Is “shaming” good criminal justice?
Many of those who operate so-called mug shot websites and take-down services
would probably say yes. As Susanna Kim reports for ABC News, Web businesses
are making money off of people who have been arrested for things like
impaired driving, posting the freely-available mug shots online, despite the fact that
a mug shot is not evidence of guilt.
In other words, people are paying a price for a crime they’ve been
accused, but in many cases have not been proven, to have committed. “First,
it’s close to extortion,” says one law professor, as Kim reports,
“although not quite because there is not a threat to harm reputation,
but to improve it. Second, it’s fraudulent in the sense that there
is little value in paying to have the mug shots removed from the commercial
site when they can be googled on a sheriff’s department website.”
Nonetheless, it seems that certain people are being targeted and profiled.
White, blonde women, reports Kim, are frequent targets, and are said to
be eager to pay to have their mug shots removed after a DWI arrest.
What do you think? If you were arrested for drunk driving, but you were
ultimately found not-guilty, would you be okay having your mug shot distributed
across the Internet?