Novel Use of Public Records -- Cincinnati Designers Print 1950s Mug Shots as Notebook Covers

Last week, we commented on NARA’s planned destruction of bankruptcy and federal court records from the period between 1970 and 1995. Be confidant that NARA will undertake the destruction in a manner that actually leads to the records being destroyed. Not so with a number of mug shots from the1950sthat were “destroyed” by the Alameda County (CA) Sheriff’s Department. Rather than shred the mug shots, the department threw them in a dumpster. From the dumpster the photos made their way to a flea market and ultimately into the hands of two Cincinnati-based designers who have digitally altered them (substituting “Cincinnati” for “Alameda County” in the place identifier and enhancing the photos) and are now using them as notebook covers.

Contacted by The New York Times about the matter, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department affirmed that arrest records are public records in California and not subject to copyright but otherwise didn’t address the privacy debate surrounding the mugshot notebooks.

Want a notebook or to learn more about the designers?  Try their Facebook page here.