A Kentucky state law that took effect July 12 requires jailers to collect and transmit fingerprints from every inmate booked. Previously, the law wasn’t clear as to whether jailers or arresting officers were supposed to take the prints, so in many cases no one did, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. As a result, fewer than half of the more than 300,000 people arrested in Kentucky last year are entered in the state and national fingerprint databases.
Jailers have said they don’t have the time and manpower to do so, even though the state has provided automated Livescan electronic fingerprint equipment to all 74 Kentucky jails. Some jailers are unhappy, saying the law forces them to fingerprint with no extra money to hire staff. “We’re not equipped for it,” said Warren County Jailer Jackie T. Strode, who estimates that he will have to hire up to five more workers to handle all three shifts of booking and fingerprinting. “It’s an unfunded mandate that now county taxpayers will have to foot the bill.” The law says the state Corrections Department — which pays jails to house state inmates — can withhold state money from jails that refuse to comply.