Innocence Project Supports Gov. Cuomo’s Proposed “Mugshot Ban”

01.28.19 By Innocence Staff

Innocence Project Supports Gov. Cuomo’s Proposed “Mugshot Ban”

The Innocence Project supports Governor Cuomo’s proposal to amend the State’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to ban the public disclosure of booking information and mugshots, which law enforcement agencies collect when making an arrest. Gov. Cuomo introduced the amendment in an effort to restrict the unwarranted intrusions on personal privacy that having this information readily accessible to the public promotes.

Though many Americans share the assumption that a person’s mugshot only becomes available when a person is found guilty of a crime—or that a person’s mugshot is synonymous with their guilt—oftentimes that is not the case. But in making this assumption, many disregard that a person may be arrested, booked and later acquitted. Despite being cleared of the crime, their mugshots are often still available for the world to see, subjecting them to the undue collateral consequences that follow.

Our own cases of innocent people being exonerated of crimes they did not commit are stark reminders that, even after one’s arrest and conviction, one’s guilt should not immediately be presumed. For those who are found to be innocent, whether pre-trial or post-conviction, these individuals are forced to live with the stigma of having a mugshot readily available to the public—which, in many cases, equates to the assumption they were found guilty of having committed a crime. The assumption of their criminality could impact their personal relationships, ability to obtain employment and/or housing and beyond.

Governor Cuomo’s proposed amendment is similar to policies that the federal government and five states (NJ, GA, WA, MT and KS) have already enacted to restrict the public disclosure of booking photos and information. It is our hope that New York follows suit.

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James Essex January 29, 2019 at 11:38 pm Reply   

I agree. Too may people are preumed “Guilty” before being found Innocent. The system of Justice promotes this process, if unjust in itself.

I a person accuses you of committing a crime, is NOT justification for a police officer, or detective to automatically take you into custody, book you and put you in a jail cell, until a court date.
If innocent before guilty, is a RIGHT, then there should be an arbitration process in place, if there is disputable evidence, to the fact.

Too many people have lost their lives, been imprisoned, have their lifestyle ruined, prior to being found guilty or or innocent !!

Too many law enforcement officials, prosecutors, people in an authoritative persoition, may use their position, in a prejudiced, bias, emotionally motivated way that only suffices their ego, and destroys Innocent Human lives.

Mara Owen January 29, 2019 at 1:55 am Reply   

In Indiana some residents subscribe to an ap that automatically sends them the latest mug shots & information on whomever in the county (it may include other counties – I don’t really know) has been arrested. So much for being innocent until proven guilty or an individual pleads guilty. In certain situations, the rumor mill gets into overdrive, which can be terribly damaging to the person who is going through this ordeal – whether innocent or guilty. It seems cruel because it can emotionally scar someone for life not to mention have devastating consequences prior to the full story is told. Then again, between the information being made public & the rumor mill, it can prejudice potential jurors.

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