La. bill that could prohibit the release of most mugshots draws mixed reactions


BATON ROUGE, La. - A bill in motion could keep someone’s mugshot private until they’re convicted.


Rep. Royce Duplessis said releasing mugshots of people before they have been found guilty of a crime is unfair and doesn’t serve any purpose.


The bill, known as HB 729, passed the Louisiana House of Representatives and headed to the Senate.


“What is the ultimate purpose of a mugshot? What’s the societal value of a mugshot,” Duplessis questioned.


Duplessis said the bill doesn’t completely ban mugshots, but it would limit them. Some special provisions would allow the release of a mugshot that would include a wanted fugitive or if someone is considered a danger to others.


Duplessis believes that a mugshot holds no social value outside of those circumstances.

“In America, we are entitled to the presumption of innocence, but a mugshot flies in the face of the presumption of innocence,” Duplessis said.


“In the digital age, these mugshots follow you around for the rest of your life, so even if you’re not convicted of the crime, or if charges get dropped, or if you get a not guilty verdict, that mugshot is still with you for who knows how long,” Peter Robins Brown, executive director at Louisiana Progress said.


Duplessis said this would affect the way news outlets report on crime.


He argued that you don’t need a mugshot to tell a story, but some media members disagree.

“Does a picture tell a thousand words? Because it does,” said Scott Sternberg.


Scott Sternberg is an attorney and represents Louisiana and Mississippi tv stations under Gray Media.


Sternberg argued those photos are considered public record and helps put a visual face on crime.


“People will see the mugshot and say, I see that person, or I have information about that person, or God forbid, that person assaulted me in college, but I didn’t know his name. Now someone can see their mugshot and knows exactly what that person looks like and could help in the prosecution,” Sternberg said.


Sternberg said he agrees with the bill's concept, but he believes it should remain the media’s choice whether they want to publish a mugshot or not.


“That should be their decision, not the government,” Sternberg said.


Sternberg argued those photos are considered public record and helps put a visual face on crime.

“People will see the mugshot and say, I see that person, or I have information about that person, or God forbid, that person assaulted me in college, but I didn’t know his name. Now someone can see their mugshot and knows exactly what that person looks like and could help in the prosecution,” Sternberg said.

Sternberg said he agrees with the bill's concept, but he believes it should remain the media’s choice whether they want to publish a mugshot or not.


“That should be their decision, not the government,” Sternberg said.

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