Friday, August 9, 2019

The Will West/William West Case: Did two nearly identical inmates changed the way people are identified?

Photo comparing mug shots and fingerprint of Will West and William West

In 1903 when Will West, convicted of a crime, was delivered to Leavenworth Penitentiary to serve his sentence, the records clerk M.W. McClaughry informed him he was already in Leavenworth, serving time for murder. It turned out that a person of practically identical name, appearance and Bertillon measurements was already in the prison system. 

The Bertillon system for identification, developed by French anthropologist Alphonse Bertillon in the 1880s, involved taking precise physical measurements of a person’s head and body, which were included on a card along with photos and a description of identifying personal features.

A chronology of the West’s case shows that the records clerk learned of the fingerprint identification system from Sgt. John K. Ferrier of Scotland Yard in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair. In September of that year, Major R.W. McClaughry, warden at the penitentiary, requested permission to install the fingerprint system at Leavenworth. In November that permission was granted. Will and William West's unique fingerprints were finally captured and compared in 1905.

The Will/William West case has been credited with ushering in the use of fingerprints for identifying inmates by law enforcement. In truth, the case was not well known until after the fingerprint identification was already established in the U.S. (It was adopted by the U.S. Military in 1905, and quickly thereafter adopted by police agencies.) 

The case was not reported in print until 1918 in an article Personal Identification by Harris Wilder and Bert Wentworth. However, the West case is an interesting story, and does help to illustrate the reason why fingerprinting replaced the Bertillon system. 

Today, fingerprinting remains critical for identification in the criminal justice system, useful for identifying records and maintaining criminal history.

Will and William West conundrum: How two unrelated but identical inmates showed need for fingerprinting

by Martin Chalakoski, Sept. 29, 2017, for

A Fingerprint Fable: The Will and William West Case

by Robert D. Olsen, Sr., Kansas Bureau of Investigation

(This story appeared in the November 1987, Vol. 37, No. 11 issue of Identification News, which was the next to the last issue prior to changing publication format and becoming the Journal of Forensic Identification)

History of Fingerprints

2018, Crime Scene Forensics, LLC, Concord, NC;

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Accurate Biometrics awarded contract for Live Scan Fingerprinting Services by Fermilab

May 28, 2019
Accurate Biometrics
Itasca, IL

Accurate Biometrics awarded contract for Live Scan Fingerprinting Services by Fermilab in Batavia, IL

Itasca-based Accurate Biometrics, a nationwide fingerprint service provider, has been awarded an up to 5-year contract by Femilab in Batavia, IL

On May 8, 2019 Accurate Biometrics, Inc was awarded the “Live Scan Fingerprinting Services” contract for Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, located in Batavia, IL. The purpose of the contact is to provide live scan fingerprinting services for specific Fermi Research Alliance LLC employees, to conduct FBI fingerprint-based criminal history record information background checks.

The contract is for one year with 4 optional renewal years.

Fermilab is the United States’ premier particle physics laboratory. “We work on the world's most advanced particle accelerators and dig down to the smallest building blocks of matter. We also probe the farthest reaches of the universe, seeking out the nature of dark matter and dark energy.” To learn more about Fermilab, visit

About Accurate Biometrics
Accurate Biometrics is a Certified Woman-Owned Small Business providing live scan fingerprinting service and solutions. We are a trusted leader in the biometric services industry, and the preferred choice of Federal, State, Municipal, Corporate and other organizational entities. Accurate Biometrics is one of the first companies nationally to submit fingerprints to a State AFIS System for non-criminal justice history record checks. We have proudly provided innovative fingerprint solutions to our clients for nearly 20 years.

This news release has been issued by Accurate Biometrics, a certified fingerprint vendor and independent resource for fingerprint collection and processing. We are subject matter experts for live scan, card scan, electronic fingerprint transmission, FBI fingerprint-background checks and processing productivity, backed by 20 years of experience.

For more information, contact:

Jimmy Critchfield
Director, Government Sales and Partnerships
Accurate Biometrics

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Chemical and DNA analyses yield a wealth of information from fingerprints

Photo showing chemical migration from a fingerprint's peaks to its valleys.
Palmitic acid (green) migrates from a fingerprint's peaks to its valleys. Credit: Muramoto/NIST

Advances in chemical and DNA analyses are able to glean much more information from fingerprints in the lab. Scientists have devised sensitive tests to analyze biomolecules such as amino acids and fatty acids, as well as chemicals a person may have touched, including drugs and explosives. New information revealed by chemical and DNA testing may be eventually admissible in court. 

Latent fingerprints have been used by forensic scientists to link a criminal to crime scene for over a century. New types of research can add more information to help identity crime scene fingerprints, especially if the prints are smudged or of poor quality.

Like unique fingerprint patterns, DNA can help conclusively identity individuals. In older cases, DNA extracted from archived fingerprints may be the only DNA evidence available. Black fingerprint dust and the chemical fuming did not render the DNA unusable. Instead fingerprints were protected and preserved, sandwiched between the tape and card. In the last decade scientists have developed a way to extract and concentrate minute amounts of DNA for testing. They worked with prints up to 28 years old.

Latent fingerprints contain sweat, skin cells and thousands of chemicals. Scientists are testing ways to determine biological data such as sex and age, and also what substances a person might have touched. For example, analysis has shown that amino acids are present in fingerprints at roughly twice the level in females as in males. Further testing is ongoing to be able to distinguish samples between different people regardless of sex. 

As a fingerprint ages, the chemicals deposited with the print travel from the ridges to the valleys. This observation led scientists to wonder if the phenomenon could be used to date a fingerprint. Initial research focused on the migration of fatty acids over a few days. Researchers have since been able to predict the age of the fingerprint to several months. In forensic analysis, the age of a fingerprint could be used to fix the time of a crime or rule out prints too old be relevant to a crime scene.

