The Mugshot Industry

A Marshall Project report on the uniquely American practice of publishing mug shots, even those of individuals never charged or later found innocent. As the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said last year in denying a newspaper’s request for U.S. Marshals’ booking photos: “Mugshots now present an acute problem in the digital age. These images preserve the indignity of a deprivation of liberty, often at the (literal) expense of the most vulnerable among us.”

In Illinois, a potential class action suit has been filed against “mugshots.com” describing the site as an extortion racket that, among other things, deliberately and routinely published inaccurate information in order to drive people to a prominently advertised “sister” site — unpublisharrest.com — where, for removal services, they spent anywhere from $399 (for a single arrest) to $1,799 (for five).

As one of the attorneys in the suit said, “They were deliberately trying to use this information as a cudgel to beat people with because they are desperate enough to pay that kind of money,”

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