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Fingerprint Sourcebook - Chapter 4: Recording Living and Postmortem Friction Ridge Skin Exemplars

NCJ Number
Date Published
18 pages

This chapter describes the methods and techniques for recording living and postmortem friction ridge detail.


The skin is primarily consistent in nature everywhere except for the areas covering the palmar surfaces of the fingers and hands and the plantar surfaces of the toes and feet. The skin on these areas is referred to as friction ridge skin. Obtaining legible recordings of these areas of skin is crucial for subsequent comparisons to latent impressions recovered from crime scenes, for comparison against previous records, or for input into automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS). The methods and techniques described in this chapter for recording living and postmortem friction ridge detail are appropriate for the vast majority of conditions and circumstances. However, it is possible that an unusual circumstance will arise that may require extra patience and skill to achieve the most desirable results. Quality recordings from live subjects are usually not too difficult to obtain, as long as the subject is cooperative. Recording postmortem friction ridge detail, however, may become more of a challenge because of the varying conditions of the friction ridge skin. There are also many levels of difficulty associated with this endeavor, which is why proper training, experience, and determination are essential. Figures and references

Date Published: January 1, 2010