(PresidentialWire.com)- San Francisco police have announced that they will no longer release mug shot images to the public unless they believe the person arrested poses a threat to the public. The practice of releasing mugshots to the public has long been used to ensure that local people are aware of who has been arrested and why, so they can keep safe.
But this change will ensure that only people who the police may be dangerous will be seen, despite many criminals being arrested for one thing but actually being guilty of something different, or worse.
The decision was made because of “racial bias” and to avoid perpetuating racial stereotypes, according to San Francisco’s police chief.
Jake Glaser, a public policy professor at the University of California Berkeley, told the press how data shows black people who are arrested are more likely to have their case dismissed by prosecutors. He argues that this means black people are arrested more frequently than non-blacks and that mugshots are an extension of this problem.
Glaser suggests that the release of mugshots means people may believe black people are more likely to commit a crime, even if the charges are ultimately dropped.
“This is just one small step but we hope this will be something that others might consider doing as well,” he said. Glaser did not acknowledge, however, the fact that many cases are dropped for reasons other than the person being innocent. Whether it’s a lack of evidence or simply a lenient judge, it’s entirely possible that somebody can be arrested and have their charges dropped despite having committed the crime in the first place.
This isn’t new, though. The policy has already been adopted in New York and Los Angeles. The New York Police Department releases information about arrests made to the public, but mug shots are not released unless investigators believe the release of the image may help encourage people to come forward.
Many people likely agree with the policy, and it’s not unreasonable. Perhaps people shouldn’t be exposed in this way until a trial determines whether they are guilty or not…but is this really a matter of race and anti-black bias?
What do you think?