A Milwaukee-based tabloid that publishes hundreds of arrest photos every month has been sued for defamation by a woman pictured in the March 2011 issue.
Jamela McLain’s lawsuit, filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, claims Jail House Rocs defamed her by printing her photo and name with the label “fugitive.” The lawsuit says she is not a fugitive and has not been recently arrested.
McLain and her attorney have informed publisher Tony Walker about the inaccurate statements and demanded a retraction, which has not been made, according to the complaint, which seeks punitive damages.
Walker said Monday he recalled talking with McLain, who he said was extremely agitated and using curse words, but not to her attorney. He later called back to say a retraction in fact appeared in the April issue of Jail House Rocs.
Walker said he buys arrest photos from nearly every police agency in southeast Wisconsin, and distributes about 8,000 copies of Jail House Rocs a month. It sells for $2 in gas stations and convenience stores. It features 25 mug shots a page under the heading “You Have the Right to Know! Our #1 goal is to keep our communities informed” and a sub-headline, “RECENT ARREST — Look Who Got BUSTED!”
There is only a photo, name and charge. The right column is filled with undated, summaries of crimes that don’t indicate where they took place.
Some pages include photos of area people on the state’s sex offender registry, the Milwaukee Police Department’s Ten Most Wanted, and some summaries from MPD’s cold case unit, plus a page of ridiculous looking mug shots, in color, without names.
Walker, who is not named personally as a defendant in McLain’s lawsuit, said police get lots of tips from people who read his publication. He said in three years, there have only been two official complaints that led to retractions.