We just got our copy of Volume I of the Miami-Dade Edition of the publication, which is, as the name suggests, nothing more than hand-picked mug shots, an accompanying name, and, rarely, a couple of paragraphs of context. Because who doesn't want to see his fellow man at the very moment of his life's lowest point?
Miami-Dade's is the 15th area edition of Mug Shots, a Clearwater-based company that was started in 2007 and has experienced an HGH-esque growth unnatural to newsprint as we know it. The mug shots-as-content model has been criticized in the past for exploiting and implicating arrestees for crimes they haven't been convicted of, but noir-pseudonymed local distributor Bernie Peabody (psst, her real name is Brenda, and she's a 48-year-old Coral Gables mom) toes the company line in its defense. "It's all taken from public records," she says. "All we're doing is making it more accessible."
And infusing it with a strange, tabloid-style sense of sensationalism and humor. The "Florida Crime News" back page is designed to make readers gasp at tales that range from a drunken Key Wester who dragged a "squealing pig named Harriet" on its "back over broken glass" in an effort to "meet women," to a Fort Lauderdale man who "attempted to have sex" with his girlfriend's body after killing her when she "denied him beer." Another page of perps is labeled "Most Wanted Male H.O.E.S.," with the acronym meaning "Hunted Offenders Eluding Surrender." No, that's not an unintentional coincidence. "He tries to make it a little bit light," Peabody says of Mug Shots founder Max Cannon. "Some of the crimes are really horrific, and he tries to put a little bit of humor into them."
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But the magazine, which will be available at convenience stores around the county for a buck, has at its core altruism as a motivation, Peabody declares earnestly: "For one dollar, anybody can make a difference. You never know who's moving in next door. Unfortunately, we do live in a society where we do have to stay vigilant."