California Newspaper Joins Growing Number of Publications No Longer Publishing Mugshots

A California newspaper announced it will no longer publish mugshots publish, joining other publications who have chosen to do the same.

"Publishing these photographs and videos disproportionately harms people of color and those with mental illness, while also perpetuating stereotypes about who commits crime in our community," a Sacramento Bee reporter said in an article Thursday.

"The policy is effective immediately and will be applied moving forward," the article stated.

Lauren Gustus, the president of the Sacramento newspaper, said the publication has taken steps to "work against long-standing stereotypes" and is working to "elevate the voices of emerging writers from communities we have long underserved."

"Building trust takes time. Our intention with this policy change is to take another step forward," Gustus said.

Newsweek contacted the Sacramento Police Department for comment, but did not receive a response back in time for publication.

The San Francisco Police Department announced earlier this month it would not release most mugshots, except in cases where the public is in "imminent danger." Police Chief William Scott said in a July 1 press release the decision came because as mugshots foster "racial bias" as they spread through the media.

"This policy emerges from compelling research suggesting that the widespread publication of police booking photos in the news and on social media creates an illusory correlation for viewers that fosters racial bias and vastly overstates the propensity of black and brown men to engage in criminal behavior," the police chief said at the time.

"By implementing this groundbreaking new policy today, SFPD is taking a stand that walks the walk on implicit bias while affirming a core principle of procedural justice — that those booked on suspicion of a crime are nonetheless presumed innocent of it," Scott said.

The Sacramento Bee joins other publications who have already decided to stop releasing mugshots. The Orlando Sentinel in Florida stated in a June 12 article it would stop posting mugshot galleries because they have "little journalistic value and may have reinforced negative stereotypes."

Mark Lorando, the managing editor at the Houston Chronicle, told staff that the paper would no longer be posting mugshot galleries earlier this year, according to a tweet from Chris Tomlinson, a columnist at the publication.

No more mugshot galleries on @HoustonChron. “Not what we want to be known for” says @MarkLorando Staff applauds.

— ChrisTomlinson (@cltomlinson) January 23, 2020

"No more mugshot galleries on [Houston Chronicle]. 'Not what we want to be known for,' says Mark Lorando. Staff applauds," Tomlinson wrote in a January 23 tweet.

The news drew praise from the Harris County Sheriff's office. Jason Spencer, the public affairs director at the sheriff's office said the Houston Chronicle was "doing the right thing."

Thank you, @HoustonChron for doing the right thing. I'm hopeful that other media outlets and law enforcement agencies will follow your lead and rethink the practice of publicly shaming arrested people who haven't been convicted of a crime. https://t.co/xgFO5UZEPb

— Jason Spencer (@JSpencer_HCSO) January 23, 2020

"I'm hopeful that other media outlets and law enforcement agencies will follow your lead and rethink the practice of publicly shaming arrested people who haven't been convicted of a crime," Spencer said.

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Police car - Stock photo. Getty/Matt Gush