Everyone in Grand Rapids can agree that domestic violence is an absolute tragedy and should be stopped. With Michigan's mandatory arrest policy for cases of suspected domestic violence, however, it is important that no one jump to conclusions about guilt just because someone got arrested. Unfortunately for some people in Grand Rapids, the tabloid newspaper Busted is looking to publicize people's arrests as a way to pressure people into not committing crimes.
According to the newspaper's publisher, putting people's "mug shots" and the charge on which they were arrested in a newspaper will prevent someone from re-offending or make someone think twice before actually committing a crime. While public humiliation does play a role in modifying people's behavior, some people may end up being the target of unwarranted publicity.
Under Michigan's domestic violence laws, when police respond to a situation in which they believe an assault has taken place, they cannot leave without making an arrest. This does not mean that police will always arrest the person at fault or that an assault even happened, but Busted does not dig too deeply when they publish someone's booking photograph. The newspaper's publisher says that the tabloid has a disclaimer that everyone is presumed innocent, but some law enforcement officers are not sure that readers understand that.
Although the newspaper has been operating for the past two years, it has recently raised some questions about whether this policy of public humiliation is fair to the people who are arrested and whether it is a violation of their privacy. Some federal legislators have started to discuss whether booking photographs should be released to the public and, if so, under what conditions. Many believe a mass publication, such as Busted, is a violation of privacy rights.
While anyone in Grand Rapids would hope that their neighbors, colleagues and employers would be smart enough to realize that someone's arrest does not indicate their guilt, it is unclear just how well the people of Grand Rapids understand it.
Source: Pioneer Press, "You got your picture in the paper? Oh, that paper..." Bob Shaw, Feb. 5, 2012