- Associated Press - Thursday, January 12, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A bill that would allow authorities to publicly release mug shot photos taken when a criminal suspect is booked passed its first committee test Thursday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-1 to send the bill to the full chamber. Attorney General Marty Jackley proposed the measure and Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard said this week he supports it.

The legislation would make mug shots a public record, bringing South Dakota in line with 48 states that already allow booking photos to be provided to the public. Jackley said the proposal came out of a task force on open government.

“This is something that is important for transparency,” he said. “I think it’s important for bringing our state up to speed with the other 48 states.”

The bill would be very helpful to the news media and could serve as a useful public safety tool, said Dave Bordewyk, general manager of the South Dakota Newspaper Association.

Republican Sen. Stace Nelson, of Fulton, said he hopes the attorney general’s office is considering future revisions to state law to further open up state government. He called the mug shot bill a “baby step.”

Democratic Sen. Craig Kennedy, of Yankton, was the sole member of the committee to vote against the measure. He said, in other states, the photos are posted on the internet and people have to pay to have them removed. People are innocent until proven guilty and have a right to privacy, Kennedy said.

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