Wednesday, February 20, 2013

JNS Blog Announces New And Sure-To-Be-Controversial Jailhouse Roster Policies, Including How You (Yes, YOU!!!!!) Can Get Your Name Off My Roster, Maybe...

Creative stock photo, blog post by John Hoff

ADDENDUM, OCTOBER 31, 2014: This policy has now been revoked.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. 


Anonymous said...

Will you be reporting this as income and paying takes? What about child support?

Anonymous said...

This is actually called extortion and there are lawsuits against websites that do this going on right now. So you post bad things about a person then make them pay you to take it down? Wow.

Anonymous said...

Those people with petty arrests are right to plead with you. The idea here is to allow folks to get and maintain jobs and careers not give them more yellow stars to wear, which most likely will only contribute to a destructive cycle. I understand that you're trying to help North and provide another mechanism to deter crime, however, what research do you have that your method is effective and not more harmful?

Anonymous said...

Blackmail, black males. You may have possibly acquired the honor of having to pay this guy back more than the two-fifty he is asking for now.
You, friend, have opened up your own personal Pandora's Box.

Johnny Northside! said...

To the commenter at 11:35.

The idea here? What idea? Whose idea? My idea is to publish useful data for people trying to perform background checks. You have your ideas and I have my ideas.

As for what research I have that my method is effective and not "more harmful," I'm not required to present research before committing acts of free speech and free press. What data do YOU want to present to back up YOUR points?

Johnny Northside! said...

In regard to the commenter who says this is extortion: Yeah, I'd appreciate if you'd provide some links about those lawsuits you say are happening so I won't assume you made it up inside your ass, then pulled it out of your ass.

Anonymous said...

Google "mug shot extortion." In the mug shot cases, it looks like one company is posting them and you have to pay another company to remove them. The two companies are at odds over it. What you are doing is so much worse and. More unethical. I almost regret warning you, I'd love to see everyone you have posted sue you (especially those whose cases were dismissed)

Johnny Northside! said...

I did Google "mug shot extortion" and it doesn't tell me anything about lawsuits.

Furthermore, my PRIMARY PURPOSE is not to raise money but to simply publish the data. Yet after much lobbying by various individuals, much argument, many attempts to sway me, I have decided to create a way where a very small group of individuals could, potentially, get their data removed. I have made this very limited and, indeed, said I won't remove North Minneapolis data at all even though that's A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE.

For somebody to commit extortion, their intent must be to extort. I have no such intent. Indeed, I don't know if anybody will take me up with this offer and I don't care if nobody does.

Anonymous said...

I thought you actually cared about turning North around in a holistic manner, or at least so I thought. Again, how does this help, you have no evidence. If you want to hide behind the First Amendment and use that as your only argument for your method that's fine, but you have to appreciate the consequences in doing so that go along with that for everyone involved. Arrest records don't really mean much, especially those concerning petty events. I would suggest, for better relevance at least, you model your posts based on the crime criteria found in the existing published city crime maps. I personally would find it far more interesting to see possible arrest connections to these crimes than who "spit on the sidewalk" or smoked a blunt. I don't buy your argument of trying to make it easier for people to do background checks. I think that you're doing this out of spite for some reason, and trying to use fear to socially condition Northside's residents. Even though the ethics of your current method could be debated all day, I find them morally reprehensible.

Anonymous said...

If they do, you should require them to donate it to your worthy food cause. That might silence the naysayers and if it doesn't, you still can't lose and might be on to an idea that can be utilized in some manner. You are a bright man.

Anonymous said...

Bright as a little tiny night light bulb with a waning filament. The end is coming... no one know exactly when it will be here.

Anonymous said...

Johnny Northside! said...

Several mugshot websites are being sued for allegedly trying to profit off the mugshots they publish, which are allegedly hurting the reputations of people who are later found innocent.
According to an Ohio class action lawsuit, mugshot websites like,,, and post mugshots of people after they’ve been arrested. So when you search for a person’s name on Google, for example, you may be able to find that person’s mugshot on one of these sites, reports NPR.
However, after a person is later cleared of criminal charges, these websites don’t automatically take down the mugshots or update their websites. Instead, only after the person pays a fee of up to $500 will the websites take down a mugshot, the lawsuit claims. The plaintiffs argue that this profiteering off of mugshots violates their rights over their own images.


Johnny Northside! said...

The lawsuit charges that these mugshot websites violate a person’s right to publicity. Basically, the plaintiffs claim that they have the right to control how their own names and likenesses (i.e., their mugshots) are used in the public domain, similar to how someone would own a copyright or patent, writes NPR.
So while a news outlet may be able to publish a person’s photo as part of a news item, companies like these mugshot websites may not publish such photos for the sole purpose of profiting off them, the lawsuit claims. The suit asserts that the websites’ primary purpose for publishing these mugshot photos is so that those charged with a crime will pay money to remove their pictures.
The lawyer who filed the class-action mugshot website lawsuit hopes to add 250,000 class members. So far, he has two. If the attorney wins the lawsuit, he hopes to recover up to $10,000 for each individual under Ohio’s laws, writes NPR.
Related Resources:

Johnny Northside! said...


Well, what I'm doing differs in a number of ways and I don't necessarily think this lawsuit has a basis or will be successful. A right to control your own image? From a MUGSHOT? What a loser of an argument!

Furthermore, I haven't taken a dime from anybody to remove information, not yet.

We shall see how this lawsuit turns out. Thank you for posting the link.