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Calif. sheriff to scan irises of sex offenders


By Demian Bulwa
The San Francisco Chronicle
Related: L.E. agencies fine-tune face ID

ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. The Alameda County Sheriff's Office is preparing to become the first public agency in the Bay Area to force some convicts to submit to iris scanning, a strategy that may jump-start debate about how police should use a powerful and emerging technology.

Each human iris has a unique texture, and its contours can be mapped in a searchable database. Proponents of the technology say it won't replace fingerprinting, but that it offers a speedier and more accurate way to identify people whether they are suspects at the scene of a crime or inmates being freed.

Authorities plan to begin scanning the irises of the county's 2,500 sex offenders within a few weeks - when they register during a move or when they check in annually as required by law. There are no plans yet to expand the scanning to others.

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