Law that limits mugshot releases goes into effect in Oregon this week

Booking photos will no longer be released to the public in Oregon, in an effort to protect the privacy and safety of people who have not been convicted of a crime.

The law prohibits the release of mugshots except in specific circumstances, such as to other law enforcement agencies and to the public in the case of an emergency.

Proponents of the law said that releasing mugshots before a conviction can have serious safety issues. After the 2020 protests in Portland, many people who were arrested were doxed, which means they were publicly identified or had private information about them published, and harassed when their photos were released, according to state Representative Janelle Bynum (D, HD-51, Happy Valley).

Bynum sponsored the measure. She said that after working on a bill about doxing, she realized how dangerous the release of booking photos could be to people’s safety.

“When law enforcement agencies were releasing booking photos, people were also suffering harm from that,” said Bynum. “They were getting threats at their jobs, they were trapped inside of their homes because people were intimidating them.”

Holding cells

File photo of holding cells in Josephine County. Dave Blanchard / OPB

Bynum said the release of mugshots was also disproportionately affecting people with mental health challenges.

“One police chief said, it’s often the worst day of a person’s life. And we agreed as a group that those people were somebody’s somebody and we could do better as a community.”

Tom Bivins, a professor at the University of Oregon, said the new law helps to protect people’s privacy.

“It used to be you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty,” said Bivins. “I was reading an article from, I want to say, The Atlantic the other day. That basically said in today’s environment, in the social media environment, you’re no longer innocent until proven guilty, you’re guilty until you can prove you’re innocent.”

Law enforcement groups helped craft the legislation and it passed with bipartisan support.

Posted at OPB by Sophia Prince on 11-2-21

Date: 2021-11-03 08:19

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