Reasons to take finger prints:
For over 100 years, police agencies have had a powerful tool in combating crime. The use of fingerprinting allows crime fighters an extremely accurate means of identification. Other means of identification (such as hair color or style, weight or eye color) may change, but fingerprints do not.
In earlier civilizations, branding, tattooing, or even maiming was used to mark and identify criminals. Although man had been aware of the fact that each person possessed a unique set of ridges on the fingers and hands, the use of these prints for criminal identification was not accepted until the early 1900s.
The FBI identification division was born in 1924, with the receipt of 810,188 fingerprints files, mostly from Leavenworth Penitentiary. This collection became increasingly important due to the emergence of criminals who regularly crossed state lines.
Currently, the FBI possesses over 250 million sets of fingerprint records. This enormous collection is composed of both criminal and civil prints. The civil file includes the prints of both government employees and applicants for federal jobs.
All standard fingerprint cards are eight-inch square pieces of paper, with a thickness much like that of thin cardboard. At the present time, the FBI receives over 34,000 fingerprint cards each work day. The photograph to the right is an example of a standard FBI fingerprint card.