Friday, November 23, 2007

Free Mugshots for Shelby County

We've been collecting mugshots from the web since August of last year. Some of the photos aren't real good quality, and some of that is my fault. I was embedding the inmate's name and rni number in the reserved area of the jpeg files, and the SCSO went to a different format yada yada yada. Oh well, the site is now up and running and totally free for use. You just enter the first and last name and type the name that is displayed on the icon next to the last text input box, then click submit.

Personally, I think the Sheriff's Office should make these photos available after a person is released, but they don't. When I worked for the SCSO, I tried to make that available to the public, but they didn't see it my way. Maybe since I'm archiving the photos and making them available, they'll have a change of heart. There are other things they could do that would help enable public access, like allowing you to pull a rap sheet on each person. I know they have the code for that, because I gave it to some of their techies and they use it now to display the charge and booking information.

I'll keep this site up and make it freely available for public access so long as people don't try to use this as a free site to run their business. If I detect someone hammering the site, I'll deny those ip addresses access and probably redirect their traffic to google or somewhere.

Anyway here is the link and it's also on the panel on the right.

5 comments:

Coachwkr@gmail.com said...

How do I get those arrests records like you have posted? I am a teacher who is sick of the thug problem in schools. I always see former students in jail. I would like to track their criminal histories. Thanks for any help.

Coachwkr@gmail.com

John Harvey said...

Coach,

You can go to the Criminal Court Clerk’s website at http://jssi.co.shelby.tn.us/ . The site is marginally better than nothing. I am hoping to get the public to put a little pressure on them to make the interface a little more user friendly, but that may just be a pipe-dream.

John Harvey

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of problems with the JSSI website, no doubt. What would it take to get them to implement some of your ideas? I know you've given us the email address and contact information regarding the posting of mugshots even after the people are released, but what other things are "doable" that we could ask them to do?

One thing that really bugs me about JSSI is that I have to refresh the page after clicking on a link. Let's say I'm looking for "John Smith" but am not sure of the date of birth, booking number etc. I assume he's around 50 and try one John Smith. I can't back up and try another one if that's not the right guy. Or, if I get lucky and click the right John Smith, I can't click on one of his booking numbers, then back up and follow another one. I have to reload the page everytime. Am I doing something wrong or is it JSSI?

I'm not sure of the technical terms but if you'd give us some guidance, Mr. Harvey, I'm sure a lot of people would begin making these requests to make JSSI more user friendly.

On the other hand, I would like to compliment the Shelby County Sheriff's Department on even having this service. There are many cities and counties where even something as "marginally" helpful as JSSI isn't available.

I don't know the cost of improving the JSSI website but would not think it would be prohibitive to make some improvements. If you'll give us the "buzz words" I'll try to get the word out to as many people as I know who regularly use JSSI and see if we can't get them to do something.

Thanks, John Harvey, for the time and energy you devote to this site and bringing us information on how to maybe make Shelby County a safer place to live.

We may not agree on everything all the time but I can say if everyone cared as much as you do about making the streets and neighborhoods of our community safer, we'd all be better off. I thank you for your efforts.

John Harvey said...

"On the other hand, I would like to compliment the Shelby County Sheriff's Department on even having this service. There are many cities and counties where even something as "marginally" helpful as JSSI isn't available."

Thanks for the kudos on the SCSO's websites. I designed and wrote the original sites. They have since redone them to the same specs using PHP and some of my SQL code. JSSI is a product of the county Information Technology group. I've spoken with them about some of the problems, but my suggestions have fallen on deaf ears.

I'm planning to put together a "prototype" with some dummy data that will demonstrate what should be done, and hopefully people can look at it and steal some of the ideas. Who knows they might even come up with better ideas. It will probably take me a few weeks to get around to doing something on this, and once it's done, I'll try to get Mike Fleming to help convince the powers that be to make data access more user friendly.

A few of my ideas are:
1. Expose the arrest tickets (redacted for ssn and other personal identifiers) to the public.
2. Create a webservice on the JSSI site that links the arrest ticket, the mugshots and the court information all together and displays the most recent arrests first, then displays a grid which can contain at least 100 records. (There is way too much paging through the system as it is today)
3. I think the court clerks/county IT should create business accounts and charge the people that hammer their systems (which is why they make it so difficult now). They should also let a casual user do queries for free, even though they would probably need to create an account which is accessed via email address and password.

I'll have more to say on this over the next few weeks.

Thanks for your comments. You don't have to agree with me, but at least present a good argument for your position. I'm not always right, but I usually bring a fairly logical argument to the table. I only ask that others do the same.

Anonymous said...

This site is great. It has helped keep our company from hiring criminals making it a safer work environment. Has also saved us alot of time and money doing background checks. Keep up the great work.