Of course newspapers across the state are jumping on this. Of course I am going a bit further by calling New York State Senator Joseph Robach (Republican-Greece, Monroe County) an idiot.
In case you missed it, last Tuesday morning I was interviewed on the Bob Lonsberry show (WHAM-AM) on the topic of a bill in the state legislature that would restrict access to police mug shots until a person has been convicted.
Since our inception, a quarter century ago, the Times has been up front about posting police reports and mug shots on those charged with misdemeanor, or felony charges. We have also let it be known that anyone can call and have a retraction if a case is either dismissed, or they are found innocent. I can count on one hand the number of calls we have received.
Robach, a Republican, in liberal democrat sheep’s cover, would like to change the criminal procedure law to allow police to release a mug shot, only upon the person’s conviction. My guess is either Robach has a personal agenda, is doing a back-handed favor (tit for tat) for some Democrat legislation, or is just plain goofy.
So, how did this all start? In several other states, legislation has been presented and passed requiring some sleazy national websites to remove mug shots without a fee attached. Some internet jerks have found that by posting a mug shot to a website and garnering attention, they can charge the people arrested and photographed a huge fee to remove the mug posting, or face the humiliation of being forever posted. This can be a problem for someone either found innocent, or who had their arrest expunged. They are permanently branded and have a hard time finding jobs, etc. Robach wants NY to go one step further, just like the legislature did with the Safe Gun Act. He also feels it would be too tough for people with mug shots to get a job in the future.
This is not what most legitimate media use mug shots for. The public has the right to know if a serial rapist, sex abuser, killer, bank robber, stalker etc. lives next door. If we have to wait (up to a year, or more for a conviction), this ties the hands of the media and the public’s rights.
Robach apparently feels Freedom of the Press, 1st Amendment, and access to public records is limited to what he feels we have the right to know.
Mug shots in this paper have led to further arrests in many, many cases. Ask every police agency in the county, a week does not go by when someone arrested is in more fear of their mug shot and story appearing in the Times, than the actual arrest.
This week a multi-convicted shoplifter bemoaned the fact that her mug shot would appear in the Times. Store owners appreciate knowing when she and other arrested shoplifters enter their facility.
My fear is that stupid Robach and his future cronies are only beginning their quest for protecting the arrested. Next, the names and arrests should not be released until a conviction! No DNA, no nothing, protect the criminals at all costs. Bad enough the state legislature has passed the very inane Safe Gun Act, what other rights will be eroded?
A media associate suggested that if Robach’s crusade to prevent the public from seeing people arrested for crimes is successful, I should replace all the mug shots with a picture of Robach with every arrest.
Robach’s fellow Republicans (except Bob Oaks who said he would vote emphatically NO) are keeping mum on their colleague’s suggested legislation, perhaps believing it will just fade away. Regardless of his fake Republican demeanor of law and order, Robach should be tossed out on his ear. I called his office and left a message for him to call, but I fear it has been withheld…until…