For the record

Exempting arrest info from the public eye quashes basic freedom

  • Follow Editorials

It’s one of the worst ideas we’ve heard in a long time: banning public access to arrest records and mug shots.

How horrifying that five state senators – including two local ones, Hardie Davis, D-Augusta, and Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro – have recommended the state exempt arrest and booking information from the Georgia Open Records Act.

Do they realize what that means? If such a recommendation became law, anyone arrested could be placed in jail without any public knowledge. If the arrested party were one of your family members, you couldn’t confirm it, or even find out what crime was allegedly committed. Those taken into custody essentially would disappear.

Similar policies have existed elsewhere. North Korea and the former East Germany come to mind.

We pray that it’s not Davis’ and Stone’s intent to turn Georgia law enforcement agencies into Stasi-like secret police. Their Expungement Reform Study Committee was established ostensibly to protect the wrongly accused or convicted from the negative impact such reports can have when applying for jobs or housing.

David Hudson, an attorney for the Georgia Press Association and The Augusta Chronicle, said that withholding arrest information “would remove great safeguards for individual citizens, and for effective oversight on how police authorities and jailers perform their duties.” Protection of our rights needs more oversight, not less.

Being taken off the streets and thrown into a jail cell is scary. Being taken off the streets and thrown into a jail cell without anyone knowing is downright terrifying.

The senators’ exemption recommendation needs to be withdrawn – and it certainly doesn’t need to see the light of day as an actual bill in the Georgia General Assembly.

Comments (48) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
deestafford
28681
Points
deestafford 01/15/14 - 01:53 am
11
5
If any of y'all have a Stone for Congress sign...

If any of y'all have a Stone for Congress sign in your yard I'd seriously consider throwing it in the trash because apparently he is not the conservative he tries to appear to be. He's lost my vote since he wants to be on the side of the law breakers...sort of like Holder and Obama are.

GACopprhed
2136
Points
GACopprhed 01/15/14 - 02:02 am
5
12
Oh my lord! Then all the fine
Unpublished

Oh my lord! Then all the fine readers of the classy rag couldn't offer all their opinions on what should happen to the accused! It doesn't matter that when this occurs, it also has an effect on the potential for a fair and impartial trial....

InChristLove
22481
Points
InChristLove 01/15/14 - 06:21 am
11
4
Last time I checked this

Last time I checked this classy rag has the option of offering or not offering a opportunity for anyone to offer their opinion.....taking away the potential for a fair and impartial trial.......

so now what's your beef?

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 01/15/14 - 07:43 am
10
3
Truth is Tabloids Don't Want Public to Have Access to Records

Of course these records should be open to the public. They should be on a county website exactly as the jail is with its list of prisoners. By making anyone who wants to access the arrest records pay a little fee and go to the trouble to get the info instead of making it very accessible to all the public for free, you subsidize various kinds of cheap papers taking advertising fees from newspapers that actually gather news.

The truth is these tabloids (and, yes, the Chronicle with "Booked" is into this now, too) go down to the various sheriffs’ offices, pass out a few trinkets, tell a few jokes and pay the little fee to get the info that is realistically not available to the public. These records are already kept in a database and could be available online without costing the county a cent.

The fact is the “Jail” tabloids don’t want the public having true access to the arrest records and mug shots and they work in ways to keep that from happening. If the public can check out the arrests with mug shots on their computers and smart phones, the tabloids will be put out of business.

There was an editorial a couple of years ago in the Columbia County News Times noting when a “Who’s in Jail” type paper garners advertisers it says something about us as a society. By offering a free, easy to access website, you do away with the sensationalizing tabloid and put more advertising revenue back into newspapers that are institutions, supporting the community.

myfather15
55764
Points
myfather15 01/15/14 - 07:47 am
13
2
Innocent until proven

Innocent until proven guilty!! Just because a person is arrested, doesn't mean they've been found guilty!! Reasonable people know this and when arrests are broadcast, they take it for what it is, just an arrest. It does NOT contaminate a jury or fair trial, because reasonable people understand. This is why MANY laws, include the term REASONABLE PERSON, because many people, just aren't reasonable.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 01/15/14 - 08:07 am
14
4
I find it interesting how one
Unpublished

I find it interesting how one of the posters here tries to insult the readers of this "classy rag", forgetting that he himself is one of those readers. I don't find it surprising, just interesting, because given the past hypocrisy of this person, it is completely normal.

bigj706
1241
Points
bigj706 01/15/14 - 08:49 am
8
2
I like your view on it RM!

