Valley courts get upgrades in devices for fingerprints (2024)

YOUNGSTOWN — The Ohio Attorney General’s Office recently listed courts in 42 counties in Ohio that will receive at least one new LiveScan fingerprinting device — including Youngstown, Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, Trumbull County Juvenile Court and Warren Municipal Court — that will close a gap in the completeness of fingerprints on file.

“Fingerprints are a critical piece of the puzzle when verifying someone’s identity and checking their criminal backgrounds,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost stated in a news release.

Providing the fingerprinting machines in courts that need them through federal grant funding provided to Yost’s office will “further modernize the record-keeping system by building in a more fail-safe process to collect fingerprints. In doing this, law enforcement, employers and even everyday Ohioans can have greater confidence in the system,” he stated.

David Magura, Youngstown Municipal Court administrator, said Youngstown Municipal Court never had fingerprinting devices, so adding them to the court

will plug a gap that has existed for a while now.

Most individuals charged with a crime are fingerprinted at the county jail. But there are times when court personnel tell a defendant to go over to the jail to get fingerprinted and the person may not have done it.

Magura said the courts and lots of other parts of the criminal justice system rely on an Ohio law enforcement database to match a defendant with his or her fingerprint to better identify them, so whatever the court can do to eliminate gaps in that system is warranted.

He gave the example of a person who fell through the cracks of the fingerprinting part of OHLEG who commits a terrible crime such as murder. If that person left fingerprints behind at a crime scene but was never fingerprinted, it could be the difference between catching the suspect and not catching them.

Magura said he believes that a more complete fingerprinting database might also make it easier to determine when the wrong person is arrested on a warrant, for instance, when a suspect gives out a false Social Security number to authorities.

“Fingerprints are a critical piece of the puzzle when verifying someone’s identity and checking their criminal backgrounds,” Yost said. “These grant funds are being invested in the courts to further modernize the record-keeping system by building in a more fail-safe process to collect fingerprints. In doing this, law enforcement, employers and even everyday Ohioans can have greater confidence in the system.”

Ohio law requires the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation to maintain the state’s Computerized Criminal History, a database of fingerprints and criminal records based on information supplied by 200-plus courts statewide as their cases conclude.

These records are relied upon for criminal investigations; prosecutorial charges; sentencing decisions; correctional supervision and release; and background checks for those applying for licenses or firearms purchases, and those who work with children, older Ohioans or people with disabilities, the release states.

The new machines will shore up gaps in defendant fingerprinting and automate courts’ submission of those fingerprints to the CCH.

The devices, which cost $898,450, were purchased through a National Criminal History Improvement Program.

“Courts are mandated to provide accurate reporting of criminal case information, supported by essential fingerprinting in background checks,” Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy stated. “LiveScan devices will aid courts in fulfilling that statutory requirement by improving the efficiency of reporting, underscoring our commitment to prioritizing the safety of Ohioans.”

Records are added to the state’s CCH whenever an individual is arrested, has a court appearance in connection with a criminal case, or is sentenced in a criminal case, the release states.

Court clerks are responsible for supplying much of the data that populates the database – including fingerprints, which match a criminal record to an individual.

A defendant’s fingerprints can be captured at various stages of the criminal justice process. Due to logistical reasons, however, fingerprinting at times has fallen through the cracks, it notes.

Yost added: “I’m pleased and grateful that so many judges and court clerks have stepped up to solidify their protocols and do their part to keep the state’s criminal records as current and accurate as possible.”

Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene said that every person booked into the Mahoning County jail is fingerprinted, and those fingerprints are submitted to the state.

Have an interesting story? Contact Ed Runyan by email at erunyan@vindy.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribToday.

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Valley courts get upgrades in devices for fingerprints (2024)

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