Booking is the process where information about a criminal suspect is entered into the system of a police station or jail after that person’s arrest. Exact procedures may vary amongst jurisdictions, but most share similar features. Generally, police will gather fingerprints, photographs (called “mug shots”), and personal information including the crime the person is alleged to have committed. Further, police search through databases to see if the suspect has outstanding warrants.
All personal effects - including clothing - are taken and the person is searched for weapons or contraband. Personal effects are held until the suspect’s release, excluding if an item is illegal or if it is evidence of the alleged crime. The suspect is then provided with a uniform that they will wear until release. Additionally, medical screenings are conducted to ensure there are no immediate health threats to either the suspect or anyone they might encounter. Finally, the suspect is incarcerated until bail is posted or until the conclusion of their trial.
[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]