Fingerprints are essential for the identification of individuals. Everybody has a unique fingerprint that provides accurate information to identify a person positively. The likelihood that someone shares the same fingerprint is 1 in 64 million! A fingerprint consists of patterns on the innermost layer of the epidermis on the tips of your fingers and thumbs that uniquely identify who you are.
Fingerprinting has been utilized in the United States since before the 20th century. The FBI oversees one of the most extensive fingerprint databases in the world. The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or IAFIS, holds over 51 million fingerprints and criminal records and over 1.5 million civil fingerprints. Law Enforcement readily uses fingerprints for most cases.
So, why do we fingerprint?
First, it sets us apart from everyone else. These unique skin patterns are with us from birth until death and leave marks behind on everything we touch! Fingerprints are used for various
- Passports and Foreign Travel-If you wish to travel to another country either as a tourist or worker, fingerprints are required for a criminal background check.
- Pre-Employment-Many organizations require individuals to be fingerprinted for background checks before any offer of employment. The process readily includes people who wish to work in healthcare, education, and or government agencies, to name a few. Licensing boards may also utilize this procedure depending on their respective state laws.
- Identification of offenders and criminals- Law Enforcement Officers use fingerprints to identify by comparing prints found at the crime scene with those already in police files or databases. Fingerprints are used in the conviction of criminal cases.
- United States Green Card and Citizenship- Before becoming a citizen of the United States, applicants are required to undergo a biometrics screening, which includes but is not limited to fingerprinting.
- Identification of missing and or abducted children– Many parents across the country have their children fingerprinted to get a record of identity to be used if their child is ever kidnapped or becomes lost. The National Child Identification Website regularly distributes free child fingerprinting kits throughout various communities to reduce the number of missing and abducted children as a way of record-keeping to help local police to help find their missing children.
It is safe to say that fingerprinting plays a vital role in our lives. It can be the link between gaining justice in an unresolved crime to finding a lost or kidnapped child.