Fingerprints are more than just patterns; they’re chemical identities

By Kerri Jansen, March 10, 2019 | Chemical & Engineering News (c&en), Vol. 97, Issue 10

Determining The Age Of Fingerprints

By Andrea Widener, Chemical & Engineering News (c&en), Vol., 93 Issue 34. Issue Date: August 31, 2015

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Biometrics in healthcare: improving accuracy, safety and privacy

Digital records in healthcare concept image

The shift from paper-based records to electronic health records (EHR) has allowed for more accurate and up-to-date information, highly coordinated and efficient care, secure sharing of patient data and fewer medical errors. 

These benefits rely on accurate verification of patient identity. To meet this challenge, some healthcare institutions are moving away from biographic identifiers (such as name, date-of-birth, SSN) to biometric identifiers (including fingerprint, face, iris and voice). 

Medical information can be stolen, lost, forged, mistyped and duplicated. A biometric identifier, unique to one person, helps make medical record keeping cleaner, with fewer duplicates, and less risk of treating the wrong patient.

If a patient is registered, biometric identification is especially useful if a patient cannot assert their own identity. Biometric ID verification also helps prevent attempts at identity misrepresentation to receive healthcare without payment. 

For patients at home, accessing healthcare records online may be easier with biometric ID. Passwords can be hard to remember, especially when infrequently used. Biometric ID can also be part of a multi-factor verification system. For example, if a patient has trouble logging in online, a message can be sent to a smartphone that prompts a biometric verification. 

Biometric verification can also be used for patients picking up prescriptions at a pharmacy. In the future, biometric verification can provide a secure and convenient login to telemedicine portals.

In a Pew Charitable Trust Survey, most patients responded in favor of biometrics for identity verification citing: decreased medical errors, a more complete picture of one's health for clinicians, and better security than using demographic data as an identifier. Clinician respondents also favored biometrics; many already use it for access control for their staff.

The main reservation to the widespread adoptance of biometric ID in healthcare relates to standardization, and acceptance by governing bodies to encourage their use.

Biometrics in healthcare: Improved safety and privacy for patients

Published 2019 by Aware, Inc.,

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A “fingerprint” to detect counterfeit goods with your smart phone

Photo of a UPC code enhanced to verify product authenticity.

Credit: Thomas Just Sørensen

Consumers of a wide array of goods — from luxury watches, designer handbags and athletic shoes to medications, bottles of wine and tins of biscuits — have not been able to easily check the authenticity of an item they purchased. They have to trust every step of the manufacturing and supply chain.

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have developed a system to use a smart phone and phone app to check whether a product is genuine or fake. The system involves printing a QR-code on a label, or tag, and then spraying the code with a transparent ink that contains readable micro particles. After nearly 10,000 tests with no false positives, the researchers are confident they have created “the world’s safest” anti-counterfeiting system.

The tags, or chemical "fingerprints", are inexpensive to produce, and as unique as fingerprints. The tags can be as small as the size of a comma. Before leaving the factory, a product is tagged, and the tag’s fingerprint is then registered in a database. The UPC code and tag can then be checked back to the database by a smart phone and app.

The University of Copenhagen has patented the system. Currently only the final software component is incomplete. The researchers expect to have that completed this year. Their research has been published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

New weapon to combat counterfeit goods: use your smartphone to check for fake merchandise

Published February 21, 2019, on ScienceDaily; source, the University of Copenhagen.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Accurate Biometrics provides the service, speed and accuracy you need in FBI background checks

Photo of international university students

Personal FBI background checks can be requested by individuals through a Departmental Order 556-73. Accurate Biometrics is a leader in providing personal fingerprint-based background checks. In 2011, we were the first FBI Channeler approved to submit Departmental Orders to the FBI, allowing individuals to obtain an Identity History Summary Report, also simply known as an FBI “self-check”.

This FBI self-check is a way to review one’s record, to make sure the information is accurate and up-to-date. An individual can then take steps to challenge and update their record information. An FBI record check can also be used to prove that one does not have a criminal history record.

FBI fingerprint-based background checks are increasingly used by U.S. Citizens and permanent residents as they desire to live, work, teach or study abroad. Many countries such as China, South Korea, Australia, South Africa and Spain are now requiring FBI background checks to fulfill visa requirements. We have processed fingerprint cards from over 90 countries.

FBI background checks are also used for legal requirements, international child adoption for example, and other court related matters.

Accurate Biometrics offers a variety of service options to fit your needs. We can capture your prints with electronic live scan technology. We are able to process FBI fingerprint cards received by mail or expedited delivery. Card scans are usually processed the same day received. Online electronic results are usually available in minutes. Mailed results are sent out within one business day. Our services are much faster and more cost efficient than direct FBI submission.

Accurate Biometrics’ FBI background check service includes:

  • Smart, proprietary software that ensures fingerprint quality standards before prints are submitted. Our fingerprint quality far exceeds the FBI standard and industry average.
  • Electronic submissions are processed instantly. Mailed fingerprint cards are processed within 24 hours of receipt.
  • Results are available through our online portal within 24 hours, but often within minutes after direct FBI submission.
  • Optional mail or expedited delivery options are available for a print copy of results on secure, watermarked paper.
  • A tracking number is provided for mail or expedited delivery of print results.
  • A customer service center is available to offer assistance via phone, chat, or e-mail.

Accurate Biometrics is expert at helping people navigate the background check process. We are a trusted live scan fingerprint provider with nearly 20 years of experience. Let us help you navigate the background check process. Call our Customer Support team at 866-361-9944 if you have any questions, or email us at

To learn more or get started on your personal background check, visit:

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