Category Archives: Law in Focus

UPDATE: Would Law Releasing Jail Mug Shots Deter Crime?

Rep. Al O'Brien

This just in: Washington State Rep. Al O’Brien, D-Mountlake Terrace, introduced a bill Tuesday in Olympia that would make public all booking photographs and electronic images from jails.

O’Brien chairs the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee, a fact that may give House Bill 2115 an increased chance at success.

I’m looking into O’Brien’s — and others’ — motivations behind such a move. But the first thought I had was if by releasing the mug shots of suspects is that it would have a deterrent effect on some in society to commit future crimes.

UPDATE: I spoke to O’Brien this afternoon and learned the bill was far more specific than its language leads on. O’Brien’s plan is to make the photos available to police, who could view them while on a traffic stop. He uses the example of an identity thief who police want to confirm that they are who they say they are.

“We were thinking just in terms the police,” O’Brien said.

Nonetheless, the subject of releasing booking photos to the overall public — not just police — is a hot topic.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I asked Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, what she thought of such an effort as well. Here’s what she wrote me in an email:

“The right to privacy is very strong in the WA State Constitution. These people at booking are not guilty of a crime. The photos and images are available after conviction.  Each intrusion into a person’s privacy does away with the presumption of innocence.  I don’t believe the bill has a chance to be passed.”

There are papers and web sites (take Newsday’s Long Island Mug Shots for example) that publish the mugs on crimes all the way down to DUIs. And some states, including Oregon, allow their jails to post mug shots on their jail booking rosters (check out the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office).

Continue reading

Appleton: ‘Smart on Crime’ Measures on Tap in Olympia

Sherry Appleton
Sherry Appleton

While covering a rally concerning CPS reform last Thursday in Olympia, I had a chance to meet with Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, to get an update on the 2009 legislative session.

Appleton, as far as I can tell, is the only member of Kitsap Peninsula’s delegation to Olympia that’s a member of the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee. It’s a position the twice elected representatitve was very excited about, she told me.

She uses a slight variation on a phrase lawmakers often use to describe their position on law and justice: “Tough on crime.”

Appleton prefers “Smart on crime.”

She printed out for me six bills that she’s touting on that committee, as well as on the other committees she serves on (Human Services and State Government and Tribal Affairs). Here’s a summary of those bills, with links to them:

Continue reading

Shocking: We May Have a Patient’s Pot Limit

The shenanigans of defining a “60-day supply” for card-carrying medical marijuana patients may actually be over.

I’m not holding my breath, though.

Still, the Department of Health, a few months past its deadline, has put forth this limit for patients: 24 ounces of finished product, 15 plants. That rule will go into effect Nov. 2.

I asked Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge this morning what his thoughts were on the new limits. He answered simply.

Continue reading

Law in Focus: The Peninsula Checkpoints

(Blogger’s note: Back to help us untangle our often complex legal system is Stan Glisson, a local Bremerton defense attorney. You might remember his last segment explaining the legal woes of Paris Hilton. Here’s his take on the recent stop-and-ID checkpoints the U.S. Border Patrol is conducting on the Olympic Peninsula.)

Since 9/11, Americans’ civil liberties have been limited in the name of national security. Is additional safety worth minor intrusions into our personal lives? Or as Benjamin Franklin said, is a society that trades liberty for safety deserving of neither?

For several months, the U.S. Border Patrol has been increasing its use of checkpoints on the Kitsap Peninsula as a mechanism for seeking out illegal — and possibly terrorist — border crossers. All along the peninsula, residents are reacting with a mix of surprise and outrage: If I haven’t done anything wrong, why am I being stopped and questioned by the police?

Continue reading

Gas Theft May be Up (But you Wouldn’t Know it From the Stats)

I recently got some statistics from the state’s Department of Licensing that I thought would illuminate the trend of increasing fuel theft.

I was wrong. Well, wrong that there’s been more convictions for motor vehicle theft.

A motor vehicle theft law that went into effect around 2003 in Washington brought on stiffer penalties for stealing gas — a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and up to a six month suspension of a person’s license.

We know that gas is being stolen more often in these days of record high oil prices.

The only answer then, is this: we’re not catching gas thieves. Here are the stats so you can see for yourself:

Continue reading

Law in Focus: The Plight of Paris

Blogger’s Note: Law In Focus is a feature here at the Forum that poses a question to a local attorney concerning a recent court decision or controversial area of law. Keep in mind: these are lawyers we’re talking about. So expect them to have opinions. Feel free to comment on them below or ask a question.

Today’s topic: Paris Hilton has made headlines recently — as she always does — by getting a DUI, driving with a suspended license, and ultimately landing in jail for those crimes. There’s been much talk in the media about the case: did authorities make an example out of her by casting a harsh sentence? Were they too lenient for the same reason? Here to comment on the decision is Stan Glisson, a local Bremerton defense attorney.

Here’s Stan’s opinion:

Paris Hilton has been ordered back to jail by the sentencing judge in her case for violating probation. Many think she has been treated too harshly, receiving a 45 day jail sentence. Statistics compiled by the LA Times certainly suggest that defendants facing similar allegations commonly get less time. But does that make her sentence unfair?

Continue reading

Law In Focus: Motel Searches

Blogger’s Note: Law In Focus is intended to be a new feature here at the Forum that will pose a question to a local attorney concerning a recent court decision or controversial area of law. Keep in mind: these are lawyers we’re talking about. So expect them to have opinions. Feel free to comment on them below or ask a question.

Today’s topic: The state supreme court ruled last week that it’s not constitutional for law enforcement to randomly check motel registries if officers have no probable cause that a crime has been committed. Here to comment on the decision is Stan Glisson (pictured), a local Bremerton defense attorney.

Brush up on the state supreme court’s motel search decision by reading Rob Tucker’s story in the Tacoma News Tribune, or see the actual court’s written decision.

Here’s Stan’s opinion:

In Lakewood, it has been common practice for a long time for hotels to cooperate with the “Crime-Free Hotel Motel Program.” Part of the program is that police can come by anytime and read the guest register, learning who is checked in to the hotel and what room they are in. Police could do this with no specific suspicion that any particular person in the hotel is committing a crime.

Continue reading