The Value of Florida’s Exemplary Sunshine Laws and Mug Shots

For those of you who haven’t already heard, @_FloridaMan on twitter currently is the hottest thing in the evolving field of mugshot journalism. Some credit the state’s “Proud Sunshine Laws” for cultivating an environment in which this unique form of regional literature is flourishing.

The Florida press is batting a 1,000 when it comes to killing legislation aimed at mugshot sites. Another bill written this particular session dealing with the commercial mug shot industry died earlier this month joining the other six. Some may be beginning to wonder if this state is simply unequal to the task of passing a law against mugshot scams while, at the same time, preserving the enjoyment, nay, the First Amendment right of the public to make fun of and laugh at idiot criminals who look stupid in their mug shots.

Remember when the New York Times did an investigative piece on the Mugshot Racket and saw considerable changes before the darn thing was even published? –Florida media isn’t going to do anything like that so it’s time to start thinking outside the box. Perhaps, Florida should solicit bids from various online newspapers that display mug shot galleries on their homepages then hire the best programmers the state has to offer and create a government-sponsored online booking photograph database. The maintenance of this database could be financed by court-ordered “publicity” fees remitted by those arrested. The photograph will then permanently be cataloged in this database giving Florida reporters an invaluable go-to resource when doing research for “Florida man” stories. As an added bonus, this plan will undoubtedly dry up the state’s demand for mugshot removal. It’s a sure bet that sooner or later someone will to start whining about the lack of benefits this type of public shaming has had on societies throughout history. In which case, we will frankly tell them to shut up because mug shots are public records.

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