I like your view on it RM!

seenitB4
90795
Points
seenitB4 01/15/14 - 09:36 am
4
4
haha

I like RM's view too bigj706......& a great morining to ya!!

nocnoc
44930
Points
nocnoc 01/15/14 - 10:33 am
8
2
OK, It s agiven the public has a right to know

and Papers, Websites and the Media make a ton of $$$$$$
plastering everyone's arrest image around.

If we are going to be FAIR about this then REQUIRE these publishers to TRACK and label the Mugshots accordingly (AWAITING TRIAL, BONDED OUT, INNOCENT, GUILTY, UNDER APPEAL, CHARGES DROPPED, etc....)

IF it is really about keeping the public informed and not the $$$$ or headlines.

Then require that the reporting be 100% CORRECT and the coverage of GUILTY and INNOCENT be EQUAL in the same time slots and space and location.

Also update the Liable Laws reducing the protections media currently enjoys from such incorrect data publication situations.

Simply require
Equal placement of UPDATED data, and/or removal of ALL incorrect data, and records provided to, or used by associated 3rd party sites and publications.

Examples: AC front page story above the fold

_______ ARREST FOR ___________

_______ CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST _______.

TV #
Reports ___________ was charged with ___________.
Updated information regarding _____'s arrest now indicates the charges were false/dropped/ over reaching etc.

If a media provider has to eat crow they''ll be more careful.

Austin Rhodes
2907
Points
Austin Rhodes 01/15/14 - 02:14 pm
4
4
Shows how much RM knows on the topic...

...not much.

I am including his original comments, so he cannot edit them to make better sense. These are his original, misbegotten notions UNEDITED or CORRECTED:
-----------------------
RIVERMAN wrote:

"Truth is Tabloids Don't Want Public to Have Access to Records
Of course these records should be open to the public. They should be on a county website exactly as the jail is with its list of prisoners. By making anyone who wants to access the arrest records pay a little fee and go to the trouble to get the info instead of making it very accessible to all the public for free, you subsidize various kinds of cheap papers taking advertising fees from newspapers that actually gather news.

The truth is these tabloids (and, yes, the Chronicle with "Booked" is into this now, too) go down to the various sheriffs’ offices, pass out a few trinkets, tell a few jokes and pay the little fee to get the info that is realistically not available to the public. These records are already kept in a database and could be available online without costing the county a cent.

The fact is the “Jail” tabloids don’t want the public having true access to the arrest records and mug shots and they work in ways to keep that from happening. If the public can check out the arrests with mug shots on their computers and smart phones, the tabloids will be put out of business.

There was an editorial a couple of years ago in the Columbia County News Times noting when a “Who’s in Jail” type paper garners advertisers it says something about us as a society. By offering a free, easy to access website, you do away with the sensationalizing tabloid and put more advertising revenue back into newspapers that are institutions, supporting the community."
---------------------------------------------

WRONG !

I can go on to CC and RC's SD websites right this minute and get a mugshot of everyone in custody, or recently taken.

RM's suggestion that bribes are offered and that just the cop's chosen buddies get this access is complete baloney.

JUST LIKE the National Weather Service offers free weather updates, the public likes this stuff spoon fed to them, with extra bells and whistles that the government won't provide...

It is popular and in demand and some of you folks either don't understand that fact, or you are just stomping your feet and whining because someone else thought of selling the info and YOU didn't.

Grow up and learn the Constitution, please...

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 01/15/14 - 02:36 pm
4
2
Austin, can you go to the county website?

Austin, can you go to the county website and get a list of photos and charges without paying? I don't think the editorial in the CCNT was crying about anything, but simply making a point about our society supporting such tabloids.

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 01/15/14 - 02:44 pm
4
1
Clarifying

Austin said, "I am including his original comments, so he cannot edit them to make better sense. These are his original, misbegotten notions UNEDITED or CORRECTED:"

Are you suggesting that I go back and change comments? If I ever change a comment is is based on a grammatical mistake. The time of the change is clearly marked. You suggest I'm dishonest with my comments. Do you see any comments today that you think I've gone back and changed? Please enlighten me?

By the way, you were saying yesterday that those of us pointing out problems with the Jail Report wanted to stop the information being released. I don't know about the others, but I've plainly said the information should be even more available. To the point where it loses its value to the Jail Report, etc.

