WHY THAT DOESN’T … AND DOES MATTER
By FITSNEWS || The S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is refusing to release a “processing photo” (a.k.a. mug shot) of suspended Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell – a flagrant violation of the Palmetto State’s open records law.
During his arraignment, Harrell was fingerprinted and photographed – although SLED is refusing to release the booking photograph of Harrell, according to The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier.
“It sounds to me like somebody has decided to give Harrell special treatment,” open records attorney Jay Bender told the paper.
Here’s the thing about mug shots: They shouldn’t be a big deal – either for the subjects appearing in them or the media seeking them.
Seriously, if you’re a politician who is about to be booked – just smile for the camera! That way your mug shot will look no different than any typical campaign photograph.
And for those taking the mug shots, it’s even simpler: Release them when they are requested.
These are public records, and while we know South Carolina has a big problem when it comes to transparency – there is absolutely no reason why Harrell’s mug shot shouldn’t be released. Bender is 100 percent right: The law requires that it be released.
Obviously Harrell’s mug shot is not a big deal in either the short- or long-term scheme of things … but there’s a bigger issue at work here. The failure of SLED to release the photo is yet another sad reminder that in the Palmetto State, a corrupt few are still arbitrarily deciding which public records are actually “public.”
That’s not “freedom of information.” That’s the perpetuation of the nation’s most secretive government.
UPDATE: Well, well … even Harrell gets it.
UPDATE II: And the mug shot is released …