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Public Safety or Right To Privacy? Bill To Limit Arrest Info

February 21, 2019

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As part of the state budget plan, Gov. Cuomo announced a proposal to change the  mug shots are released by state law enforcement.

If enacted, the proposal would alter the state’s Freedom of Information Law and would only apply to state agencies like NYSP and the Attorney General’s Office.

Local Criminal Defense Attorney Peter Pullano says the proposal can help individuals who have served their time or were never convicted.

“Not every arrest means that there’s a criminal at the other end of it,” said Pullano. “Any publication of photos should wait for a time when there is a conviction, something that’s a little more public, before we drag a person through the mud.”

NYS Committee on Open Government Executive Director Robert Freeman argues that the public has a right to the information contained within arrest records. Freeman argues that even if the proposal is enacted, a defendant’s identity is still revealed during the court process.

“How could it be that disclosure would result in an unwarranted invasion of privacy?” said Freeman. “The equivalent information could be seen by anybody in the courtroom.”

The governor says the move is aimed at curtailing the “internet shaming industry.”

“A bill like this may not have been nearly as necessary before social media and the explosion of social media, but now I think it’s time has come,” said Pullano.

“Ten years later his or her mug shot is all over the internet still affecting this person when they go to get a job, affecting relationships with other people.”

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