Louisiana Law Limiting The Release Of Mugshots Online Faces Appeal

The Louisiana Senate Committee has advanced a bill to remove restrictions that prevent police from publishing booking photos of criminal suspects. The panel unanimously approved multiple measures on Tuesday. This shows that lawmakers have more stringent laws to propose even after, the special session dedicated to criminals.

This bill, introduced by Sen. Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport), would amend, a law passed in Louisiana two years earlier, which limits the use of arrestee and criminal suspect photos. The police can now release mugshots of criminal suspects and arrestees who are either fugitives or pose an imminent threat to public safety.

The law was drafted by Sen. Royce Duplessis (D-New Orleans), then a Louisiana House member, to curb what he believed were the long-term effects of a booking picture being made public and then disseminated by third-party mugshot websites. This is especially true for those who have been cleared, had their charges dropped were acquitted in a court of law, or are low-level criminals.

Seabaugh’s bill would repeal the law completely, but he stated Tuesday that he is willing to restore a section that restricts websites for profit from forcing users to pay money or any fee to remove their booking pictures.

It took an important tool from the law enforcement belt. Seabaugh said to members of Senate Committee of Judiciary C, “I think we should give it to them.”

Seabaugh stated that some sheriffs complained of the loss in manpower when they had to dedicate personnel to screening which pictures could be published which was an unintended side effect of the bill. The last thing we want to do is restrict law enforcement’s ability to protect the public.

He said, “In reality…it hasn’t really worked.”

Duplessis, in a message sent via text, said that he had worked closely with the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association and the media to pass the bill protecting the public. The law also preserves the presumption of innocence for those charged but not convicted of nonviolent crimes.

Duplessis stated that “once a digital photo is posted online, the image will remain there for eternity, even if someone was not convicted.” Why was this not discussed during the Crime Session if it were such a concern for public safety? Some sheriff’s departments don’t seem to like the inconvenience. This small inconvenience is not worth the benefits to society that this law brings, as other states have passed similar legislation.”

It remains to be seen how this legislation will ultimately play out in the Louisana chamber.