New fingerprint technology in the Richmond County jail is helping keep bad guys behind bars, authorities say.
In July, a faster fingerprint system called RapidID was installed and heavy-duty wristbands began being used. Both have been helpful in preventing the wrong person from being released and catching criminals claiming to be someone else.
In January, Devontae Romeo Roberts was released by mistake when he switched wristbands with inmate Brett Corey Counts. Roberts was found two days later and recommitted with additional charges.
“The old wristbands were easier to remove,” Capt. William Reeves said Roberts and Counts also looked similar and memorized one another’s information, he said.
The incident led the jail to implement new precautions, including the thicker wristbands, Reeves said. The clear band now holds the inmate’s picture, date of birth, name, race and sex.
Another challenge the jail faced was inmates with no ID or who claimed to be other people to avoid warrants.
In April, a Homeland Security grant from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency provided the sheriff’s office with $21,350 for machines that connected Richmond County to the state’s Mobile Biometric Fingerprint Identification system.
Tested around metro Atlanta in 2009, RapidID was installed at the booking entrance of the Richmond County jail and at the release window. Now, when inmates are fingerprinted by the new machines upon arrival, the jailer knows the person’s ID in about 10 seconds, along with any outstanding warrants, whether the person is on probation or parole, and, in some cases, a prior mugshot.
“It’s been wonderful,” Reeves said. “People realize when they see the machines they better not lie about who they are, because we are going to figure it out real quickly.”
Even after inmates are fingerprinted, they are still asked questions to confirm their identity, Reeves said. Those questions include their Social Security number, where they were arrested and their address.
The next step is getting the machines hooked up to the Georgia Crime Information Center, which will log their booking photo into the system for more reliability.
“This is another extra step,” Reeves said. “It makes us feel a lot more secure.”