Mug shots to be removed from Pinellas Sheriff website - WFLA News Channel 8

Mug shots to be removed from Pinellas Sheriff website

Posted: Updated:
LARGO, FL (WFLA) -

Mug shots will no longer be available for the public to view on the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office website.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri decided to restructure the "Who's in Jail" page and remove jail booking photos from the website.

Gualtieri says his decision was based on several mug shot websites including mugshots.com, justmugshots.com and arrests.org that have in recent years used the sheriff's office site to find and then post jail booking photos. The websites would then charge people to have the mug shots removed from the sites.

"After visiting mugshots.com myself - I saw that citizens were being charged anywhere from $399 to $1700 to remove their booking photos from just that one site - I decided that it is more than a rip-off - it is extortion," said Sheriff Gualtieri.

The sheriff says many mug shots that appear on the websites were for minor crimes.

"A person may have to pay an exorbitant amount of money to go from site to site to remove these booking posts. A lot of these people have committed relatively minor crimes - or made a bad decision. The reposting of their booking photo isn't illegal, but charging a fee to remove it' is unconscionable, verging on blackmail and clearly taking advantage of someone's circumstances. So we are doing our part to take away their ammunition."

The changes go into effect on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014.

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