(Updated: Video, comments from Bend defense attorneys)
Bend attorneys welcomes state bill to limit police mugshot releases
SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – Oregon lawmakers passed a bill restricting the release of mugshots except in certain situations. Supporters say one photo should not determine your future, nor be used to harass someone. One Bend defense attorney says a mugshot can impact someone's employment ability to get housing, getting into school and their personal life.
"It's also even worse when we're talking about cases that are still going on. It creates prejudice in the community, and it ruins people's livelihoods," Colton Theer, defense attorney at Kollie Law Group, told NewsChannel 21 on Wednesday.
Theer also says mugshots hurt people's chances of re-entering society -- even after they've done their time.
"In reality, there are shades of grey in every single case," he said. "That's why pictures like this really hurt people -- and real people. If we ever want to make people better once they're done with being in trouble, and want them to be productive members of society -- these pictures are going to cause huge problems for them. They're never going to get out of it."
Another Bend defense attorney says it's common for clients to show concern that their mug shot is available to the public.
"I've seen what those mugshots cause -- significant negative impacts on people. It doesn't seem like that is really what should be happening, in a system that presumes innocence." said Bryan Donahue, managing attorney at Donahue Law Firm.
Donahue says the accessibility of these photos actually goes against our justice system. He says he looks forward to the governor signing the bill into law, so there is no longer space for what he calls "an extra-judicial system."
Here's more information from a news release issued by Oregon Senate Democrats:
House Bill 3273 will limit when jail booking photos can be released in order to prevent “doxing” and protect privacy.
Doxing is a general term used to describe a situation in which someone deliberately shares another individual’s private information on the internet with an intent to incite harassment. House Bill 3273 complements House Bill 3047, which was passed earlier this week and provides civil remedy to those who have experienced doxing.
The measure states that a booking photo can be released "to the public, if the law enforcement agency determines that there is a law enforcement purpose for the release, including but not limited to assistance with the apprehension of a fugitive or a suspect in a criminal investigation, or the identification of additional criminal activity."
“A photo can ruin your life,” said Senator James I. Manning Jr. (D-Eugene) who co-carried House Bill 3273 and is a former a law enforcement officer. “Disproportionately, those who are picked up by law enforcement are BIPOC Oregonians, folks who look like me. One photo should not determine your future.
"In addition, we’ve seen booking photos used to harass and intimidate individuals who have been exercising their right to peacefully assemble in the name of racial justice and it’s impacted their employment and their ability to exist and move freely in their communities.”
House Bill 3273 limits the circumstances in which booking photos may be released by law enforcement, while ensuring they can share these photos in order to locate a suspect or fugitive and maintain public safety as a priority.
The bill also requires that so-called “publish-for-pay” publications remove and destroy the booking photo image upon request. The bill provides that these publishers may assess a fee of no more than $50 and allows a person to file a civil suit for the failure to remove that image.
“These booking photos end up on predatory websites long before an individual is convicted of a crime, and have even been used to extort money from innocent individuals,” said Senator Floyd Prozanski, who co-carried the bill and chairs the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Measure 110 Implementation.
“Time and again, we have seen these photos distributed to cause harm and create bias against individuals. These photos can be important for law enforcement, but they shouldn’t harm one’s opportunity to succeed and contribute to their community."
House Bill 3273 now goes to the governor’s desk for her signature.