South Dakota mugshots available starting July 1, process different than neighboring states

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - This past legislative session, South Dakota became the 49th state to make mugshots public, but the process to request them is complicated. Neighboring states, Minnesota and Iowa, have fully public mugshots that are available, online and for free, something South Dakota won't be doing.

"For us to get those photos for our records management -- we do the exact same thing as what the public does although they do send it to us via email and snail mail," said Rock County, Minnesota Sheriff Evan Verbrugge.

It's the way Rock County has always done things. Mugshots are produced in Nobles County at the jail, then posted online to the inmates list. They're widely available for the public and the press to access as soon as someone is arrested and booked.

"We'll either get that from the jail and then distribute that appropriate or it's put onto an inmate list on the jail website," Verbrugge explained.

In Iowa, the mugshots are distributed the same way. Available on county jails' websites and easily accessible to anyone who needs or wants them.

Starting Saturday in South Dakota, the process will require a little more work for law enforcement and for the person requesting a mugshot.

"We need to go look -- was it a Minnehaha county arrest? Was it a felony arrest? Is that the person?" said Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead. "There's a lot of personal verification that needs to occur before we print out or send out that mugshot."

In order for the states' county sheriffs departments to look up a mugshot, someone will have to request it first -- in person at the Sheriff's office -- and it won't be free.

"We've got a form there they can fill out they can pay $8 in cash or they can use a credit card with a convenience fee and get the mugshot either emailed to them or we'll make a color copy," Milstead explained.

It's a flat fee that all sheriffs' departments across the state will charge, hoping to deter people from getting mugshots for free and posting them online, where they're disseminated even further.

"You can have someone who's arrested that's found not guilty that will have a mugshot online forever unless they pay a substantial amount of money to get that removed," Milstead said. "And that's a problem."

But Verbrugge disagrees.

"Try to just avoid getting arrested and you won't really have that issue," he said.

The public and media can begin requesting mugshots starting Saturday, July 1. If you request a mugshot on the weekend in Minnehaha County, you will have to go to the Minnehaha County Jail and the arrest will have to have occurred in the last 24-48 hours.

Mugshots will only be disseminated for felonies and can only be requested for six months after the person was arrested. That should be done Monday through Friday at the Minnehaha County Sheriff's Office.

Milstead said the process is extensive because of the way the legislation was written. Law enforcement can only release the photo of the felon from the date and specific felony a person requests, however, that person may have been arrested on other felony charges or even misdemeanors, and have another more current mugshot on file, so someone will have to sift through to find the one from the correct date and crime.

Milstead said he and the other county sheriffs across the state will look at automating the process and potentially reducing the cost, but because of the fact that they can only release that specific mugshot, he said he worries automating the process will be difficult.