RAPID CITY, S.D. — Mug shots of felon inmates in South Dakota are now available to be sold to the public.

Under a new law that took effect Saturday, law enforcement entities are allowed to charge a fee per photo released. The fee was set at $8 per photo in Pennington and Minnehaha counties.

South Dakota is the 49th state to categorize certain mug shots as public records, leaving Louisiana as the only state that does not.

The law allows only the release of mug shots related to felony arrests, whether the individual is incarcerated or not, and only within a period of the last six months.

Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom told the Rapid City Journal reports that he would have preferred to be able to release the photos for free, as is commonly done in neighboring states like North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. But he said the $8 fee is necessary because his staff will have to spend 30 to 60 minutes a day updating and maintaining the database where the photos will be stored.

Some online entrepreneurs have formed a cottage industry in recent years around collecting mug shots, selling them, and in some instances, charging hundreds of dollars to have them removed from the internet.

Thom and Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said charging a fee will make it harder for those kinds of websites to gain a foothold in South Dakota.

“There will be people who are innocent or who have charges dismissed or who are found not guilty whose mug shots will live forever on these search engines unless they pay, sometimes a considerable amount of money, for them to be taken off,” Milstead said.

Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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