BANGOR - The technology of iris biometrics in Maine is already used in the context of child abduction, but now, it's being applied to identify criminal offenders.
The device looks like something you'd see in an optometrist's office, but it's importance is much greater.
"It enables us to positively identify a previously enrolled offender using iris biometric technology, and it does so in just a matter of seconds," Sheriff Glenn Ross, of Penobscot County, says.
This technology marks the first ever joint-effort between a State Department of Corrections and a County Jail System in the United States.
Not only does the scan provide a positive identification, and inform of an individual's prior bookings, but also aids in important information-sharing between facilities.
"Another scan at another facility will immediately bring up our record and save all the additional time of enrollment," Ross explains.
The process is simple: the individual sits before the device, and is scanned. Then the computer searches a database of over 500 correctional facilities nationwide that use BI 2 technology.
And tricking the system is nearly impossible.
"There are approximately 235 unique biometric descriptives in each one of our eyes. Totally unique between the left and right eyes," Sean Mullin, President and CEO of BI 2 Technologies, says.
These descriptives are formed after birth by the random tearing of tissue around the pupil, making it extremely difficult to copy.
"With all of our knowledge, this is the single most accurate, single most effective, and single most full-proof biometric unit worldwide today," Mullin explains.
Only four jails in Maine currently use this technology, but the hope is that iris biometric scanning becomes the best and fastest way of identifying an offender... even with the use of a cell phone.