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Originally published Monday, March 7, 2011 at 5:25 PM

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Bill would make jail mug shots available

The measure approved by the state House would make jail-booking mug shots of accused criminals publicly available once the defendants have been charged with a crime.

Seattle Times Olympia bureau

The state House on Monday approved a bill that would make jail-booking mug shots of accused criminals publicly available once the defendants have been charged with a crime.

Sponsored by Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, chairman of the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee, House Bill 1689 would add booking photos to a list of information about people in jail that must be available to the public and the media.

Existing statutes say names, booking time and cause of confinement, among others things, are public information. Police sometimes release booking photos of suspects who are wanted and on the loose.

The measure passed the House 77-19 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

"People have a right to know," Hurst said. "The media has a responsibility to uphold the First Amendment by giving information to the citizens."

Hurst's proposal is backed by Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington, a trade association for daily newspapers, including The Seattle Times.

Groups opposed to the bill include the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington.

"In our society, you're innocent until proven guilty, and we don't need to be releasing photos of people who have not been convicted," said Doug Honig, spokesman for the ACLU of Washington.

Joanna Nolasco: 360-236-8266 or jnolasco@seattletimes.com

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