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Why Fingerprints are Taken when One is Arrested


It is a common practice almost all over the world that when a suspect is arrested for any reason,their fingerprints will be obtained before being put in prison or cells. However, not so many people are aware of the reason behind this. Here is a story about how taking of fingerprints of inmates started.

There were two inmates who had same name and were so much identical such that it was not easy to tell one from the other despite not being related in any way nor knowing each other before. Will West and William West were two inmates at Leavenworth Penitentiary.

Will West was taken to the prison in 1903 and his details such as measurements and description were found to have matched those of William West, a prisoner who was already convicted for murder. This became a puzzle to the prison management on how the two inmates could be that similar in several ways despite not being related. Therefore, they decided to check on their fingerprints and it was discovered that the two men had different fingerprints.

This solidified the idea of using fingerprints to identify the inmates, a practice that had already been in use though was not so common.


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