An illegal immigrant held on complaints he stabbed a Tulsa man to death. A man arrested in the rape of an 11-year-old girl. Family members accused of leading a large-scale, drug-trafficking operation between Tulsa and Mexico. A police officer suspected of informing a drug suspect of an upcoming search warrant.
Mug shots of these inmates taken at the Tulsa County jail have never been seen by the public. The federal government protects the mug shots of its inmates citing the right to privacy. The federal practice is in contrast to the state’s Open Records Act interpretation, which considers jail mug shots a public document. That means people arrested for violating state laws will have their mug shots made available. But the photos of people detained by federal officials stay secret. If a person is arrested on state and federal complaints, the mug shot is not released. In practice, a college student arrested for public intoxication will have a mug shot publicly available while the face of a suspected multistate drug leader or identity theft mastermind remains unseen by the public. "Arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and ridiculous is how I would describe it,” said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "It’s the federal Privacy Act run amok.”
Requests deniedTulsa World requests for mug shots of federal inmates at the Tulsa County jail have been consistently denied. The practice is to post mug shots on the jail’s Web site of all inmates except those held for federal agencies or juveniles, said Undersheriff Brian Edwards. "All we do is house inmates for the respective federal agencies,” Edwards said. "It’s up to them to release information on their inmates.” The Tulsa World requested mugshots of six inmates indicted in March 2008 on complaints of smuggling marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine between the Mexican border and Tulsa area.