ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Putting a face with a crime is about to become a whole lot easier in Winnebago Count because the sheriff is planning to put all inmate mugshots online.
The online system will be up and running by the middle of next month. Once someone is booked into jail their mugshot will go into a public database;the minute they get out of jail the picture will be deleted.
Winnebago County Sheriff Richard Meyers says he initially had some concerns about posting pictures of first-time offenders waiting for trial, but the law says all mugshots are public so why not put them online. The site will look like this one from Polk County, Iowa (see video). It will show a picture, a name, a birth date, and what the person is charged with. The site will be linked from the sheriff's website.
Meyers said, "It's just a method of making it easier on everybody and making it more available to the general public without having to come down here and ask or whatever if you can get it online and go view it, it's a better thing."
The sheriff told me he doesn't think the website will make criminals think twice, but it will make the jail more transparent. The county's information technology department is setting up the website so it's automatically updated--that's why it's not costing much money.
Today there are just under a thousand people in the jail. More than 90 percent of them are there on felony charges.