Red Headed Step Child
4184
Points
Red Headed Step Child 01/15/14 - 03:44 pm
1
1
@Riverman1

As Austin stated, you can go out to both the Richmond County and Columbia County Sheriff's Office sites and you can search inmates for free. I haven't done it in a while, but last time I checked you can. The site lists the charges pending, etc.

Red Headed Step Child
4184
Points
Red Headed Step Child 01/15/14 - 03:45 pm
1
1
Jail Report

As tacky as it may be, I do find it entertaining on occasion...the captions are what makes it a rather amusing read.

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 01/15/14 - 03:45 pm
3
1
Trinkets and Jokes

Austin said, “RM's suggestion that bribes are offered and that just the cop's chosen buddies get this access is complete baloney.”

So Austin said I suggested bribes are offered to the police to access the data.

What I actually said was this: “The truth is these tabloids (and, yes, the Chronicle with "Booked" is into this now, too) go down to the various sheriffs’ offices, pass out a few trinkets, tell a few jokes and pay the little fee to get the info that is realistically not available to the public.”

Trinkets are not thought of as something with value. That is not saying they are being bribed. The spirit of the comment is also not one suggesting a bribe when I said, “tell a few jokes.”

If I made charges against any law enforcement agency of taking bribes as Austin suggests or any news organization of seriously offering them, I propose whatever offended party bring arrest charges against me pronto. It was plain to all what I was talking about. By the way, isn't it against the law to accuse someone falsely of breaking the law?

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 01/15/14 - 03:55 pm
3
1
Red Headed Step Child

Red Headed Step Child. I understand you can visit county jail sites and obtain info. I said that exact thing in my comment. What I don't think you can do is get a list of RECENT arrests with mug shots and charges, including those who are released without paying a small fee. Correct me if I'm wrong. It seems like I've heard there is a fee involved.

But my whole point is the list given to various jail tabloids should also be given to anyone via the internet for free. The goal would be to dilute their ability to sensationalize while actually giving the public better access and information.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/15/14 - 04:06 pm
0
2
I think if everyone would

I think if everyone would stop nosing around and being busy bees and concentrate on being good neighbors, the problem would resolve itself. Personally, and my cousin brought this to my attention, I feel that self-esteem is over-rated. Stop the self-centeredness and start thinking outward. Because this all boils down to an individual's fear of being ridiculed in a public forum.

Red Headed Step Child
4184
Points
Red Headed Step Child 01/15/14 - 04:12 pm
1
1
@River

I hear ya..must have missed your statement on a "skim" of the comments. I don't know how quickly the county sites are updated, but the last time we had someone arrested (I work for a company that sometimes has to report people for theft/fraud) the Richmond County site had his mug shot up there pretty fast - I want to say we saw it the next day.

I can't comment on jail tabloids - I don't know how they get their information and if it's anything more than what John Q. gets off the websites..I'll have to defer that to people "in the know". But I'd agree - freedom of information should be on a level playing field.

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 01/15/14 - 04:17 pm
2
1
RedHeadedStepChild,

RedHeadedStepChild, thanks.

David Parker said, "...I feel that self-esteem is over-rated."
Not sure I agree with that. Heh.

bigj706
1241
Points
bigj706 01/15/14 - 04:50 pm
2
2
Hello Seenit!!

Hello Seenit!!

Austin Rhodes
2907
Points
Austin Rhodes 01/15/14 - 05:35 pm
2
3
Riverman...you were wrong all over the place...

...and I have demonstrated that.

You said there was no online public access to the mugshots...yes there is. You said someone "passes out trinkets" to gain access the public does not have, no they don't.

In your unsigned diatribe you not only impugn the reputations of those who work in the media, you suggest the cops have a hand in an unfair distribution of legally accessible public records.

Who told you all this? Did you make it all up?

As far as someone coming after you for slander, name a specific cop or media person who is supposed to be doing this illegal and unethical stuff, and I will send them your name, address, and photograph before you can say UNCLE.

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 01/15/14 - 06:20 pm
2
1
Press Charges, Please

Like I said Austin, I’m waiting to be arrested or sued. You said I said officers are taking bribes. It would be breaking the law if I falsely accused officers of taking bribes and I would want to be charged. Why don’t you press charges since you think I was accusing them of bribery? But you want me to add things to my comments and then say that will be accusing them of bribery. That’s so asinine, it’s funny. My comments clearly did not indicate I was accusing officers of bribery, but that’s just you fabricating. Once again, read what I said. Sue me, press criminal charges, put a hex on me, or jump up and down scream as you usually do.

