Calif. sheriff to scan irises of sex offenders

By Demian Bulwa
The San Francisco Chronicle
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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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