Finger and Palm Printing in the 21st Century

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Finger and Palm Printing in the 21st Century
Heather Waldron
University of Phoenix

Finger and Palm Printing in the 21st Century
Fingerprinting can be dated as far back as the 14th century. They have always been known as an infallible way to identify a person. Though technology has changed over the years, the basic fundamentals of fingerprinting remain the same. Fingerprinting and Identification has proven useful in law enforcement because it has helped in court to convict a guilty person. People don’t realize that you leave a fingerprint on everything you touch. A lot of criminals try to alter their print by burning the tips of their fingers or by scarring them. What they don’t realize is that you can still be identified. Though ridge detail is good on palm prints, it isn’t as good as a fingerprint. The author will discuss in this paper the history of fingerprinting, how to classify and identify a fingerprint and how it can be improved in the future. It will also discuss some of the scientists responsible for fingerprinting.

Fingerprint Identification has been used worldwide for over 100 years by law enforcement agencies. It has been prove to be one of the most accurate ways to identify a person. Over the years they have yet to find that any two fingerprints are the same. They may have some of the same characteristics, but it is usually a certain arch or loop or even ridge detail, which tell them apart. According to this article, fingerprinting out performs DNA and such offenders, as rapists, murderers and serious offenders are found guilty. The article also states “fingerprints solve ten times more unknown suspect cases that DNA in most jurisdictions.”(History of Fingerprints Pg. 1) Even though other physical characteristics change on a person, fingerprints never do. You have fingerprints when you are in the womb and they are the same until the day you die.

In early civilizations, there were methods to identifying a person and methods to identifying a criminal. Branding and maiming a criminal were common practice so that the town can see what the criminal did. One saying, which is very well known by most, is an eye for an eye. Well the Romans took it right to that limit. One example of this is when a thief was caught stealing they would cut off his hand, they also employed a tattoo needle to identify mercenary soldiers.

In 1870, a French Anthropologist by the name of Alphonse Bertillon derived a system, which would measure dimensions of certain bony parts of the body. Theoretically it was thought that these dimensions would not change on person during their entire adult life. The Bertillon system was readily accepted for over thirty years until the 1903 when a man by the name of Will West was wrongfully convicted. It was discovered that a man with the same measurements was already incarcerated in the prison and coincidently had the same name. After further investigation they found that not only do the two men share the same name and measurements, but also they looked exactly the same. A fingerprint comparison proved that they were two different people, but were related and never knew.

In prehistoric times scientists have found writings and pictures on the walls, which had hand and ridge patterns. “In ancient Babylon, fingerprints were used on clay tablets for business transactions. In ancient China, thumb prints were found on clay seals.”(History of Fingerprinting Pg. 2) In the 14th century, Persia used fingerprint impressions for various government papers and one government official noticed that no two fingerprints were the same.

In the 1600’s some of the scientists around were Malpighi who was a professor of anatomy and studied the ridges, spirals and loops of the fingerprint. Purkinje was also a professor of anatomy and published a thesis, which discussed the 9 fingerprint patterns. Hershel in 1858 was chief...
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