SpringfieldMugshots.com: How Hard is the Removal Process?

By Lindsay Clein , Daniel Shedd | dshedd@kolr10.com

Published 07/02 2014 10:29PM

Updated 07/03 2014 08:26AM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- KOLR10 is setting the record straight about a website that posts people's mugshots. It's called SpringfieldMugshots.com.

KOLR10 found out who runs the site and what the process is like to get a picture removed.

SpringfieldMugshots.com is a private website that takes pictures from the Greene County Jail's website.

The problem is while Greene County's mugs come down once someone gets out of jail, SpringfieldMugshots.com keeps the pictures up and they can be difficult to remove.

"It's horrible," says Ashley Brown.  "Nobody wants to be in jail."

Ashley Brown, better known as "Brown Brown," knows what it's like to be stuck behind bars.

"I had an assault charge and was doing a weekend in jail," she says.

She also knows what it's like to have the entire world know about it.  "Brown Brown" is one of thousands of people whose mugshot remains on the website SpringfieldMugshots.com.

"I believe you're innocent until proven guilty," she says.  "And a lot of times these mugshots get posted and nobody has been proven guilty for whatever they're being charged with-- and I think it's unfair.  They should have mugshots posted only after you get charged if they're going to do that."

Under the questions and contact section of the Springfield Mugshots website, information is provided on how to get a mugshot removed.  The site asks that you send your name and scanned paperwork to an e-mail address listed.

"We have been successful at this point in being able to get those removed for our clients without them paying the fee on the side," says Lawyer Will Worsham.

"We've had personal experiences with people that have had to pay money," says Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott.

KOLR10 Reporter Lindsay Clein exchanged several e-mails with Barry, the owner of the site, who told KOLR10 he doesn't have a problem removing pictures under most circumstances.  The website says paying to expedite the process is not an option.  However, two companies are listed by the Springfield Mugshots website, described as the only companies that would have any success in removing a mugshot within 24 hours.

Barry says the website's bail bond and attorney advertisers are given priority when it comes to mugshot removals.  One of the companies listed on the website is MugshotRemovalCompany.com.  That company told us over the phone it could cost up to $499 for a mugshot removal.

"I looked into paying to get it removed and it was a huge fee-- like $100 just to get my picture off there for something I didn't do," says Kristan Marino, whose picture used to be on the website.

Marino's mug was on the website for two years.

"All it said was "Kristan Marino" and under it "Second Degree Burglary," says Marino.  "Anytime employers would search my name, it said I was a second degree burglar."

Which wasn't the case.  Marino says her laptop was stolen and the person who took it turned it around, saying she stole the laptop.  She had proof of the laptop's purchase, which she showed to investigators.  Even after her innocence was proven, though, her mugshot remained on the Springfield Mugshots site.  She tried to get it taken down through a third party website and eventually was able to get her mugshot removed without paying a fee-- which took about a day.  She says she e-mailed the owner and he was nice enough to remove it.  She did have to provide paperwork to show she was innocent.

"Brown Brown" says she's known the website to affect people's lives-- even if they're innocent-- but to her, the site is almost another form of social media.

"I like to see who went to jail," she says.  "It's kind of turned into, I check my Facebook in the morning and check mugshots-- that's really just what happens-- I try to see who went to jail."   

Although a picture may be worth a thousand words, the stories behind these pictures aren't always accurate.

"I couldn't get a job-- I was labeled a burglar for two years for something I didn't do because the website doesn't remove innocent people's pictures or people brought in just to be questioned," says Marino.  "I know it says at the top "innocent until proven guilty," but they should at least only post pictures of people proven guilty."

The Springfield Mugshots website is in no way affiliated with any law enforcement agency.  However, Sheriff Jim Arnott says his office regularly gets complaints about the site.

"It could be a municipal violation where you forgot to mow your yard and you got issued a summons and didn't appear in court and got arrested," says Sheriff Arnott.  "It could be as insignificant as something like that.  I get complaints as recent as last week and people blame me for the issue of their mugshot being out there, when I have to go through and explain what I've explained to you-- that it's not something we do or are affiliated with.  It's a private website."

The site's owner tells KOLR10 it can take weeks to remove pictures-- even when "the process is done properly.

Right now, the website says any removal request e-mails probably won't be seen until August 1.

The owner says he built his first site after a friend started appearing in jail regularly.  He always received collect calls to bail him out so he wrote a program to scan the site to alert him when his friend was arrested.  That way, he could notify the proper people and avoid collect call charges.

After he started seeing all kinds of interesting mugshots, he decided to build a website around it.  At the time, it was just a sub-directory of a local news outlet.  It became popular, so he moved it to its own domain and started scouring counties and other states-- looking for official jail booking data so he could build similar sites.

SpringfieldMugshots.com was built in 2010.


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