When Richland County, S.C., councilman and defense attorney Seth Rose found websites posting his clients' booking photos and charging them hundreds of dollars to have them removed, he had one word for the practice. “It's extortion,” he told The State in Columbia, S.C. Rose said the sites posted every booking photo originally published online locally and left them up long after a person had been released on bond, which is when the county takes the mugs down.
Getting the photo removed carries a hefty fee – $400 – even if the person has been tried and found not guilty of the crime for which he or she was arrested, Rose said. Last week, the jail removed booking photos from its online database of detainees. Representatives of a site he complained about, Mugshots.com twice refused comment and hung up before further questions could be asked. The site refers to itself as “the Google of mug shots” and features more than eight million booking photos gathered from jails and prisons in 46 states. Below each photo is a button marked “unpublish” that redirects users to a Mugshots.com sister site, unpublisharrest.com. There, a person can fill out a form to have the photo removed from the site, and it lists a $399 charge per photo. The site charges the fee regardless of whether a person was found guilty.