Mug shots to be banned from public access after bill passes Utah Senate

File photo by gorodenkoff/ iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Senate has unanimously voted in favor of a bill that would ban police from releasing mug shots until a person has been convicted of a crime.

Jail Photo Distribution Prohibition, designated HB 228 and previously reported in an article by St. George News, passed Wednesday after being proposed by GOP Rep. Keven Stratton. It aims to make mug shots a private record to limit their impact on people’s lives — especially for those who are falsely accused or never found guilty.

The bill would allow the photos to be released if a suspect is an “imminent threat” or a wanted fugitive. Florida, Delaware and North Dakota introduced similar measures this year after Illinois passed one in 2020.

Criminal justice reformers say the use of mug shots perpetuates an unfair association between people of color — who historically are arrested at higher rates — and crime.

But some members of the news media, which often fights for access to public records, have opposed the effort, arguing that the photos can serve as a check on law enforcement and the decision to publish mug shots should be left to news outlets.

The Utah bill was signed Wednesday by the speaker and is moving to the governor’s desk.

Written by SOPHIA EPPOLITO, Associated Press/Report for America.

For a complete list of contacts for Southern Utah representatives and senators, click here.

Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2021 Utah Legislature here.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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