Sean Gardiner
Wall Street Journal
November 15, 2010

New York City police started using machines to scan the irises of prisoners for the first time Monday, part of a failsafe measure meant to ensure that suspects appearing before judges are not misidentified.

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This past winter a New York City man charged with five armed robberies was released by a judge on his own recognizance after posing as a different prisoner who was arrested on a small-time drug offense. Freddie Thompson, 34, pulled the vanishing act from Staten Island Criminal court on March 10.

No one realized that the accused robber was gone until his case was called an hour later. Mr. Thompson was recaptured later that same day, police said.

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A review of the mix up determined that the police officer who escorted Mr. Thompson to his court appearance didn’t check his identification. It’s a rare occurrence, but it has happened more than once.

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