SORNA: Fingerprints and Palm Prints | Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART)
Office of Justice Programs

SORNA: Fingerprints and Palm Prints

Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), requires that jurisdictions include in their registries a set of fingerprints and palm prints from each sex offender (see 34 U.S.C. § 20914(b)(5)). The National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification specify that jurisdictions must maintain fingerprints and palm prints in digital format in order to facilitate immediate access and transmittal of information to various entities.

However, the requirement to maintain fingerprints and palm prints in digital format does not mean that jurisdictions must use digital print-taking devices to obtain registered sex offenders' prints. Rather, to meet this requirement, jurisdictions may either:

  1. use digital print-taking; or
  2. take rolled, inked prints, which the jurisdiction then scans and uploads.

The submission of fingerprints and palm prints to the Next Generation Identification (NGI), which is run by the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) of the FBI, is required by SORNA. While the submission of prints in digital format will generate an immediate alert to the user that the prints will be accepted by NGI, the submission of rolled, inked prints that are scanned will not.1

The SMART Office encourages jurisdictions to consider issues of quality when purchasing a scanner or digital print-taking equipment for uploading and transferring prints. For more information on quality biometric standards, see https://www.fbibiospecs.cjis.gov.

Additionally, tribal SORNA jurisdictions utilizing digital print taking devices (e.g., LiveScan) should consider selecting a device that interfaces with the state system through which they are submitting their prints for upload to NGI. CJIS provides fingerprint cards free of charge to tribes currently scanning or rolling prints (or planning to do so in the future) for direct submission to CJIS.2

To download all of the documents, click here.



1See https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/guidelines-for-capturing-palm-prints-and-supplementals.pdf/view for information on palm prints.

2See https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/fingerprints-and-other-biometrics/ordering-fingerprint-cards-and-training-aids.

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