By Mohammed Murad

Biometric iris recognition systems are an ideal tool for quickly and accurately enrolling and identifying people as they enter and are released from prison. That’s according to Captain Michael Cuti, prison records, York County Prison in York, Pa.

Cuti recently joined other law enforcement officials for a live webinar, Iris Recognition in Law Enforcement, sponsored by Iris ID and the National Sheriff’s Association.

York Country Prison, a 2,000-bed facility located in southeastern Pennsylvania, began using iris recognition technology from Iris ID 20 years ago. The early system captured a single iris, while today’s platform cameras scan both irises and capture a face simultaneously.

“Since 2000, we’ve completed more than 188,000 iris scans of incoming detainees,” Cuti said. “It’s one of the easiest technologies our staff uses and helps us to book and move people in a more timely, orderly fashion.”

He said the Iris ID system is used in three distinct areas of the prison. The primary admissions area handles those arrested by York County law enforcement officers. Prison staff can immediately identify a person previously booked into the facility. That’s important, said Cuti, as it’s not unusual for suspects to provide arresting officers with a false name.

A second prison area houses work-release detainees. Correctional officers use the Iris ID system to identify people as they leave and return to the prison from their jobs each day.

In the late 1990s, York County Prison contracted with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house detainees suspected of being in the country illegally. Cuti said the iris-based system is very useful in this third area of the prison.

“ICE detainees often speak only Spanish or another foreign language and very few of our staff members are bilingual,” he said. “It’s also not unusual for these detainees to have similar names. An iris scan immediately lets us know who is being released for court dates and other activities.”

Cuti said the prison staff no longer fingerprints all suspects at the time of admission.

Get more information on how law enforcement is using iris recognition by listening to the entire webinar. In addition to Cuti, the presentation has input from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

(Mohammed Murad is vice president, global sales and business development, Iris ID)