Greenville County Provides Better Access to Mugshots After Threat of Legal Action by ‘The Jail Report’
GREENVILLE COUNTY, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 2011 – The Greenville County Department of Public Safety recently upgraded their website to provide the public with better access to criminal mugshots and arrest information, a move that came after the threat of legal action by The Jail Report Inc.
Instead of requiring citizens to purchase a jail log with names of those arrested before they could view mugshots online, the county now allows website users to search online without knowing the name. This allows the public to have free access to see who has been arrested and formally charged with crimes in Greenville County. (View mugshots by logging onto: http://app.greenvillecounty.org/inmate_search.htm )
“After a year-long battle with Greenville County, we are pleased to declare victory in our fight to get better access to mugshots, which the state has clearly deemed are public records under the Freedom of Information Act,” said Greg Rickabugh, Publisher of The Jail Report. “The public has a right to know and see who is being formally charged with a crime. While there is still room to grow, we are happy that the county has decided to join other law enforcement agencies in South Carolina in providing more openness.”
After denying requests for easier access to mugshots of ALL criminal suspects for more than a year, The Jail Report hired attorney Wallace K. Lightsey, a well-respected media attorney. In his May 16th letter, Lightsey informed the county that refusal to provide easier access to mugshots could “only be viewed as a willful violation” of the Freedom of Information Act, which is a criminal misdemeanor offense.
In his response, county attorney Mark Tollison referenced the battle by The Jail Report and said his agency had revised the inmate information available on the website and created a new inquiry system.
“As part of the changes, there is a new search feature which allows users to retrieve an alphabetical listing of all inmates and the ‘book date,’” Tollison wrote. “The county will continue to look for ways to create ease of access for citizens to public records.”
About Us: The Jail Report is a crime-fighting publication with editions in upstate South Carolina, Florence County, the Augusta-Aiken area and in California. The Upstate edition includes arrest and crime information for Greenville, Laurens, Greenwood and Abbeville counties. The weekly paper is sold in local convenience stores. The paper’s motto is “Fighting crime through knowledge.” That simply means that this crime newspaper hopes to arm the public with information that will help them make decisions to protect them, their family and their property. By knowing the names and faces of people accused of committing crimes in our neighborhoods, readers can make more informed decisions on the people they associate with and allow into their lives.