Local News

Get arrested and you could wind up in 'The Slammer'

Posted July 22, 2008

— If you are arrested in Wake County, you might just end up in "The Slammer."

It's a weekly newspaper in Wake and Mecklenburg counties that randomly selects mug shots to publish, along with articles about unsolved crimes, missing persons and profiles of most-wanted criminals.

"Someone may see someone in there that – they were the victim of a crime and may see someone in that publication that actually perpetrated it," Sam Pennica, director of the City-County Bureau of Identification, the agency that processes mug shots and fingerprints when people are arrested by a law enforcement agency in Wake County.

CCBI processes about 35,000 mug shots each year.

The newspaper did not return calls from WRAL News Tuesday seeking comment but on its Web site, admits it is also part entertainment. Mug shots, for example, are singled out for things like hair style, age and personal injury.

"It is a public record," Pennica said of the mug shots. "Everyone has the right to it."

Photos are randomly chosen with a reminder that all people featured are innocent until proven guilty.

But local defense attorney Karl Knudsen says that might not be the impression it's leaving with readers.

"To be in the general media, it should be noteworthy – not just because you're charged with something," Knudsen said. "There are many people who are going to equate the fact that if your picture is in there, you've done something wrong."

Duke University legal ethics professor Dr. Kathy Bradley also questions how the public records are being used.

"It's one of those things, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should," she said. "There's no context for what's the other side of this story. What else do we know? There's no balance here, and I think that distinguishes it from a high-profile case."

Some people might not mind, however. Pennica says a few people have asked if their mug shot will end up in "The Slammer."

53 Comments

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  • WRALblows Jul 30, 12:24 p.m.

    "Its free speech. If you don't like it, don't read it."

    Actually it's defamation if someone is published in this rag without a conviction. The Anti Defamation League will have a field day with this when the first lawsuit comes down.

  • coolwill Jul 23, 6:46 p.m.

    I bet you won’t find any of the government officials and officers in this paper. My God do you remember how embarrassing it was for North Carolina with the duke lacrosse team?

  • DasStonecutter Jul 23, 5:06 p.m.

    McDriver - "What is the percentage of folks whose photos are published and are innocent of the crime? I'll bet it isn't even 1%."

    I would wonder if you would feel the same way if you were part of that 1% and your boss or a relative saw your face plastered on the front page. Would you still believe that if something bad happens to only 1% of the people then it is OK for that to happen?

    That being said, I firmly believe in free speech and therefore legally see no issue here. However, morally I am sick.

  • silverflash Jul 23, 3:38 p.m.

    sounds liek what happened to me. 2x by same woman. Charges dismissed BEFORE my arrest! Ulcer.

    "Just because someone is arrested does not mean they are guilty. I know someone who was arrested, but never convicted for the crime, because it turned out there never really was a crime, the person who had them arrested had a personal problem with them and made the whole 'crime' up! Therefore this person was taken to jail and had a 'mugshot' taken, but the charges were thrown out. This also happens when someone presses charges against someone for domestic violence, assault, etc., and the accusing party does not show up to follow through with the charges. How could it be right that their picture be in this magazine, when they really shouldn't have been in jail? Think of how YOU would feel if you were falsely accused of a crime, taken to jail, then had all charges dropped only to find out that your picture is in this magazine, listed with a crime you did not commit and were found innocent of."

  • SouthernLady05 Jul 23, 2:37 p.m.

    I've seen it!

    I know that more and more it's becoming an accomplishment to be in the slammer...

  • oldschooltarheel Jul 23, 2:37 p.m.

    OMG - The Slammer should have a special embellished "Drunk Tank" page for DUIs! Absolutely Scarlet Letter them! I'm thinking old Wild Wild West saloon motif... Come to think of it, they could have a "gangsta" page & most definitely a "hot times" page for johns (especially the johns) & hookers. A "shield your kids & daughters" page for arrested pedophiles & rapists, wife beaters would be spiffy too. This is certainly of higher caliber & of more use to "the public" than WRAL linking the most lurid autopsy reports of recent tragedies.

  • micah Jul 23, 2:11 p.m.

    the national enquirer isn't "gone.": http://www.nationalenquirer.com/

  • momof3inNC Jul 23, 2:01 p.m.

    Just because someone is arrested does not mean they are guilty. I know someone who was arrested, but never convicted for the crime, because it turned out there never really was a crime, the person who had them arrested had a personal problem with them and made the whole 'crime' up! Therefore this person was taken to jail and had a 'mugshot' taken, but the charges were thrown out. This also happens when someone presses charges against someone for domestic violence, assault, etc., and the accusing party does not show up to follow through with the charges. How could it be right that their picture be in this magazine, when they really shouldn't have been in jail? Think of how YOU would feel if you were falsely accused of a crime, taken to jail, then had all charges dropped only to find out that your picture is in this magazine, listed with a crime you did not commit and were found innocent of.

  • DJ of Clayton Jul 23, 1:50 p.m.

    ncwebguy -- Just to let you know, I purchase the Slammer every Friday and I like it. If you don’t want it you don’t have to buy it. I don’t think they are sending them out for free. And they run adds each week in unsolved cases in which they have had the unfortunate death of the young female who was delivering newspapers on Lake Wheeler Road. They have had many unsolved cases with the detective’s contact information and/or the department information. They also have wanted subjects in there and get the public looking. Don’t stand in the dark, we live in a different world. You never know what you neighbor is doing, and if you don’t want to that is your choice. I want to know what is going on so I choose to purchase the Slammer, my choice.

  • ncwebguy Jul 23, 1:34 p.m.

    All of these people who think getting arrested/mugshot/etc. are fortunate Crystal Magnum (sp?) or someone like her didn't file charges, yet. It doesn't matter how good of a life I live if someone else is determined that they need to "get" me.

    With the national enquirer gone, this is what is filling the hole. It is sad that there is a market of people willing to pay for reprinted mug shots to make themselves feel better.

    Have they done anything to solve unsolved mysteries like the pregnant newspaper delivery woman? Or was sketch artists' rendition of the hairdo not funny enough to meet the "random" selection criteria?

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