can’t use the information for financial gain at the expense of a person’s reputation and livelihood.  

Criminal justice reform advocates Quisha Mallette and Lauren Robbins discuss efforts to curb the predatory mug shot industry

Source: NC Policy Watch 

WHY WE NEED MUG SHOT RELIEF: 

  • Criminal records of all types (even dismissed charges) cause devastating “collateral consequences” for many of the 1 in 4 adults (more than 1.6 million North Carolinians) with criminal records.   
  • People of color are even more likely to face severe barriers to reentry and opportunity.  
  • People striving to lead prosperous, law-abiding lives face unnecessary, exclusions from jobs, homes, and other opportunities for years after exiting the criminal justice system.   
  • Unregulated publication of mugshots undermines Criminal Record Relief reform laws, such as expunctions.  

MAJOR COMPONENTs OF SENATE BILL 660 

  • The bill establishes that a booking photo is not a public record and that sheriff’s offices cannot provide a copy of booking photos in any format except for law enforcement purposes

A person seeking a mugshot must apply in writing and swear under penalty of perjury that the booking photo will not be placed in a publish-for-pay publication or on a publish-for-pay website. 

  • It requires publish-for-pay websites and publications to remove and otherwise destroy the booking photo of any person within 7 days if the charge was dismissed, ended in a not guilty, was expunged, or the grand jury found no true bill  

It creates ability to sue (and possible criminal liability) if the publish-for-pay company fails to remove and destroy the booking photo within the time-period. A harmed person can sue for damages at a minimum of one hundred dollars ($100) per day for each day after the seven-day deadline, plus court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees.  

Our reputation is all we have. No one should have to pay money to prevent exploitation. Contact your local lawmakers and encourage them to pass SB660.