Fingerprinting Machine To Be Installed At Courthouse

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A new machine which court officials say could make processing accused individuals a more efficient process will now be a part of the Athens County Clerk's Office routine.

Athens County Common Pleas Judge George McCarthy announced in a press release Thursday that a fingerprint machine would arrive at the courthouse by the end of June.

The current protocol for fingerprinting people going through court cases is to send them to the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail. Fingerprints are gathered to send to the Ohio Bureau of Identification and Investigation, as well as to identify an offender after they are convicted of a crime, according to McCarthy.

Fingerprints are also used to "clear up inconsistencies," such as two people with the same name.

"We see some confusion occasionally when 'juniors' and 'seniors' with the same name come through," McCarthy said in the release. "Occasionally they will say 'that's not me' or 'that's my dad.'"

County Clerk of Courts Ann Trout said several people in her office will be trained to use the fingerprint machine, so that a clerk is always available to conduct the service.

"We want to be able to, when they come here for arraignments, to be able to automatically fingerprint them," Trout told The Messenger on Friday.

There is a long list of steps in closing a court file, Trout said, which includes fingerprinting and sending the information to the BCI. Being able to do the work in their office, rather than waiting for the information coming from the jail will benefit the office, she said.

The fingerprinting device and software were provided at no cost through BCI, according to the news release, but includes a yearly maintenance fee of about $1,000. A small fee might be charged by the clerk's office for the service, but McCarthy said it's worth the cost.

"…It will save people the trouble of going to Nelsonville to get it done," McCarthy stated. "Plus it will save the jail the time and energy needed to take those people we send to them."