Proposed Bill Would Prohibit Release of Mugshots Prior to Conviction

Proposed Bill Would Prohibit Release of Mugshots Prior to Conviction

SWEETWATER COUNTY — A Rock Springs state legislator has submitted a bill that would prohibit the release of a person’s mugshot unless they have been convicted of a crime.

Representative Chad Banks (HD- 17) said he drafted House Bill 51 after he was approached by several constituents about the idea. After conducting some research, Banks created a bill similar to one in Utah. Senator John Kolb, R-Rock Springs, and Representative Andi LeBeau, D-Fremont County are co-sponsoring the bill.

HB51 would effectively limit the dissemination of photographs of arrested individuals taken during the admitting process.

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“In the past, mugshots haven’t been widely distributed, typically just a list of arrests,” Banks said. “With the rise of social and electronic media, mugshots have become a mechanism to really do little but shame and embarrass those who are likely having one of the worst days of their lives and often they are shared many times, practically going viral. I just see little value in that.”

Currently HB 51 states “…the Wyoming department of corrections and county jails shall not release a photograph taken of an arrested individual during the process of admitting the individual into custody unless:
(i)  The individual is convicted of a criminal offense based upon the conduct for which the individual was incarcerated at the time the photograph was taken;
(ii)  A judge orders the release or dissemination of the photograph based on a finding that the release or dissemination is in furtherance of a legitimate law enforcement interest; or
(iii)  A criminal justice agency requests the release of the photograph after determining that:
(A)  The individual is a fugitive or an imminent threat to an individual or to public safety; and
(B)  Releasing or disseminating the photograph will assist in apprehending the individual or eliminating the threat posed by the individual.”

Banks said the bill does allow the media to request access and does not impact mugshots that have already been disseminated online.

“In all honesty, with this being a budget session, I don’t foresee this bill moving too far, at least this year. However, I did want to propose it to start the discussion,” Banks said.  

However, if the bill were to be approved during this session it would go into effect on July 1, 2022. To view the bill in its entirety, click here.