Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), requires that jurisdictions include in their registries a set of fingerprints and palm prints from each sex offender (see 34 U.S.C. § 20914(b)(5)). The National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification specify that jurisdictions must maintain fingerprints and palm prints in digital format to facilitate immediate access and transmittal of information to various entities.
However, the requirement to maintain fingerprints and palm prints in digital format does not mean that jurisdictions must use digital fingerprint-scanning devices to obtain registered sex offenders’ prints. To meet the digital format requirement, jurisdictions may either:
- use digital fingerprint-scanning devices to obtain registered sex offenders’ fingerprints and palm prints, or
- take rolled, inked fingerprints and palm prints on physical cards, then scan the cards and transfer the prints.
The submission of fingerprints and palm prints to the Next Generation Identification (NGI), which is run by the Criminal Justice Information Services of the FBI, is required by SORNA. Note that digital print-scanning devices alert the user as to whether the prints are of sufficient quality for the NGI system to accept; rolled, inked prints on physical cards that are subsequently scanned do not. For information on capturing fingerprints and palm prints, see the FBI’s Biometric page (https://le.fbi.gov/science-and-lab-resources/biometrics-and-fingerprints/biometrics).
The SMART Office encourages jurisdictions to consider issues of quality when purchasing digital print-scanning equipment for uploading and transferring fingerprints and palm prints. For more information on quality biometric standards, see the FBI's Programs Research and Standards Unit's FBIBiospecs page (https://fbibiospecs.fbi.gov/).
Additionally, tribes participating in the Tribal Access Program (TAP) that have received a TAP workstation have the capability to collect digital fingerprints and palm prints and submit them directly to NGI. Other tribal jurisdictions using digital fingerprint-scanning devices should, if possible, work with the state registry agency to select a device that interfaces with the state’s system, thus enabling electronic submission of digital prints to NGI through the state system.
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