The intake area at the Knox County Jail has a new state-of-the-art piece of equipment that scans fingerprints and sends them electronically to state and FBI databases.

In the past the process involved taking fingerprints with the use of ink and paper that had to be mailed to other law enforcement agencies.

Sheriff Donna Dennison said the new LiveScan machine cost about $33,000. The new equipment was funded through a grant received by the Maine State Police.

Corporal Robbie Shaw of the Knox County Jail demonstrated how the machine works. An inmate’s hand is placed on a glass plate, a bit similar to the surface of a photocopying machine. Each fingertip and each palm print as well as the sides of the hands can be scanned in this way, and jail staff said the machine produces better prints than the old method of pressing inked hands on paper.

The officer performing the fingerprinting can use both hands to place the inmate’s hands on the scanner and work the machine via a foot pedal.

An Internet connection allows the jail to immediately send the prints to FBI and state databases. The officer can also print out the fingerprints on paper.