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The importance of fingerprinting

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    Compared with other human characteristics which are visible, fingerprints do not change. During earlier civilization, methods like branding and maiming were used on criminals in regard to there type of crime. Thieves were chopped off there hands which they used to commit the act of thievery. The Romans also identified and prevented the mercenary soldiers from deserting by the use of a tattoo needle which was inserted to their bodies. During the mid 1800s, the officers in charge of enforcing law managed to identify offenders who where previously apprehended by sight. This was quite a task since personal appearance always changes as one grows. In around 1870, a French anthropologist managed to record and find measurements of certain body parts by the use of a system he designed. The measurements were reduced to a simple formula which was only applicable to an individual, the formula did remain the same during once adult time. The formula was named the Bertillon System after Alphonse Bertillon. Alphonse was the inventor of the Bertillon system (Knoppers, 2003, p.45).

     In the year 1903, a discovery on a man named William West was found. West was a prisoner at the penitentiary. During the time, a man named Will West who had almost similar name with the prisoner was sentenced at the Penitentiary at Leavenworth in the United States. It was discovered that they both had nearly the same Bertillon measurements. From this time, the Bertillon system never recovered. Investigation on the two men was conducted. Upon conclusion, it was found out that the two men actually resembled each other and there Bertillon measurements were almost identifying them as the same person. The investigation was later performed by the use of the fingerprints. The fingerprints clearly identified them as two distinct persons. Later, it was found out that indeed the two were identical brothers and each of them was using the records which corresponded with his immediate family relative (Erick, 2003, p.38).

     Fingerprints offer the most reliable means of personal identification. Compared to the other methods of establishing the identities of criminals who have refused to accept previous arrests, fingerprints provides an infallible means. There are many reasons as to why the science of fingerprint identification has been of more use compared to the other forensic scientific methods (

            The science of fingerprints identification has for many years been used by different governments worldwide. Billions of experiments both human and with the use of automated computer have been done to find comparisons between two fingerprints. There are no two fingerprints that were ever discovered to be the same. This has made fingerprints to form the base for identification in any criminal investigation at each police agency. Through science of fingerprint identification, the first forensic organization was developed. The International Association for Identification was developed (IAI) was developed in 1915. This organization was able to be established through the fundamentals of the science of fingerprints. In 1977, the science of fingerprints was used to develop the first professional certification program which was used by the forensic scientist (Roth, Olson, 2001, p.24).

    The program, IAIs Certified Latent Print Examiner, was able to distinguish persons meeting different criteria. This program carefully distinguished persons with certain criteria and rejecting those persons who had significant errors. It was an issue of certification to only those that met the specified criteria. In most investigations, fingerprints have widely been used as forensic evidence. The science of fingerprints has outmatched all the other types of examination. Fingerprints have always been found to be the same and perfectly march for the same persons, thereby simplifying the process of identification. The science of fingerprints is still expanding in many countries through out the world. It has continuously been the core method applicable during the process of identification. In America alone, tremendous improvements have been experienced with more people being added to the fingerprint repositories daily. This growth has tremendously out numbered the other forensic. Compared with DNA and other forensic methods used to identify serious offenders like murderers and rapist, the science of fingerprints can solve many cases of unknown suspects compared with these methods in most jurisdictions (

               In area of Forensic Science, DNA fingerprinting has impacted positively in many areas. Since the discovery of fingerprints, DNA   typing has been referred to as the most important discovery in forensic science. It has greatly improved the analysis of body fluids found at the crime scene and those found on the subjects clothing. For 70 years, human blood could only be classified into four groups (A, B, AB, and O). This discovery was by a man named Karl Landsteiner.  This discovery was for a long time the only method blood samples could be differentiated at the scene where crime and other events have occurred. However, this method could only differentiate two random blood samples at a rate of 30%, where this rate was quite low. In the mid 1970s, a faster technology with differentiating rate of 90% was developed. The technology improved the differentiating rate by analyzing serum proteins through the process of electrophoresis. Alec Jeffries from England in the 1980s discovered that DNA had many areas which could distinguish from the other until each of them becomes totally different from the other. Nowadays, blood and other samples could be easily analyzed by the forensic scientist. Thanks to short tandem repeats (STRs) and capillary electrophoresis used during DNA typing. For many years, DNA typing was used for freeing convicted people who were innocent against the crimes they committed. This began the very first time DNA was applied in a criminal case. The suspect was left out as the donor of the stain (George, 1990, p.67).


    Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. Retrieved on 13th December 2008 from

    Eric Monkkonen (2003) Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification. The Historian, Vol.65 , pp.38

    Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved on 13th December 2008 from

    George Annas (1990) DNA Fingerprinting in the Twilight Zone. The Hastings Center Report, Vol.20, pp.67

    Knoppers Bartha (2003) Populations and Generations: Legal and Socio-Ethical Perspectives. London: Martinus Nijhoff, pp.45

    Roth Mitchel & Olson James (2001) Historical Dictionary of Law Enforcement. New York: Greenwood Press, pp.24

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