Thursday, October 25, 2012

Enterprise or Extortion?

I stumbled across a local website tonight called "Kansas City Mugshots: Kansas City Mugshots of Local Criminals in Real Time".  It looks like it has the potential to be a serious money maker for the website's owner.  The business model is this: Post mugshots of people who have been arrested, and then offer them the opportunity to remove their mugshot from the website within 24 hours for $150.  If an arrestee is willing to wait a week to have their embarrassing photo removed, they can get a bargain rate of $50.

I would consider this site a good public service if these were mugshots of bond skippers and other fugitives that could pose a danger to society.  I might even consider it acceptable had the people in the mugshots already been convicted of the crimes of which they are accused.  In the United States, though, human beings are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the idea of posting embarrassing photos of citizens presumed innocent and then demanding money to have the photographs removed seems to me like extortion of people (presumed innocent) who already have enough trouble on their hands.

Consider this, too: How many of these people will be acquitted of the crimes for which they were booked, only to have this searchable record of their arrest impede their ability to get a job or otherwise improve their lot in life?  It's not helpful that visitors to the website can classify the mugshots with tags like "White Trash", "Afro Club" and "Hotties", and leave comments to make fun of those who might not be guilty, and might not have an extra 50 to 150 dollars on hand to get this record of a bad experience removed from the World Wide Web.  To me this is wrong on so many levels.

Capitalism is king in our country, no matter who it hurts.


Hyperblogal said...

It's legalized blackmail.

Anonymous said...

Its naive to believe in the presumption of innocence. That's why its so important to have an alibi, because you are, in fact, presumed guilty. In most peoples minds, if you were innocent, you wouldn't have been arrested. If you're found not guilty, you 'got off', but you're still considered guilty by the public.