NEFAC: Mugshot Secrecy Bill in New Hampshire Dangerous and Unjustified

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |

The New England First Amendment Coalition wrote to New Hampshire state senators today about a bill that would restrict access to police mugshots, calling the proposal “a dangerous and unjustified infringement” upon the public’s right to know and the ability of journalists to report the news.

HB 125 classifies police mugshots as investigatory records and exempts them from release under the New Hampshire Right to Know Law. The state Senate is expected to vote on the bill today.

The coalition noted in a May 27 email to state senators that mugshot photos can reveal racial or demographic information that a simple police report would not contain. The photos may also show the physical condition of suspects at the time of their arrest and eliminate doubt as to which of any number of “John Does” was arrested.

“While most mugshots received by the media are never published, it is critical that the right of the media to gather and disseminate news not be curtailed, as HB 125 would do,” explained attorney and NEFAC board member Richard Gagliuso on behalf of the coalition.

“Today, perhaps more than ever, citizens are demanding transparency and accountability within police departments,” he added. “In this light, HB 125 sends precisely the wrong message at the wrong time.”

NEFAC is the leading advocate for First Amendment freedoms and open government in New England. It fights to protect press rights and promote transparency throughout the six-state region. Learn more about how the coalition is helping to keep police officers accountable.

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Major Supporters of NEFAC include Hearst Connecticut Media Group, Paul and Ann Sagan, The Boston Globe, WBUR, Boston University and the Robertson Foundation.