The following summary of Senate Bill 660 comes from our Justice League Fellow and summer intern, Kyla Holton.
The proliferation of publish-for-pay entities publishing booking photographs is a problem that prevents people from achieving a fresh start with housing and employment access after a record expunction.
Senate Bill 660 would mean that booking photographs, which are photographs of an individual that are created for identification purposes when an individual is booked into a detention facility, are not public records.
This bill would prohibit law enforcement from providing copies of a booking photograph to a person requesting it, if it will be placed in a publish-for-pay publication, which is a publication that requires the payment of a fee in order to remove or delete a booking photograph from the publication, or posted to a publish-for-pay website, which is a website that requires a payment of a fee in order to remove or delete the booking photograph.
If someone does request a booking photograph from law enforcement, then they will have to submit a written statement signed by the person affirming that the booking photograph will not be placed or posted in a publish-for-pay publication or website.
If this person does violate this statement, then they are subject to punishment of removal, which means a publish for pay publication or publish for pay website will need to remove and destroy the booking photograph if an individual submits a request for removal and destruction under certain provisions. If there is a failure to remove the booking photograph then the individual may bring a civil action against the publish for pay website or publication, which would be liable for all costs including attorney fees.
This bill will impact those who need a new start after having their record cleared. This especially affects those who have had their record impacted by a crime they did not commit. This is important to me because there is no reason for a free, innocent individual to have their booking photographs as public records when they did not get convicted of the crime. Having these bookings as public records greatly impacts housing and employment access due to individuals being denied access to either because they are still seen as a threat or problem to the public. With the passing of this Senate bill, we are not only allowing innocent individuals a fresh start, but we are also making law enforcement, websites, and publishers take accountability for their wrongdoings and mistakes.
Kerwin Pittman, Director of Policy and Programming for Emancipate NC, spoke to the impact this bill passing would have: “ I believe that it is extremely important that we protect the most marginalized groups in North Carolina and we all know that group to be those who are directly justice-involved.”
“The passing of this bill would be a great step of making sure companies are not profiting off of someone’s downfall and mistakes,” Pittman stated.
“It’s definitely important for legislators to act on this as soon as possible. There have been some concerns from the sheriffs association surrounding this bill, but those concerns such as the passing of this bill would hurt victims of crimes is a complete fallacy. In fact, it is the exact opposite. The passing of this bill will actually help victims of crime. As we know they are likely to be arrested as well, especially in domestic disputes incidents.” Pittman added
We hope this bill passes so that it has the ability to change the lives and futures of directly impacted men and women.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column] [/et_pb_row] [/et_pb_section]