LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) A popular Facebook page and website, known for sharing mugshots of people booked into the Lee County Detention facility, tells News 3 it will no longer be posting to its Lee County page.
News 3 reached out via FB messenger to “Busted in Auburn and Lee County” after we spoke with Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones about the social media page and website. Sheriff Jones says his office is temporarily suspending its online inmate search to disrupt the group’s practice of making money off mugshots they lift from the sheriff’s web page and smartphone app.
“Busted in Auburn and Lee County” posts mugshots, names, and charges daily of local residents in Lee County, Auburn, Opelika and Smiths Station who have been arrested by local law enforcement agencies.
Sheriff Jones says on the “Busted in Auburn and Lee County” page each mugshot is tied to a removal tab were the arrested individual can pay the group to have the mug shot deleted. Jones says the fee is often around $50.
Sheriff Jones says the sites are run by out of state groups. Jones believes the practice is unethical but says it does not appear to be illegal because the information falls within the public domain.
“We want to assure everyone we don’t condone this and we don’t have a connection to these people. We don’t agree with what they are doing whatsoever. When the individual is released from our facility we take the pictures down from our site,” said Sheriff Jones.
When News 3 reached out to “Busted in Auburn and Lee County” via Facebook messenger, someone operating the page quickly responded with the following message:
“It’s actually free to remove a mugshot, though you can pay to expedite the removal process. It is still a public record whether its posted on a facebook page or the sheriffs own website. The sheriff actually tried claiming it was copyright even though its public information. Either way, it has been decided to not post to our lee county page anymore.” – Busted in Auburn and Lee County
As of Friday late afternoon, a search for the “Busted in Auburn and Lee County” page resulted in a “No data available” message on Facebook. So, there’s a possibility the site has been completely removed. It will be interesting to see if another pops up in its place.
Sheriff Jones says his office will continue working against sites profiting from the arrests of others. He also encourages the community to not support the sites by un-following and not sharing their content.
Meanwhile, the online inmate search tab remains unusable for now. Sheriff Jones says the feature will return soon. Jones says it’s a public service he is not required to share but believes it is useful to the community. Sheriff Jones says the site will go live again soon and mugshots are always available upon request.