A laser-diode-based joint transform correlator (JTC) is reported here for the identification and discrimination of fingerprints. The system employs compact and inexpensive laser diodes as the light sources and a bacteriorhodopsin (BR) film in the Fourier plane, which can record the joint power spectrum without the need for expensive spatial light modulators or CCD cameras. The BR film also introduces nonlinearities in the Fourier plane which can improve JTC performance. In addition, real-time, all-optical programmable spatial filtering is demonstrated to improve the discrimination of the system. We present computer modeling and experimental results of this optical correlator, which shows excellent potential for the identification and discrimination of fingerprints.