Mental Illness: The Dark Underbelly of the Mugshot “Humor” Industry
Some people with mental illnesses struggle with rules, regulations and conformity. They may miss a medication dose and have a break with reality, and their behavior may make them a target of law enforcement agents. Even while on medications, they may find it hard to control their emotions and they may lash out at the people around them as a result. It’s not surprising, then, that people with mental illnesses face a high rate of arrests. In fact, in a survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 41 percent of those with mental illnesses had been arrested at least once.
When people like this are arrested, they’re processed just like any other person who’s accused of a crime: They’re photographed, fingerprinted, booked and then prepared for prosecution. Often, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, people with mental illnesses are wrongfully convicted of crimes, as they want to please the authority figures that arrest them. Cases of wrongful conviction are horribly sad, and most people who read about cases like this feel a deep sense of shame, loss and pity. Even so, people might not think twice about laughing at so-called “dumb” criminals, who may very well be mentally ill.
Websites like the Huffington Post publish collections of mugshots for public consumption. Often, the photographs and accompanying details of the crime suggest that the people in these photos aren’t quite functioning at full capacity. For example, one man shown without a shirt, with a sneering and confused expression, was arrested after throwing a hammer at construction workers and then hiding in a shed. The Huffington Post makes a “hammertime” joke along with this photo, but is it really funny? Doesn’t the man need help instead? Similarly, they posted a photograph of a crying, screaming mugshot taken after an arrest for indecent exposure, during which the woman gave responses to questions that didn’t quite make sense. Again, is this funny or is it cruel?
Sometimes, people with mental illnesses are arrested due to their conditions, and they’re placed in protective custody so they can’t harm themselves or other people. These people may not take amusing mugshots, but they are still placed on mugshot sites (see this entry and this entry on Mugshots.com). These photos might easily be pulled into “mentally ill” compilations, and again, used for humorous purposes. If these people want to move past a regrettable incident caused by their medical conditions, they might find that difficult, as the mugshot might always remain online.
In a perfect world, people who have mental illnesses wouldn’t be arrested. Instead, they’d be provided with the proper psychiatric help that could allow them to understand and care for their very real medical conditions so they won’t run into community trouble in the future. But until that happens, we’re here to help. We can delete mugshot photographs rapidly, ensuring that a family’s private pain doesn’t become part of a public form of bad behavior. InternetReputation.com is a mugshot removal company that specializes in removing mugshots and private information from the Internet.