If this photo were published in the newspaper at time of arrest, is there a person in his potential jury pool who viewed it who would not be immediately prejudiced against him?
Is there anyone out there who can honestly argue that they think he's innocent?
But of what crime should we send him up the river?
It doesn't matter. Shoplifting? Guilty. Aggravated murder? Without doubt. Treason? Where's the noose?
We've already decided his fate. Based upon the preliminary evidence presented by the local newspaper and a more-than-willing law enforcement establishment. Before he's been given the opportunity to defend himself before a jury of his peers.
That's why this is wrong. So wrong:
Mug shots are public recordsAs long as it would not compromise an ongoing investigation? How about prejudicing his potential judges? Take another look at that mug shot above and tell me you're not prejudiced by it. And you may be sitting in judgment tomorrow. Is that fair?
Roanoke Times editorial
Virginia's Freedom of Information Act provides residents with access to their government. Officials generate documents and information in the course of governing, and the people get to see them. It is that simple.
A couple of years ago, [Roanoke Sheriff Octavia] Johnson decided she did not want to turn over a picture of someone who had been arrested. That initial denial raised eyebrows, but it was the subsequent policy decree that led to lawsuits. The sheriff decided, contrary to the FOIA law, that all mug shots of inmates who are not in custody of the jail would remain secret.
The sheriff's department is a government agency. Like it or not, and Johnson clearly does not, when it generates records, including mug shots, they belong to the public not just to her and her deputies. The people have a right to review them as long as their release would not compromise an ongoing investigation. [link]
Here's where I consider myself to be to the left of the commie ACLU. I don't think the government should be allowed to release any information about accused (even arrested) individuals until they've been given the chance to prove their innocence.* The release of information to the public is, in itself, a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Especially when that person accused is subsequently to be found innocent of all charges.
Ask Ray "Which office do I go to get my reputation back?" Donovan about that.
So be careful. Yes, the people have every right to know what their government is up to. But it has to be balanced with the civil rights of individuals accused of criminal activity.
Key word being ACCUSED.
* I make an exception where an individual may be an immediate risk to the community.