The Wyoming House Judiciary Committee on Monday signed off on legislation that would prohibit the release of arrest mugshots in most cases where the person in the photo has not been convicted.

But the committee did amend the bill with language to make clear that mugshots can be released when there is a valid law enforcement reason for doing so.

You can read House Bill 51 here.

The vote in committee was 5-4, and the bill now goes on to the full Wyoming House of Representatives.

The committee heard testimony on Monday from Rock Springs businessman Wing Lew, who told the committee about his arrest for DUI in 2020.

Lew said that even though a blood test that was taken when he was arrested later cleared him of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, his mugshot had already been published by a newspaper, hurting his reputation in the community and possibly his business as well.

Lew noted that while newspapers and media websites run arrest photos, they rarely follow up with information that people have been cleared of the charges.

In discussion, the bill was amended to allow for the release of a mugshot for a person not convicted for a legitimate law enforcement purpose. Rep. Art Washut [R-Natrona County] argued in committee that prohibiting the release of mugshots would not alleviate the damage done to someone like Wing Lew because simply publishing the information--even if a mugshot is not used--would inflict the same damage on the person's reputation.

But Rep. Mike Yin [D-Teton County] argued against that idea, saying that if someone is named Adam Smith or some other common name, a mugshot may indeed damage a specific person's reputation more than simply a name in a police report.

Here is how the committee voted on House Bill 51 in committee:

For: Reps. Oakley, Provenza, Yin, Zwonitzer, Olsen

Against: Reps. Washut, Crago, Rodriguez-Williams, Laursen.

House Bill 51 is sponsored by Rep. Chad Banks [D-Sweetwater County].

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