At Very Short List, Luc Sante recommends some truly stunning mug shots from early-20th-century Australia:
Unlike the mug-shot convention of portraying the subject head-on and in profile, the protocols were much looser, so that the accused were sometimes pictured once in close-up and once full-length. And the setting was often a courtyard with a skylight, which softened the contrast. Most important, though, the person behind the camera was someone who recognized the humanity of the varied persons who appeared before the lens, who were sometimes monsters and sometimes innocents, but all of whom deserved consideration. (If not always sympathy; in some shots the photographer apparently declared his or her distaste for the subjects by positioning them in front of the toilets.)Three examples below, but check out the whole amazing gallery at this French web site.