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Sheriff’s office stops posting booking photos

Move is to be in compliance with change in state law pertaining to mugshots
FILE PHOTO: Jackson County Jail. A group of jail inmates have recently asked for release due to worries over COVID-19.{ }

This week, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office stopped providing online access to mugshots of suspects being held in the county jail.

The Jackson County Jail website says, Adult In-Custody booking photos “will no longer be displayed on this website due to House Bill 3273,” which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

Law enforcement agencies across Oregon will no longer distribute booking photographs — also referred to using the more colorful term “mugshots” — of people who have been arrested.

The media will no longer receive mugshots in press releases about arrests, either.

HB 3273 does provide exceptions, such as when law enforcement is seeking public assistance in apprehending a suspect and to help identify additional criminal activity. A convicted person’s photo can be released to the public.

Only the photo taken for that specific crime can be used, however, according to the text of the enrolled version of the legislation.

The suspect can obtain a copy of his own photo. A victim and other parties involved “in a criminal proceeding” are among those who can also receive a mugshot.

The new rules do not have an effect on distribution among law enforcement and some other agencies, including use of a mugshot during admission of a suspect to the state mental hospital. The last mugshots made available on the website were from arrests early in the week.

“We stopped a little early to be sure we were complying,” said Aaron Lewis, public information officer for the sheriff’s office.

Personal information about a suspect’s age, height, weight, eye and gender remain on the jail’s roster.

This new law also creates rules for those who operate publish-for-pay products. They must comply with requests for removal and destruction of mugshots within 30 days. The deadline is reduced to seven days if the person making the request was acquitted, pardoned or otherwise not prosecuted for the crime.

They can no longer have “conditions” for these photos to be removed and are limited to charging no more than a $50 fee.

These publish-for-pay operators can be required to pay legal costs, including “reasonable attorney fees,” if they fail to comply. Statutory damages of up to $1,000 a day can also result if a publisher doesn’t take action.

This bill accompanied Oregon House Bill 3047, which established civil cause of action for improper disclosure of personal information to prevent “doxxing” — publicly revealing previously private personal information about an individual or organization.

Supporters have said these measures protect people from harassment and threats. The mugshot rule is also meant to further protect an individual’s right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, according to previous reporting about these changes in state law.