The 82,000 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. face similar challenges of scale. More than 2.2 million inmates are in U.S. prisons and jails, and another 5 million are on parole or probation. Rhode Island’s Corrections Dept. was in the process of acquiring an iris system last summer when corrections officers at the maximum security Anthony P. Travisono Intake Service Center mistakenly released an inmate who impersonated another with the help of a rumpled photo and some coaching on security questions. Deputy warden Robert Vitale, who has since overseen the installation of a $50,000 system that uses IrisGuard technology to register irises of all inmates and new arrivals, is a fan. He says he can get a reply on an individual’s criminal history from the FBI in one to three minutes vs. the 20 minutes to 60 minutes it takes with fingerprints.
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