By the way, I don’t count these jail tabloid people as responsible media. Heh, heh, heh. The CCNT editorial wasn’t exactly calling the whole process Pulitzer Prize winning journalism either.

I don’t know what you are talking about with me saying the jail info is not available online. The issue is with people who are charged and released, also. I guess you have reading comprehension problems, also. I said it in my first comment and explained it again to RedHeadedStepChild.

Bizkit
32950
Points
Bizkit 01/15/14 - 07:10 pm
1
1
I heard a rumor that Riverman

I heard a rumor that Riverman is accusing officers of bribery and waiting' to be arrested or sued. Then I heard about a diabolical plan he is trying' to enrage Austin Rhodes till he reaches critical mass and blows up-it happens ya know like people burstin' into flames. The only problem I have about these "arrest" pics is you don't know what happens to them-some maybe innocent but who will know-just remember your mug related to some crime. Why doesn't the DOJ complain about this because it may represent more minorities getting bad press and they can't have that from recent comments.

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 01/15/14 - 07:45 pm
1
1
Question for Austin

I was kind of hoping Austin would come back. I have a direct question for him since he knows one of these jail things so well. Does it pay an RCSO clerical person to gather the information? Yes or no?

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 01/15/14 - 07:45 pm
1
1
Biz, funny, heh.

Biz, funny, heh, heh, heh.

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 01/15/14 - 08:53 pm
1
1
Sheriff Roundtree Instituted Fair Policy

I'm also informed Sheriff Roundtree INSTITUTED a policy that does NOT hold back mugshots of anyone. Good deal.

Austin Rhodes
2907
Points
Austin Rhodes 01/15/14 - 09:08 pm
1
2
I have no idea what specific arrangement The Jail Report has...

...with anyone at the RC, CC, AC, or EC Sheriff's departments.

I do know that Sheriff Roundtree personally deals with the publisher, and has his own column in the paper. So whatever arrangements he has with anyone at the RCSD, you can bet your sweet bippy Roundtree has signed off on it.

I will also say, knowing Greg Rickabaugh as well as I have, and as long as I have, that he would not be a part of any underhanded or illegal "sharing" of information that others have no access to. (And I mean an ongoing supply of mugshots and info, NOT special scoops or inside information that comes along on special cases)

Trust me, if the other media thought the JR had something THEY didn't have, they would be all over it. They ain't, because the JR don't.

The Chronicle is concerned about this, as everyone in the media should be, because restricting public information that has been open for the asking for DECADES, is backwards thinking, and very dangerous.

Riverman made so many FLAT OUT WRONG statements in his first post that it had to be corrected. The dude just made up stuff...or someone lied to him and he passed it on. One or the other.

Austin Rhodes
2907
Points
Austin Rhodes 01/15/14 - 09:10 pm
1
2
There has NEVER been a "hold the mug shot" policy at the RCSD...

...not that I or anyone else in media around here has ever heard about.

In rare cases, where they are actively working a case and looking for additional people, when they need the element of surprise, they MIGHT, but it is almost unheard of...

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 01/15/14 - 09:23 pm
1
1
It Was A Simple Question

I asked you a simple question. Does the Jail Report pay a clerical working in the RCSO to compile the data? You said you don't know. That's fine. I told you Sheriff Roundtree initiated a policy that no mugshots would be held back. Now if you don't know about that, it's fine. Maybe you should ask around a little more.

Who said Greg Rickabaugh was doing anything illegal? Not me. I said a fee was being paid to access the info. I said it should be done for the public for free. I stand by that.

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 01/15/14 - 09:33 pm
2
2
Real Slow Tell Me What's False in My Post

Austin said, "Riverman made so many FLAT OUT WRONG statements in his first post that it had to be corrected. The dude just made up stuff...or someone lied to him and he passed it on."

Let's go over what you think I said that was wrong. Care to list them?

Austin just makes up things about people making up things. Heh.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Democrats target turnout for Sunday voting

Registered voters in Augusta-Richmond County can cast ballots in the Nov. 4 election from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday in the Advance Voting Center at Augusta Municipal Building, 530 Greene St.
Search Augusta jobs