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Hummel discusses new ‘no mugshot’ policy for prosecutors

(Adding video, comments from Hummel)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel has announced a new "no mugshot" policy for prosecutors working in his office, in an effort to promote equal justice for all.

In a Twitter post Monday afternoon, Hummel said his office is aiming to remove any "implicit bias," in order to treat every case with equity.

The DA told us Tuesday that mugshots may still be viewed by deputy district attorneys for specific reasons, such as observing injuries in an assault case.

Hummel said one his staff members recently approached him to ask whether mugshots were necessary prior to prosecuting the defendants in court.

"A member of my team came to me a few weeks ago and brought this to my attention," said Hummel. "I had to think for awhile, and I could come up with of very few examples where we actually need to look at a mugshot."

Certain case-specific instances will allow for the use of mugshots, but there will be a series of steps needed to gain access.

"I worked with my IT team and said, 'Let's bury this mugshot.' One, it doesn't pop up right away like it does now, and two, you have to go through many clicks and go into a kind of lockbox," Hummel said. "You are only going in there for a case-specific reason that you can articulate."

Hummel said he hopes that other law offices will follow suit in adjusting norms to facilitate a more equitable justice system.

The new policy does beg some questions, such as: What about implicit bias based on names? Or what if an employee watches the news and sees a suspect's mugshot?

Hummel also said he understands that this new policy cannot police every situation or entity, but believes they are headed in the right direction.

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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.


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