Fingerprinting High Tech Style

The cross match live scan puts everything officer Anne McAdams needs to know about a prisoner right at her fingertips. The machine asks for the standard information like name and birth date,  and extra details like scars, marks or tattoos. McAdams took our photographer's fingers, placed them on the pad and then scanned them in front of a camera. Then she saves them. "See, very nice ridges."

McAdams says computerized fingerprinting sure beats the old way of using ink which is messy and often smudges. "If you make a mistake you can immediately go back and change it and there's not ink involved and you don't have to have a new card, it's just on the screen, the computer screen itself," says McAdams.

The prints are sent to the Criminal Information Center in Jackson. In just minutes, deputies know if the prisoner is wanted anywhere else in Mississippi or the country. Sheriff Mike Ballard says the high tech equipment is a big asset to a small department like his. "It saves a lot of time. The old system was ink and sendin' in cards. If it's not right, they send 'em back and you don't have the time or manpower to go back and get people back in here to fingerprint 'em. We do it right the first time. The computer will not let us send any prints that are not of sufficient quality. It's a tremendous asset, cuts down on mistakes and people gettin' outta jail that don't need to be outta jail," says Ballard.

Ballard says the cross match live scan is another way high technology is fighting crime. It costs $30,000 and was bought with a 75/25% matching grant with the state.