Tabloids of Felons: The Value of Online Mugshot Galleries

Just Busted and others of its ilk are becoming increasingly popular within the United States. Whether they serve the purpose of profit, political gain or just plain entertainment, these online mug-shot galleries have both their proponents and their protesters.

Some claim that these online galleries help keep communities safer while others scream that public shaming may have its place within our justice system but it cannot be at the cost of a fair trial. Also, more than a few of those defendants accused are innocent. While newspapers feature many crime stories on a daily basis, those published accounts are limited to the most serious and notorious of crimes. Just Busted does not distinguish between the severity of crimes as everyone arrested has a place on the pages of names, photos, and crime descriptions.

Just Busted is a weekly publication, which sells for one dollar. Unlike newspapers whose editors give the accused a chance to respond to charges, either personally or through an attorney, there is no such opportunity with this online publication and others. Defendants are immediately labeled as “public drinks,” “sticky fingers” etc, and with that practice comes the assumption of guilt.

Those behind the scenes at Just Busted admit that every once in a while they do make a mistake. In one instance, one defendant instituted a lawsuit against the online gallery because his picture was featured in the Sex Offender section. Despite this, the Tennessee-based weekly, which was founded in 2009, has reached a readership of more than 200,000 readers in three states.

Word travels fast and one Arizona sheriff known for his disregard of prisoners’ rights added a custom page to the county web site that features a daily mug shot contest!

Is this right?

Remember before you answer that in this great nation of ours people are still innocent until they are proven guilty.

Posted by M Dee Dubroff, on February 4, 2013 at 9:00 AM