Imagine getting a call from your mother saying she just saw you on the cover of the tabloid newspaper Busted and that the paper indicates you were arrested on drug charges. While you might be able to explain to your mother that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, that explanation may not go over as well if your boss calls you into his or her office to talk about your “mug shot.” For the residents of the Twin Cities, there is a real fear that they will end up in this tabloid long before they will ever set foot in a courtroom.
Anyone in Minnesota who is arrested is innocent until proven guilty, but that only applies in a legal courtroom, not in the court of public opinion. If, for example, you are arrested for possession of marijuana and your picture appears in Busted, people in Minneapolis reading the magazine may assume that you have been convicted of drug possession. Even though the newspaper says that everyone is presumed innocent, having one’s picture appear with a listed charge could instantly damage one’s career and reputation.
According to the Pioneer Press, the man in charge of the publication believes that his self-described “trashy tabloid” will actually help to deter crime. He says that if someone is caught doing something wrong and publically humiliated for it, he or she may not do it a second time. The problem, of course, is that not everyone who is arrested has done something wrong. Whether the person was in the wrong place or the evidence was not entirely clear or someone set the arrestee up, the person being arrested is suffering public humiliation for something he or she did not do.
Now, the publisher is hoping to spread into Washington County. He already uses mug shots from Anoka, Stearns, Ramsey, Hennepin and Dakota counties, but he has been trying to access Washington County jails’ booking photographs in order to cover the entire Twin Cities metro area.
Source: Pioneer Press, “You got your picture in the paper? Oh, that paper…” Bob Shaw, Feb. 5, 2012