So, I had to go get fingerprints done for background check et cetera. (No, I haven’t been having THAT much fun this semester. But insurance and all that sort of thing . . . ) Anywho, the last time I did this was 19coughcough, when it was for DoD clearance checks. That was ink on cards. I’ve seen the machines, but never tangled with them.
Now, unless you have very unusual circumstances, the process is electronic. You don’t go to your local police or sheriff any longer. You go to someone who has a contract to do the finger-print taking, provide proper ID, and they use computers and a box with a glass lid. The press-roll-confirm step is still the same, and the scanner is a bit of a challenge for the short of finger. I discovered that I had to move the other digits as the tech rolled the print onto the scanner. That almost required more coordination than I was capable of after working all day.
The entire process took fifteen minutes, from walk-in-the-door to walk-out-the-door. It cost around ten dollars. The place allots ten minutes per customer, and they are booked solid all day, every day. Any license that requires ID and background checking goes through them for fingerprinting. The scans are then sent straight to whichever agency needs them (nurse certification, police, license-to-carry, employer, what have you.)
So, who does this not work for? People without fingerprints, or with fingers so mauled that the computer throws a fit. The program has a relatively wide set of parameters, but some people fall outside those. Sometimes it is because of working with chemicals (or acidic fruit) for extended periods. Other people wear the prints off handling rough surfaces – masons and brick-layers are well known for having missing fingerprints. If you fall into those categories, the computer scanner won’t work. Instead, you go to the sheriff and they try to take the prints. If they get the same non-standard results, the sheriff’s office will certify that indeed, 1. you are you and 2. you have unusual prints that don’t fit the computer parameters, and off you go.
Some things change, others don’t. It was an interesting process.