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'Captures your worst day': Lawmaker looks to change mugshot release laws

Rep. Brooke Green of Boise
Posted at 5:27 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 19:31:49-05

BOISE, Idaho — Mugshots are frequently released in Ada County, but often have impact far beyond just the image itself.

Based on a personal event in her life, Democratic Rep. Brooke Green of Boise brought forward a bill to change the way agencies handle booking photos in certain situations to help reduce the stigma around mental illness.

“You should not have to find yourself and your future ruined because somebody captured your worst day and put it on film,” Green said.

Green introduced legislation aimed at protecting booking images or mugshots for people who, within 24 hours of booking have been detained or hospitalized for mental health purposes.

Rep. Brooke Green of Boise
Rep. Brooke Green of Boise

“We want to be able to provide people an opportunity to get help and not have to worry about the potential of a mugshot that captured in film one of their worst days and use that for entertainment purposes,” Green said. “Those mugshots should not be on the website and should not be available via records. It should really be about getting people the help they need.”

The bill is specific to misdemeanors for non-violent crimes, like trespassing, or disturbance of the peace. Green says she brought this bill forward in honor of her best friend, who died by suicide two years ago after her mugshot circulated on the internet.

"Her mental illness became present," Green said. "We always told ourselves, friends and family, her mother and I, that it's going to be an arrest that finally gets her the help she needs and sure enough, she did get arrested and subsequently the afternoon or that evening, her mugshot because she was a person of influence was plastered on six media channels and I looked at that and knew at that point, that that would be the last of my friend."

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During Gov. Brad Little’s State of the State address at the start of the session, he emphasized investing in behavioral health in Idaho. He says he plans on investing $50 million for resources like new behavioral health clinics, psychiatric treatment facilities and youth crisis centers. In addition, $4.4 million dollars of that would be used to convert the state’s suicide prevention line to a national mental health crisis line.

“I won’t bring my friend back and I do this on her behalf,” Green said. “I do this for everyone else who has to make those calls because no one should have to make that call and know potentially their need to get help for their loved one could potentially result in their worst day being captured in film.”

The hearing for the bill is on February 25.