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Making Glamour Shots Out of Mug Shots
By Judith A. Yates
Published: 07/16/2012

Mug shot I was at a friend’s wedding shower when someone asked me what I did for a living. When I explained I worked in a prison, someone stated her daughter worked in a California prison as a nurse: “The same prison where Charles Manson is!” The party ooh’ed and aah’ed at this tidbit of information. I was asked if I had ever worked with anyone “famous.” I told them 1,400 ‘Charles Mansons’ surrounded me every day.

Society and the media tend to make famous criminals and certain famous come from criminals. Guns used by petty thieves Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker are about to go on the auction block; it is estimated they will sell for $10,000 - $20,000 apiece. On Murderabilia.com people can bid for, and buy, autographs of killers. More people recognize Al Capone than the face of the Vice President. Music stars will brag of their criminal history, and flash gang signs, on public television.

In his book, The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker explains a certain criminal mindset, “Better to be wanted by the police than not wanted by anyone.” The same can be said of inmates who have a bit of notoriety taped to their name. “He wants what America wants: recognition, and he wants what all people want: significance… violence is the fastest way to get identity.” Inmates had power on the street: power over life, power in a gang, power by use of force or intimidation. Packed into an institution with 1,299 other persons, dressing and looking almost exactly alike, moving in tandem, doing the exact same thing day in and day out, their identity is lost. If someone comes along and writes a book about their illegal activity, or interviews them, or wants their autograph, if someone labels them – ‘The Memphis Strangler,’ ‘The ABC Killer’ – now they have regained power. Now they have identity. Now the issue is to ensure corrections employees do not buy into their self-proclaimed stardom.

I met a young officer with a high school education; he was in awe of an inmate who had several PhDs and appeared in several books. “He’s so smart,” the officer fairly gushed. “You could just listen to him all day.” An officer I mentored attempted to befriend inmates who were in a notorious Italian mafia; they were characterized in a popular major motion picture. These officers need serious training or do not need to work in this field; they are prime for causing problems.

Society and the media love to create interesting people out of criminals, for it sells copy and news. Inmates will believe they are ‘stars’ because the media and society has told them so. Correctional employees must ensure we do not buy into this; we must treat these inmates the same as others, or it could cause a multitude of problems. A mug shot is not a glamour shot.

Corrections.com author, Judith Yates, is a criminologist who has lectured on domestic violence prevention for over 20 years. A former Correctional Officer Specialist and trainer with the Bureau of Prisons, she is now a true crime writer and a trainer available for guest speaking engagements. She can be reached at judithayates@yahoo.com



Other articles by Judith A. Yates:


Comments:

  1. hamiltonlindley on 04/10/2020:

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  2. hamiltonlindley on 03/24/2020:

    He has blue eyes. Cold like steel. His legs are wide. Like tree trunks. And he has a shock of red hair, red, like the fires of hell. His antics were known from town to town as he was a droll card and often known as a droll farceur. Hamilton Lindley with his madcap pantaloon is a zany adventurer and a cavorter with a motley troupe of buffoons.

  3. hamiltonlindley on 03/24/2020:

    He has blue eyes. Cold like steel. His legs are wide. Like tree trunks. And he has a shock of red hair, red, like the fires of hell. His antics were known from town to town as he was a droll card and often known as a droll farceur. Hamilton Lindley with his madcap pantaloon is a zany adventurer and a cavorter with a motley troupe of buffoons.

  4. Sohailkhatri on 02/05/2020:

    This process of creating custom mugs no minimum with logo underwent technology and not through the hands of man.

  5. Fred Davis on 08/01/2012:

    Correction: G Stanly Hall

  6. Fred Davis on 08/01/2012:

    I think I have the answer, all jokes aside. Since many in the Criminal Justice system (including some inmates) basically have followed the lies and myths of Darwinism and the "manufactured" drawings conjured up to deceive other individuals into believing that the shape of the head could predict future criminal activity and that myth, that could very well be the causal factor. This means the "Mug shots" are deliberately taken where the head looks like an egg and many times the slanted forehead is emphasized. The "pin heads" create "egg heads" and slanted foreheads. E Stanley Hall and Haeckel are probably rolling over in their graves today laughing because of these fake drawings If we believe we came from monkeys, the acting under those myths are acceptable and even glorified. What kind of lens do the authorities use to create this egg head slanted forehead type image? Do they send them through photo shop before putting them on public display?

  7. Fred Davis on 07/19/2012:

    Barney Frank marries his male companion ans he gets a photo op. Some of us really have charisma.

  8. spmaguire on 07/18/2012:

    It always amazes me the number of inmates who use their mugshot as their facebook picture. We post on the internet public booking information along with the front face shot of all inmates booked into the jail. When they get out they use their mugshot as their facebook picture. I guess it validates their existance.

  9. Fred Davis on 07/17/2012:

    Being infamous by perception rather than famous. It keeps superficial characters away like those obsessed with sports and the artsy fartsy types. Manson was hot air. No one should fear him. He was hiding under the sink when the police arrived. Drugs always make people feel macho. Why do mug shot make the head look like an egg? Is there some sort of subliminal message there?

  10. irish assassin on 07/16/2012:

    Good article


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