Map of Ohio counties where 77 LiveScan grants were awarded, source: Ohio Attorney General's Office

AG Yost: New fingerprint scanners granted to Ohio courts will bolster criminal-records system

A grant program designed to enhance the accuracy and completeness of Ohio’s criminal-records repository will pay for 77 new devices that courts across the state will use to capture defendants’ fingerprints for submission to the database, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced July 2.

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

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Ohio law requires the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) to maintain the state’s computerized criminal history (CCH), a database of fingerprints and criminal records based on information supplied by 200-plus courts statewide as their cases conclude, according to the release. 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 new machines, called LiveScan devices, will be distributed to courts in 42 counties, helping to shore up gaps in defendant fingerprinting and to automate courts’ submission of those fingerprints to the CCH, according to the release.

See the list of LiveScan grant recipients

The devices, which cost $898,450, were purchased through a National Criminal History Improvement Program grant being administered by the Attorney General’s Office. It is the latest such federal grant that Yost’s office has applied for and received in recent years to modernize numerous aspects of that state’s criminal record-keeping and reporting processes, according to the release.

Yost’s decision to fund the LiveScan devices was influenced by court feedback and supported by Chief Justice Sharon L. Kennedy of the Supreme Court of Ohio, the release said.

“Courts are mandated to provide accurate reporting of criminal case information, supported by essential fingerprinting in background checks,” Kennedy said. “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.”

How the process works

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.

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.

Courts can help law enforcement plug the gaps by acquiring LiveScan machines, creating a “belt and suspenders” approach that improves the likelihood of fingerprints being captured and a defendant’s criminal record being promptly submitted to BCI, according to the release.

“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," Yost said.

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