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Rethinking Crime Photography and the Rights of Nonviolent Offenders

Hyperallergic – Thanks to the internet’s meticulous record-keeping, journalists are rethinking to ethics of publishing the identities of nonviolent criminals.

“How long must someone pay for a mistake? The online publication of mugshots and police blotters takes an outsized toll on minority communities, which are already subjected to disproportionately aggressive police surveillance. According to the NAACP’s statistics, for example, nearly six times more African Americans than Whites are incarcerated for drug-related offenses. In 2014, USA Today found that at least 70 police departments across the country arrested Black people at a rate 10 times higher than anyone else. This type of negative publicity escalates the disenfranchisement of minority populations in America, impugning their opportunities for gainful employment and respect.

“[Before the Internet], these stories would go into microfilm; they were findable but it wasn’t that easy,” Chris Quinn, editor and president of Ohio told NiemanLab in an article about the issue. “Now, we’re the biggest platform in the state. If we’ve written about you and someone searches your name, whatever we have pops up first, no matter how old it is.”..

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