Fingerprinting is the act of taking impressions of a person's fingerprints to be used for identification purposes. Commonly completed at the time of booking into the legal system at a jail house, the fingerprinting is completed and attached to a permanent file that accompanies the individual throughout the legal and penal system. Originally accomplished by rolling a finger in ink and transferring the ink to a fingerprint card, the modern method uses a computer to scan the images of the fingerprints. With this method, the fingerprinting is completed without the mess of the traditional inking system.
The fingerprints of no two humans are exactly alike. This makes fingerprinting a very accepted method of identifying a human, whether alive or dead. The identification process is completed in modern forensic labs by placing the most recent image of a known set of fingerprints into a computer. The computer is linked to a site that stores every set of fingerprints ever taken on file; if a match is detected, the computer will register the prints to a known person. In the United States, this fingerprinting site is comprised of every set of fingerprints taken by a law enforcement agency, medical facilities and military institutions on record.
The earliest fingerprinting was accomplished by rolling a person's fingers gently in a spot of ink and then rolling the fingers carefully across a file card. All four fingers, the thumb as well as a palm print, are typically registered during fingerprinting. Babies often have their fingerprints and foot prints taken at the time of their birth. This makes it possible to identify a young child in the case of an emergency or an accident. Unlike dental imprints, fingerprints commonly remain unchanged throughout a person's lifetime.
It is not simply law enforcement agencies that take a person's fingerprints. Many employers in highly sensitive or secure industries commonly take the fingerprints of prospective employees to complete background and criminal history checks. Military institutions also complete fingerprinting documentation on soldiers to aid in the identification of war casualties and recovered remains. Fingerprints are also used on passports, professional licenses as well as by some banking institutions to positively identify a person when cashing a check or making a transaction. Although attempted through the use of acids, sandpaper and other means, there is no extremely successful method of altering one's personal fingerprints to the extent that the fingerprints become unrecognizable when compared to a preexisting set of the person's fingerprints.