From time to time, we receive questions about the Kansas Open Records Act. One reader wants to know if mug shots from the jail are public record after someone is arrested.
According to the Kansas Open Record Act, they are not. However, they or not mandatorily closed, and may be released to the public at the discretion of the agency. The Kansas Department of Corrections maintains a website with mug shots of many of its inmates, and local law enforcement routinely provides the Great Bend Tribune with mug shots, if requested.
This brings to mind another question, that came earlier this year after a teenage boy’s arrest was reported. The Tribune by choice does not usually print the names of juveniles who are arrested, but these are not automatically closed records. In this case, even though the young man’s arrest was public record, we did not intentionally publish his name. Had we realized he was under 18, that particular arrest — for a minor offense — would not have been reported.
The newspaper and the jail have since taken voluntary steps to prevent this from happening again.
Some records are mandatorily closed, including juvenile court records, juvenile law enforcement records and juvenile municipal court records for children under 14 years of age if ordered closed by a judge. Records on victims of sex offense by a juvenile are mandatorily closed.
Traffic accident reports are public, even if the driver is a juvenile.
Going back even further, we don’t usually publish the names of people under 18 years old who are arrested for underage drinking, known as Minor In Consumption. But one year, when the fate of a group of MIC’s became the subject of a special school board meeting to decide whether they could attend graduation, the Tribune covered the meeting, reporting the names.
Sometimes adults ask us to keep their arrests out of the paper. Our answer is that we try to report in a way that’s fair to everyone, and that means we treating everyone the same. If a name appears on the jail’s "media log" or the municipal court’s list of convictions, that name will be printed in the paper.
The rules on what’s public and what isn’t have changed over the years. When I first came to the Great Bend Tribune, hospitals would provide us with the names of patients who were admitted each day. Those who didn’t want their names in the paper would have to take the initiative to opt out. In that respect, it was kind of like some Internet social media sites.
More on TV food shows
Recently we answered a reader’s question about what happens to the food used to produce TV cooking shows. The answer, which appeared in the Aug. 29 edition of the
Great Bend Tribune, came from KSN TV’s Barbara Baan, who has a weekly cooking segment called "Baan Appetit."
It took a little longer to get a response from a nationally syndicated chef, but on Thursday we received an e-mail from Caryl Ginsburg Fantel, vice president of publishing and communications for "Mr. Food." Culinary expert Art Ginsburg, aka "Mr. Food," can be seen on KAKE TV.
"You can tell your readers that we don’t know what other programs do, but we let our production team taste all the finished foods that we use on our show, and we even share it for lunch," Fantel writes. "Of course, when we tape a bunch of dessert shows at the same time, that doesn’t work out so great — unless you have a sweet tooth! We ‘repurpose’ the fresh produce (yes, if it looks like it’s fresh, it is), using it in numerous shows and then in our test kitchen. Naturally, anything ‘in progress’ or finished that has stayed out for a while has to get tossed. A few times a year we go through our inventory and donate non-perishables to food pantries but, you’re right, they generally can’t accept prepared items.
"Thanks for asking!"
Good Question by Susan Thacker is a feature of the Great Bend Tribune. Readers send the questions; we do the research and try to provide answers. Send questions to the Tribune, P.O. Box 228, Great Bend, KS 67530, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.