Alabama First State to Require Fingerprints of Prison Visitors
Without citing any security-related need or problems, the state of Alabama has decided to require visitors at prisons to undergo fingerprinting. No other state in the country has such a requirement.
Officials with the Alabama Department of Corrections say the new policy is a product of expanded capability and the need for greater efficiency. Last month, the prison system got new computers that now allow for fingerprint scanning, something the old software couldn’t do.
Under the prior system, guards had only visitors’ photo ID cards to rely on for verifying someone’s identity. That meant taking more time to stop and review each driver’s license before allowing visitors into a correctional facility.
“That was a time-consuming task,” Brian Corbett, spokesman for the Department of Corrections, told Marty Roney of the Montgomery Advertiser. “Now, the verification process is much faster, so visitors are moved through the process much faster.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), however, objects to the new fingerprinting requirement, calling it “extreme.”
“Alabama prison officials can’t say with a straight face that it is a security issue,” David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project, told the newspaper. “Not when the remaining 49 state prison systems do not require the scanning of visitors’ fingerprints. It is an unnecessary barrier to visiting inmates.”
Corbett says visitors’ fingerprints will not be stored in a database, nor will they be shared with other local, state or national law enforcement agencies.
To Learn More:
Alabama Requires Fingerprint Scan For Prison Visitors (by Marty Roney, Montgomery Advertiser)
Arizona Begins Charging for Prison Visits (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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