ADDENDUM, OCTOBER 31, 2014: This policy has now been revoked.
Here's the quickie summary, which contains two parts.
1.) JNS blog will now publish its monthly jailhouse roster feature around the first or second day of the month in hopes of capturing data about bad actors whose alleged crimes tend to happen right after the monthly checks arrive.
2.) Following the example of numerous websites that publish arrest data and mug shots, JNS blog will now offer a way for SOME individuals listed on the roster to have their name removed for a fairly substantial sum...
Regular readers are well aware of this blogger's habit of publishing the Hennepin County Jail Roster and my reasons for it. For technical reasons I don't fully understand, old data in the original roster doesn't appear in Google. So, for example, if you're in jail today, and Googlebots "crawl" the official jail roster, your name will be captured and available to search engines.
But if you're released tomorrow, then your name disappears off the "official" jail roster in roughly 48 hours, so that information will also disappear from Google, more or less. (I think somebody searching the name might get a "hit" and go to the jail roster, but then they won't find the name on the current roster)
So as a public service I've been "capturing" this data once a month and preserving it. That way the information NEVER leaves the internet. Other internet services publish arrest data, but JNS blog is the only local service which publishes the ALLEGED ADDRESS of the arrestees. Neighborhood revitalization revolves around property and street addresses, so this information is particularly useful to the struggle to turn my neighborhood around and make it a better place. And by "better" I suppose I mean less gunfights and more fresh paint. There are those who take issue with my desire to see my neighborhood become THE OPPOSITE OF A GHETTO but the fact I am hated by sex offenders, mortgage fraudsters, and career criminals has never had much of an effect upon me.
I do what I do, and this is what I do.
But today I was thinking about what a short month is February and I had an epiphany. The day I publish the jail roster is more or less random. It has simply coalesced into the twenty-third of the month. When I see the 23rd rolling around, it mentally prompts me. Or around the 23rd somebody on North Talk Facebook page says something about jail and I remember, oh, geez! It's about time to publish the roster again.
But today, while in the shower literally washing off my own blood after a particularly hard but rewarding day, I was thinking about how much of this short month was left and it occurred to me...
What if I started to publish the roster right after the madness associated with the monthly checks? Around the 2nd or the 3rd? Or earlier if a federal holiday makes "payday" come on the 30th? Then I might publish on the 31st.
Oh, sure, some folks tell me crimes aren't committed around the first of the month so much as the 29th, the 30th, the 31st. In other words, when the money has run out and individuals grow desperate enough to commit crimes to get themselves all the way to the first of the month. Well, I figure if the crimes are serious enough those names will PROBABLY be in the roster come the 1st, the 2nd, the 3rd of the month.
In any case, to make the jailhouse roster more effective I have decided to pick a date rooted in the rational rather than the random. And February is a short month, so I will make use of that this month.
So now for my second point...
Almost every month I get some kind of long, whining and ultimately outraged email exchange saying something like, "Oh, gee, I got arrested for smoking dope in front of a friend's house and now my new degree in accounting isn't worth much because the first thing that pops up with my name is my arrest record."
I have turned down one plea after another along these lines. But after a while I noticed a pattern. It's always the marginal cases making such a plea. I never get an email saying, "I'm accused of murder and it's ruining my life. Please remove my name which is on your jail roster."
Furthermore, I see all kinds of online services publishing (for example) mug shots and offering to remove that info from the internet for a particular sum of money. This kind of thing has been happening for a while and yet, so far as I know, none of these services have been successfully sued for committing what seems to me (at first blush) like a high tech form of blackmail.
And, the more I think about it, the more it seems like paying to remove negative information about yourself from the internet is a sensible fine or penalty. But what really convinces me is the fact that, of the two dozen or so pleas I have received to remove info, EVERY ONE OF THEM was a marginal case. Oh, sure, some of the individuals had OTHER arrests or convictions when I took the time to dig into their background, out of curiously. But even THOSE arrests and convictions were, once again, relatively minor.
Truthfully, I have no idea whether my removal of a name from a jailhouse roster (to be replaced, I would think, with a row of XXXXXXXXXXXX) would make any difference to search engines. Maybe the name would still turn up in Google caches after my publication.
I honestly don't know.
But as any halfway net-literate person knows, what MATTERS is the first ten things that pop up in a search.
So, as an experiment (which might actually be called off if I think the experiment is going in the wrong direction) I am going to offer to remove names from my republication of jailhouse rosters. I will do this for a mere $250. For that amount, I will go into a roster (or up to three rosters, but no more than three) and I will replace a name, address, date, etc. with a row of XXXXXXXXXXXX.
The fact is I can't do a damn thing about how my data appears in Google caches or search engines. I can't guarantee my removal of the name will have ANY results, other than the fact I will do what is asked of me and remove the name. If removal of the name has no effect due to the fact other services have "picked up" the name from my publication of the name, that's tough.
But people keep BEGGING for this opportunity to have their name removed from my jail roster so, well, fine. I will give it a shot and see how it goes.
The money will have to be sent via PayPal. I'm not going to handle anybody's personal checks and get rubber all over my hands. And don't go sending money until I actually agree to something with you by email because you won't get your stupid money back if you send it ASSUMING I will just remove your name upon receipt of money without a conversation or anything.
FURTHERMORE, guess what? This offer doesn't apply to ANYBODY whose address on the jail roster is a NORTH MINNEAPOLIS ADDRESS. I don't care if you were arrested for SPITTING ON THE SIDEWALK. This offer is only good for names with addresses listed OUTSIDE of my neighborhood where we are struggling with crimes of livability.
AND FURTHERMORE, this offer is not good for anybody accused of a sex offense or a crime of violence. Don't even bother asking. I'll probably just go out of my way to dig up criminal complaints about you because you'll get my goat.
Yeah, I think that about covers everything.
Now back to our regularly scheduled stories of neighborhood struggle, heartache and sometimes even triumph.