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Report No. 87

Appendix 2

American Law as to Fingerprints and Measurements

I. U.S.A.- The basis for federal jurisdiction

In the U.S.A., the basis for federal constitutional jurisdiction in the area of criminal procedure is most prominently the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Its mandate-"due process" as a condition for restricting a person in respect of his life, liberty or property-has furnished the Federal Courts with a jurisdiction whereunder, to a large extent, they require the law enforcement agencies and the courts to conform to certain norms. These norms are mainly derived from the first ten amendments to the Constitution which contain various guarantees, including certain guarantees relevant to criminal procedure.

By their terms, these amendments do not apply to the States, but many of them have become applicable to the States by virtue of a series of Supreme Court decisions construing the words "due process" in the Fourteenth amendment as embracing all the essentials of a fair trial and therefore as incorporating many of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the first ten amendments relevant to criminal proceedings. In other words, if a particular guarantee contained in the first ten amendments is so fundamental as to justify the view that it should be regarded as part of "due process", then the States also must conform to them. It is on this basis that the privilege against self-incrimination (the Fifth Amendment) and the protection against unreasonable search and seizure (the Fourth Amendment) have become applicable to the States.1-2

1. Mapp v. Ohio, (1961) 367 US 643.

2. Malloy v. Hogan, (1964) 378 US 1.

Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 Back

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