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Private biometric registries have been entering US law enforcement agencies. The Inmate Recognition Identification System, or IRIS, is a registry that allows law enforcement to enter and identify suspects, offenders, and inmates using biometric recognition technology in seconds

Private biometric intelligence company BI2 Technologies entered into an agreement with a US law enforcement organization, the Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalition, promising the company would donate and integrate biometric identification devices and systems into sheriff departments along the US and Mexico border.

Under the agreement, IRIS will be integrated into the current records management system of all SBSC jails. The device is set up in the mugshot area in order to restructure IRIS scanning into the booking process, according to muckrock.com.

The process begins when an individual’s eyes are captured by the iris camera, creating a high-resolution photograph of their iris. Iris recognition is vastly more accurate than fingerprints, with the ability to collect around 240 characteristics that make an individual’s eye unique – compared to the roughly 40 or 60 characteristics collected through prints.

Within seconds, the software can comb through local and national databases to confirm and return the identity of an individual. IRIS is linked to BI2’s online, real-time local and national iris biometric database accessible by all law enforcement. The registry contains photographs of the individual’s irises, their mugshot, a complete physical description, as well as the details and history of arrests, charges and offenses. If they already exist within the IRIS system, the average match time is 18.6 seconds.

Muckrock.com says a criminal justice biometric database housed by a private, outside vendors runs the very high risk of that information being misused and compromised.