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Counting With Fingers

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2003
3 pages
This article describes a new portable biometric system expected to be available commercially by late 2003 for use in the daily counting and identification of inmates.
BWX Technologies, which operates the Y-12 National Security Complex of the U.S. Department of Energy in Oak Ridge, TN, has joined with the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center-Southeast to develop a portable biometric identification scanner that correctional officers can use to scan inmates' fingerprints and send them back to a central database. The central unit will check the fingerprint for a match in the database and then send back the inmate's mug shot for visual verification in less than 5 seconds. When all officers have completed their scanning rounds, the central unit will produce a report that either indicates all inmates are present in the facility or listing specific inmates who are missing from the count. Although the time required for a single count under this system may not be much faster than a manual count, its ability to identify any inmates missing from the count eliminates the need for second counts and roll call counts, which are required if there are any discrepancies in manual counts. The system's database can store all 10 fingerprints for each inmate, allowing a correctional officer to choose any finger at random, thus making it difficult for inmates to alter or fake all 10 fingerprints. Initially, field testing of the system began in a correctional facility work center, which did not have large amounts of concrete and metal. Testing is continuing at a number of other facilities that have various security levels.

Date Published: January 1, 2003