ASSEMBLY LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

ASSEMBLY, No. 3906

 

with committee amendments

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:  NOVEMBER 18, 2013

 

      The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee reports favorably and with committee amendments Assembly Bill No. 3906.

      As amended and reported by the committee, this bill exempts from the State’s open public records law any photographs of an arrestee taken by a law enforcement agency when the arrest has not resulted in a conviction.

      Under the bill, the reputations of arrestees who are not subsequently found guilty of the crimes they allegedly committed would be protected by eliminating ready public access to their mug shots.  This access enables publication of mug shots, which can unfairly damage or ruin the relationships and professional prospects of people who were not even found to have committed the wrongdoing charged, particularly if the mug shots are posted on the Internet.  The harm these people face also may be compounded by exploitative websites which indiscriminately post mug shots and charge exorbitant fees for their removal.  This bill helps to restore the presumption of innocence to which people who are not convicted of wrongdoing are entitled.

      Under the bill, government agencies could still release mug shots to news media and others for law enforcement purposes, such as public warnings.

 

COMMITTEE AMENDMENTS:

      The committee technically amended section 1 of the bill to reflect the most recent version of section 1 of P.L.1995, c.23 (C.47:1A-1.1) as recently amended by P.L.2013, c.116.