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Cameron County Jail Armed with Eye-Scanning Technology

3 years 6 months 2 days ago Tuesday, July 25 2017 Jul 25, 2017 July 25, 2017 5:36 PM July 25, 2017 in News

BROWNSVILLE - The Cameron County Sheriff's Department is now using IRIS, or the Inmate Recognition Identification System.

Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said it will identify inmates and their criminal history by scanning their eye. That unique eye print, he said, will make it harder for imposters to evade authorities.

The Carrizales-Rucker Detention Center is the first in the state to get the system. El Paso is also using it.

The sophisticated technology scans an inmate's eye, and then their identifying information is recorded in the system and indefinitely attached to their eye print and the system. If that inmate has already been at another jail that uses IRIS, their information from their previous arrests will come up.

Lucio added in a border area where people are constantly on the move, and in many instances, where they find it easy to use aliases to evade capture by authorities, this technology will make it impossible for anyone to pretend to be someone they are not.

"Especially when it's an illegal person that comes in (to the country), because they know good and well that when they get picked up by the Border Patrol or anywhere else, they don't want to give the same name," Lucio said. "They know if they get picked up two or three times, and get arrested, they go to federal prison. So, consequently, they will give you different names and aliases. Sure, we have fingerprints, but fingerprints sometimes take a long time to get back."

The sheriff said the jail can have 1,600 inmates at any given point, and there is room for human error as was the case several years ago.

An inmate convinced another to exchange identification bracelets with him in exchange for money. The wrong inmate walked out of the jail without any issues.

The sheriff said although the inmate was caught several hours later, it can't happen again.

The county jail will have the system for the first three years, free of charge. If the sheriff decides to keep it after that, then the county will be charged a fee, he said.

Lucio said everyone in custody has already been scanned and entered in the system, and all the inmates matched the identity they provided law enforcement.

The sheriff said inmates' eyes will be scanned upon arrival and before they are released.

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