Michigan Mugshots

Crime, Arrest, and Incarceration Rates

Michigan ranks 35th for crime and corrections in the United States. The state has an incarceration rate of 641 people in every 100,000 residents, a ratio slightly below the national average of 698. Currently, Michigan has over 250,000 residents behind bars or under criminal justice supervision. These include 172,000 persons under probation, 17,000 under parole, 40,000 inmates in state prisons, 5,600 in federal prisons, and another 17,000 in local jails.

The crime trend in Michigan indicates an average of 4.3 violent crimes per 1,000 people and 18 property crimes per 1,000 people in the last decade. Twelves of the 84 counties in the state average between 5,000 to 40,000 arrests annually. These counties include Berrien, Calhoun, Genesee, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Kent, Macomb, Muskegon, Oakland, Saginaw, Washtenaw, and Wayne. Indeed, an arrest is the individual's first interaction with the criminal justice system, the state's 571 law enforcement agencies make more than 220,000 arrests annually.

Public Access to Mugshots and Arrest Records

Statistics outlined above are garnered from the bookings of every arrest made. The booking process is the creation of an arrest record which includes mugshots. In accordance with Michigan's Freedom of Information Act, mugshots and other arrest records are public documents accessible to all citizens. The Act does not specify any legitimate intent to requesting mugshots and/or arrest records and provides no limit to a requestor’s purpose. Historically, mugshots are collated from law enforcement agencies and published in local media as a deterrent to crime. That narrative has changed with modern technology and social dynamics.

Michigan is not one of the 18 states in the United State with a specific law regulating internet mugshots. This lack of regulation affords some mugshot aggregating websites the leeway to perpetuate their business of charging removal fees. Citizens who require the removal of their booking photographs from these private websites are charged an exorbitant price for such service. A practice that has generated a raging national debate on the need to restrict public access to arrest records.

Without such restriction in Michigan, citizens with mugshots published on these commercial websites have got limited options to fend off the exploitation of the publishers. A step in the right direction is to appeal for the expunction of such an arrest record from the relevant law enforcement agency’s database. Michigan laws (Section 780.621) provided for expunging records of eligible ex-offenders with two misdemeanors or one felony. To further facilitate the complex expungement process, Michigan lawmakers recently introduced a package of six bills. This package is targeted to automate record sealing for certain offenses and expand expungement to ex-offender with multiple felonies and low-level traffic offenses.

The process of getting a record expunged in Michigan costs a $50 fee and involves several steps including rolling fingerprints, getting the application notarized, and mailing copies to prosecutors and law enforcement agencies. If you have had an arrest history in Michigan, you will find resources here on locating your mugshots, obtaining the relevant arrest history records, discovering the sealing/expungement process in the county of your arrest and contacting the right local authorities to help expungement such records.

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