Mugshot background : what called mugshot background ?

Mugshot Background: An overview & analysis


The traditional mugshot background was a blank, white wall. This is done to provide a neutral backdrop that will not distract from the person’s face. The wall is also typically painted a light color to ensure that the person’s features are clearly visible to viewers.

However, there are also other types of mug-shot backgrounds that are sometimes used. For example, some police departments use a gray background, which is said to be less harsh than a white background. Other departments use a solid color background, such as blue or green. Some departments also use a patterned background, such as a checkerboard or a grid so it varies accordingly.

The type of mugshot background that is used is typically determined by the department’s policy whichever is as per law and rules. That’s why There is no right or wrong answer, and the best background is the one that will provide the clearest and most accurate image of the person.

Here are some of the most common types of mugshot backgrounds popular around the world:

  • Blank white wall: This is the most common type of mugshot background. It is used because it is neutral and does not distract from the person’s face itself.
  • Gray wall: This background is less harsh color than a white background and is sometimes used by police departments to identify suspects and criminals
  • Solid color background: In some states, police departments use a solid color background, such as blue or green. This can be done to create a more uniform look or to match the department’s branding.
  • Patterned background: Some departments use a patterned background, such as a checkerboard or a grid. This can be done to add interest to the image or to make it more difficult to identify the person.
  • Custom background: Some departments allow people to choose their own mug shot background. This can be done for personal reasons, such as to include a family member.

No matter what type of mugshot background is used, it is important that it is neutral and does not distract from the person’s face. The goal of a mugshot is to provide a clear and accurate image of the person, so the background should not obscure their features.

Why mugshots are taken?

Mugshots are taken for a number of reasons, including:

  • To create a photographic record of the person. This can be used for identification purposes of the person concerned, such as if the person is wanted for a crime or if they are a witness to a crime whatever the matter.
  • To help law enforcement identify the person. Mugshots are often included in mug books, which are collections of photographs of criminals collectively. This allows law enforcement to compare a mugshot to a witness’s description of a suspect.
  • To document the person’s appearance at the time of arrest. This can be helpful in case the person’s appearance changes over time, such as if they grow a beard or lose weight as time passes.
  • To deter future criminal activity. Some people believe that the negative publicity associated with a mugshot can deter people from committing crimes.
  • To comply with legal requirements. In some jurisdictions, law enforcement is required to take a mugshot of every person who is arrested in a legal matter.

In the United States, mugshots are considered public records and can be released to the media or the public. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, mugshots of juveniles are often not released to the public as per law.

Mugshots can be a sensitive issue for some people. They can be seen as a way of publicly shaming the person, and they can also be used to discriminate against people. However, mugshots are an important tool for law enforcement, and they can play a valuable role in the criminal justice system. They should not be used to defame a person unlawfully.

When was the term mug shot first used?

The term “mug shot” was first used in the early 1950s, but the practice of taking photographs of arrested suspects dates back much earlier. In the 1840s, prisoners in Belgium jail were photographed so they could be identified if they committed crimes after their sentences ended. In the 1880s, Alphonse Bertillon, a French criminologist, developed a system of criminal identification that included taking photographs of suspects from two different angles. This system was soon adopted by police departments around the world, and the term “mug shot” became the common name for these photographs across the globe.

The word “mug” is an English slang term for “face”, dating from the 18th century. So, the term “mug shot” literally means “a shot of the face”.

The first known use of the term “mug shot” in print was in a 1950 article in the American Journal of Police Science. The article was about the use of mug shots in criminal identification, and the author used the term to refer to the photographs of suspects that were taken by police departments.

Since then, the term “mug shot” has become the standard term for these photographs, and it is used in the United States and other English-speaking countries across the globe.

There are a few different theories about why the term “mug shot” came to be used. One theory is that it is a shortened form of the phrase “mug up”, which means “to study or memorize”. This theory is based on the idea that suspects would often study their mug shots in order to learn how to identify themselves to police officers.

Another theory is that the term “mug shot” is a reference to the mug jug, a type of drinking vessel that was popular in the 1800s. The mug jug was often decorated with a portrait of the person who owned it. This theory is based on the idea that mug shots are similar to mug jugs in that they both depict the faces of people.

Whatever the origin of the term, “mug shot” is now the standard term for photographs of suspects that are taken by police departments around the world and a part of law enforcement work

Reference and citation :

Lashmar, P. (2013). How to humiliate and shame: a reporter’s guide to the power of the mugshot. Social Semiotics, 24(1), 56–87.

Cutler, B. L., Penrod, S. D., & Martens, T. K. (1987). The reliability of eyewitness identification: The role of system and estimator variables. Law And Human Behavior, 11(3), 233–258.

Pellicer, R. (2010). Mug shots: An Archive of the Famous, Infamous, and Most Wanted. Harry N. Abrams, 2010

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