House Bill 243 would end the practice of disseminating mugshots of juveniles charged with minor crimes, including the publication of those images on publicly maintained social media pages or websites. The bill includes an exception for situations where a juvenile is charged with a violent felony and the release of their photograph is necessary to protect the public’s safety.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously after doing the same in the House.
Last year, Governor Carney issued an executive order prohibiting executive branch law enforcement agencies, including the Delaware State Police and Capitol Police, from releasing juvenile mugshots, but there is no universal policy among Delaware’s 40-plus police agencies regarding publication of mugshots of minors.
|House Bill 243 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Cooke, Lynn, Longhurst, |
K.Johnson, Lambert, Minor-Brown, S. Moore Baumbach, Bentz, Brady, Heffernan,
K.Williams, Wilson-Anton Ramone
|House Passed 41-0. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Brady Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick||None|
|Lockman, Brown, Pinkney, |
S.McBride, Sokola, Townsend Lopez
|Senate Passed 21-0. Brown Ennis Gay Hansen Lockman Mantzavinos Paradee Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh Bonini Hocker Lawson Lopez Pettyjohn Richardson Wilson|
|Current Status:||Sent to Governor.|
“Releasing the mugshots of children and teens before they’ve ever had their case heard in court can have devastating consequences for young people well into adulthood,” said Sen. Brown. “Children deserve a chance to make amends before being branded online as a criminal for the rest of their lives.”
“Information that is posted on the internet lives on forever and can follow a person around for years,” said Rep. Cooke. “Worse, if charges are dropped, the mugshot of that juvenile lives on online, and the kid is associated with a crime they didn’t commit. I’m grateful to the support of my colleagues in passing this bill quickly to prevent these unnecessary side effects and end this hurtful practice.”
I wonder if there was any discussion of banning the publication of mugshots of all people (not just kids) arrested by police for alleged crimes. The publication of mugshots online stigmatizes individuals who have not been convicted of a crime and undermines the principle of presumed innocence. I think the practice should be discontinued, except when a suspect is a public figure, or an arrest is judged to be a public emergency. Major cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco no longer take booking photos or proactively publish mugshots.