This chapter traces the major developments that laid the foundation for contemporary registration and community notification laws, providing the necessary background for an understanding of the forces propelling their modern proliferation in America. The need for a more systematic method to distinguish individuals gave rise to important innovations, each designed to render the criminal element more knowable: daguerreotype “rogues' galleries,” Bertillonism, and fingerprint analysis in particular. In Germany, France, Britain, and antebellum America, governments engaged in early registration efforts, requiring that individuals themselves, including noncriminal offenders, provide identifying information. With registration, governments secured a powerful new way to identify and monitor individuals on an ongoing basis, facilitated, importantly, by the compelled extraction of information from the individuals themselves, adding a unique plank to the platform of government surveillance capability and authority.
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