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What is Fingerprinting?

When a crime is committed, many of us have seen and heard that forensic experts have taken the fingerprints from the place where the crime is committed. Forensic science used in criminal justice has recently been revolutionized with new DNA technology, but fingerprinting is still the most valid and potent form of identification used in law enforcement today. The usage of fingerprinting dates back to the ancient Babylon era; when fingerprints and ridge patterns were used on clay tablets for business transactions and governmental procedures. By the 14th century, the fact that no two prints were alike was becoming more noticeable, thus the history of the fingerprint. Elaborating the ridges, spirals, and loops that occur in fingerprints, Marcello Malpighi, a professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna, made no declaration to the value of personal identification, but began to point out the differences in fingerprint patterns in 1686. Throughout the beginning of the 1900s, fingerprinting began its journey into existence of the US legal system and military branches. By 1971, the FBI had a rough 200 million prints that were manually maintained by the government. Nowadays perhaps each and every country is maintaining the database of fingerprints. Though fingerprints have been used for thousands of years, the present systems of classification have only been utilized in the past 100 years.

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The two main categories of classification that are used internationally are the Henry Classification and the FCIC Classification systems. The FCIC Classification is much easier to adopt, therefore more widely used, especially in criminal cases. The Henry Classification is mainly used for the manual filing of fingerprint cards. An FCIC code comprises a twenty-character code. Each finger has two characters to represent its classification. Redial loops, plain arches, and whorls are the three basic fingerprint patterns in FCIC Classification. There are four different types of whorls, and accidental whorls, two different kind of loops: radial and ulnar, and two types of arches: tented and plain.

Being the most common of the five, the loop is classified by only having one delta. A delta is a geometrical figure and resembles with the three sides of a triangle, and must have a curving line that passes through it. Arches are the only patterns that do not include deltas because arches only consist of one pattern, while a loop, for example, consists of a pattern that it is adjacent to a delta of some sort. Ulnar and radial loops are the simplest to understand. If the loop is arching toward the ulnar bone, it’s classified as an Ulnar loop. If the loop is arching towards the radial bone, it’s classified as the radial loop. Ulnar loops are the most commonly found patterns in the world. Arches, which do not include deltas, are rather easy to classify as well. A tented arch has a significant upward thrust of the triangular shape, while the plain arch is not as defined. Whorls must have two or more deltas. Plain whorls are circular patterns that have ridges (raised skin), not furrows (lowered skin), making up most of the pattern in a circular motion. On the other hand, the central pocket whorl is notably different with the bifurcation that differentiates the two types of patterns. A bifurcation is “the point at which one friction ridge divides into two friction ridges.” Basically, the circular shape divides at some pint, causing it to look like somewhat of a tadpole with a round body and tail. Looking like a yin-yang sign, the double loop whorls explain themselves. They consist of two circular patterns instead of one like all the other three whorl patterns. Lastly, the accidental whorl has three deltas or more that classifies it to be an “accident”.

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When taking a print from a crime scene, the easiest to preserve is the latent print. It’s caused by oily discharges of the hands and is usually visible to the human eye. Nowadays cyanoa crylate has begun to replace the fingerprint powder. When cyanoa crylate is heated, the fumes evaporate on to porous surface, permanently preserving latent prints. Those that are not visible, are held under ultra-violent lights, then transferred to contrasting surfaces, such as black powder or white paper, or vice versa.

With the twelve-point system in mind, imperatively how accurately it works as an identification system, no other system has proved to be as precise with all of the statistics that are available. On in 64 billion fingerprints have been concluded to have the same twelve-point identities. It takes this kind of advanced structure known as fingerprinting to be so exact, whereas DNA can easily be swayed in strand configuration. The DNA revolution has definitely opened the door for forensic science, but fingerprinting has been the key since the beginning.

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