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Iris recognition is now being used to identify Leon County inmates

Business Wire/AP
Business Wire

The Leon County Sheriff’s Office says it has successfully implemented a cost-effective way to identify inmates. It involves taking a picture of their eyes.

Since May, the Leon County Detention Facility has booked more than 5,800 inmates using iris biometrics. Iris recognition has been found to be 12 times more accurate than fingerprints. Within seconds, a digital photograph captures 268 unique characteristics in each eye. The technology comes in handy during these pandemic times, since a camera allows for limited contact.

“This cutting-edge iris biometric technology is another tool in the arsenal of capabilities we have to protect our citizens, especially from those who may try to alter their identities,” Sheriff Walt McNeil said in a news release.

The sheriff’s office says iris biometrics will not replace fingerprinting or mugshots, but it is another way to identify an inmate quickly and share that information via a North American database that contains more than 2 million images. Nearly 200 law enforcement offices and facilities have implemented the technology.

Gina Jordan is the host of Morning Edition for WFSU News. Gina is a Tallahassee native and graduate of Florida State University. She spent 15 years working in news/talk and country radio in Orlando before becoming a reporter and All Things Considered host for WFSU in 2008. Follow Gina: @hearyourthought on Twitter. Click below for Gina's full bio.