When an inmate was recently booked into the Jefferson County Jail, he lied about who he was and when he was born.
At one time, it could have been hours or days before lawmen discovered his true identity, but biometric technology now being used by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office gave them his correct identity in a matter of seconds based on a previous arrest in Atlanta.
The sheriff’s office nine months ago became the first law enforcement agency in Alabama to implement the Inmate Recognition & Identification System (IRIS), with a primary focus on sex offenders. Sheriff Mike Hale on Thursday said the break-through technology has become an invaluable tool in the fight against crime, and criminals.
“Criminals, including illegal aliens and convicted sex offenders, can make Jefferson County and communities across America a dangerous place to live, work and play,” the sheriff said. “Criminals often try to change their identities to avoid accurate identification and prosecution for crimes they have committed. This cutting-edge biometric technology further enhances our ability to keep your neighborhoods and communities safe.”
Here’s how it works: When someone is booked into jail, their iris is scanned, and a binary code of the image is created and then stored in a massive database, much like fingerprints or DNA.
“We can quickly take a digital photo of the inmate or convicted or convicted sex offender’s eye – specifically the irises, which is the colored part of the eye around the pupil,” Hale said. “The iris, like a fingerprint, has unique characteristics. No two are alike. A match means we’re able to immediately identify the repeat offender or convicted sex offender in seconds.”