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Oregon Bans Pre-Conviction Mugshot Public Disclosure

by Mark Wilson

Oregon’s new law restricting the publication of booking photos without a criminal conviction went into effect on January 1, 2022.  

During the 2021 legislative session, Oregon lawmakers passed House Bill 3273 prohibiting public disclosure of booking photos, commonly known as mugshots, except in a few limited circumstances, to protect the identity of people who have not been convicted of a crime. The booking photo may be publicly disclosed following the person’s conviction if the conviction results from the arrest during which the booking photo was obtained.

The bill was introduced by Democratic representatives Jonelle Bynum and Bill Witt in response to people being negatively impacted by doxing—publicly disclosing an individual’s personal information like address and phone number for harassment purposes—during 2020 criminal justice reform protests. Some doxing incidents involved the public disclosure of mugshots, according to Bynum.

“It’s time for our society to move past them,” Bynum, Chair of the House Judiciary, testified in support of the legislation. “The day someone gets arrested can quite frankly be one of the worst days of their lives. Those mugshots are sometimes of people in a mental health crisis. Those photos that are published can ruin a person’s life who has not yet been found guilty of any crime. They can linger on and impact people’s lives for years to come. We can do better for them and for us.”

The legislation requires law enforcement agencies to remove mugshots from their jail rosters. It also requires publish-for-pay publications to remove and destroy booking photos within 30 days of request and prohibits the publication from charging more than a $50 removal fee. A companion bill, HB 3047, which was also sponsored by representative Bynum and went into effect on June 15, 2021, authorizes individuals to bring doxing civil suits.

A law enforcement agency may release booking photos under HB 3273 to: the person depicted in the photo; another law enforcement agency or officer, for a law enforcement reason; the public, if the law enforcement agency determines that there is a law enforcement purpose for release, including assistance in apprehending a fugitive or a suspect in a criminal investigation, or the identification of additional criminal activity; a state mental hospital if the person depicted in the photo is admitted to the hospital; a person in a criminal proceeding following their arrest when the booking photo was taken; and a victim/survivor of the offense for which the person in the booking photo was arrested.  

Source: HB3273, Statesman Journal


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