House Committee Passes Bill Authorizing Release of Offender Photos
By Jenifer Jones
The House State Affairs Committee unanimously passed a bill that allows the release of offender photographs and physical description for purposes of victim and community notification. Lori Feiler is with the Department of Corrections. She says current statute allows for the release of inmate photos only if the prisoner becomes a fugitive. But she says it's also important to be able to release photos so that inmates can get copies of their birth certificates. The photos would also go on databases that track parolees across state lines, allow the Department of Social Services to confirm identities for child support enforcement, and be part of an offender lookup database on the internet.
"You can have age, and you can have gender, and you can have race, but sometimes you do need to look at the picture to make sure it's the right person," Feiler says. "Whether it has to do with aliases or again with common names. If I'm a victim or if I'm a community member who wants to look up and wonders when this guy is getting out, you may not know for sure who you've got until you take a look at the picture."
Feiler says officials would remove information and photos once an inmate is released or finishes parole. The bill now moves to the House floor.
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