It's Legal for Police to Post Mugshots on Facebook. But Is It Right?
A driver mows down six mailboxes, slurs her words and tells police she has a lizard in her bra. Throw in a wisecracking police officer, and what do you get? A flippant post on Facebook, along with photos of the woman, and of course, her lizard.
Not everyone is amused.
Police departments are increasingly using Facebook to inform the community about what they're doing and who they're arresting. Some add a little humor to the mix. But civil rights advocates say posting mugshots and written, pejorative descriptions of suspects amounts to public shaming of people who have not yet been convicted.
"It makes them the butt of a joke on what for many people is probably their worst day," said Arisha Hatch, campaign director of Color of Change, a civil rights advocacy organization that recently got Philadelphia police to stop posting mugshots on its Special Operations Facebook page.
"The impact of having a mugshot posted on social media for all to see can be incredibly damaging for folks that are parents, for folks that have jobs, for folks that have lives they have to come back to," she said.