October 23, 2015 -
The Anoka County jail has been using BI2 Technologies’ Inmate Identification and Recognition System (IRIS) since August, making it the first in Minnesota to implement iris recognition identification technology for inmates, according to a report by the Star Tribune.
Using IRIS, jail personnel are able to capture high-resolution iris images of the 11,000 inmates booked into the facility each year, and store the images for future use.
Inmates’ irises are also captured to verify their identities when moved to and from court and again when they are released.
“It’s a quicker and extremely accurate version of a fingerprint check,” said Anoka County jail Cmdr. Dave Pacholl.
The iris recognition system takes just a few seconds to compare and match iris images, while the fingerprint ID system can take five to 15 minutes, Pacholl said.
Pacholl said there has been no legal challenge to the process since it implemented the IRIS system on August 25, adding that the department alerted the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension at the time and no one seemed concerned.
Meanwhile, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota said the organization does not have a solid position on eye-scanning technology.
The more relaxed privacy concerns regarding iris recognition may be due to the fact that iris data is only used for identification, unlike fingerprint data, which is used for identification and as evidence.
The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office is currently one of approximately 100 U.S. police departments, sheriffs and prison systems using iris recognition technology, which also includes the Maine Department of Corrections and the jail systems in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta.