Open Oregon opposes HB 3273 for adding too much secrecy to the arrest process

Open Oregon has sent a letter to the members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Ballot Measure 110 Implementation regarding H.B. 3273. The bill would prohibit law enforcement agencies from releasing booking photos (“mug shots”) except in rare cases. 

Our letter reads, in part:

Open Oregon urges a no vote on this legislation. Government has the unique ability to take away someone’s bodily freedom and should never be allowed to do so in secret. Without a photo, it is impossible to fully identify an individual — be they an innocent citizen, a public school teacher, an elected official or a babysitter. It is in the general public’s interest to continue to make arrestee photos disclosable documents.

Our board’s media members say they have already changed their practices and rarely publish photos for low-level accusations. Additional regulation is not necessary.

According to our NFOIC colleague in Virginia, legislation like this was proposed there, but ultimately the legislature found that existing laws for extortion, computer threats and others were sufficient to combat the privacy violations. In Kentucky, in 2016, a law was passed to prohibit the commercial use of mugshots, which helped sidestep predatory websites. Those would be good alternatives to take here.

HB 3273 is slated for a work session May 24 at 8:30 a.m. and, depending on the outcome of that meeting, may have a public hearing after that.

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