Find why someone is in jail

Prisons and Prisoners

A facility might not update its online information on a prisoner for 24 hours or longer after incarceration. The easiest way to do a nationwide inmate search to locate which prison an inmate is located at or where they were held before release , is to search for the person using the Find an Inmate search tool on Bop.

It works for any offender incarcerated from to present day.

Staying in touch with someone in prison

You also have the opportunity to obtain information about current criminal cases and the status of offenders. The same Bop. Visit Bop. Since most states keep an online database of people in the penal system, you can usually find mugshots with identifying information such as the date of the crime and the length of the sentence. They're also listed on this Wikipedia page. Once you get to your state's Department of Corrections page, you might have to do a little bit of searching for penal records.

Know Your Rights

Each state has them listed differently; some might have a link to Offender Search or Inmate Search. Every state's penal search form has a couple of things in common. Searching social media can help you learn some of these details. You also may want to ask friends or family of the person, if they are known and available to you.

Gather Information

This is particularly important if the person you're trying to find has a relatively common name. For example, if you're looking for John Smith, your search of either a state or federal inmate database may turn up many inmates with that name. Additional details can help you find the correct entry more efficiently. The most efficient way to find someone in jail is to look them up by their inmate ID number, but chances are you won't have this information until after you've found them in an inmate database.

Determine the court where the person was convicted. The name and location of the court may provide clues to the location and type of correctional facility where the person is serving time. As an initial matter, you must find out if the person was convicted of a state or federal crime.

Municipal Courts Department

Anyone convicted of a crime in federal court will be in a federal prison, whereas someone convicted of a state crime may be in a state jail or prison. Typically a person convicted in a state court will be serving his or her sentence in a correctional facility in the same state. However, the person may have been transferred if, for example, she was a resident of one state but committed a crime in another. The location of the person within the state also may depend on the availability of space in nearby jails and prisons.

Search criminal court records. Since where someone is serving time often depends on the type and degree of crime he or she was convicted of committing, criminal records can help you figure out where the inmate is located.

Important Things To Know

By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Once you've found the correct person, the listing typically will provide you with additional information including the location where the inmate is housed and his or her inmate ID number. People in custody continue to have rights under the First Amendment of the Constitution to maintain contact with the outside world. You'll need at least a last name just to get started, and if you have a first name, you'll have even better results. Bail — The temporary release of a prisoner in exchange for security given for the prisoner's appearance at a later hearing. Related Police Articles.

Keep in mind that you may be charged a small fee to conduct full searches of criminal records, but you should be able to get basic information such as the crime for which the person was convicted for free. The National Center for State Courts has a directory of online criminal records available for each state.

Jails tend to hold non-violent offenders serving shorter sentences, while prisons have greater security and restrictions and are designed for violent offenders serving longer sentences. Method 2. The Federal Bureau of Prisons maintains a database of all federal inmates incarcerated from to the present.

Conduct an inmate search. The BOP inmate locator searches by first and last name, but also includes fields for race, age, and sex that you can fill in to narrow your search results.

Retrieve the correct listing from the search results. Depending on how much you narrowed your search, you may have to sift through several listings to find the right person.

How to Find Prisoner Info and Mugshots

Each listing will include the inmate's name, BOP Register Number, age, sex, race, and release date or prison location. Clicking on the prison name will take you to that prison's website, where you can find an address or contact information for the prison itself.

Method 3. VINELink is provided by the National Victim Notification Network, and has information about the location and custody status of state prisoners nationwide.

Offender Information Search

Additionally, VINELink has information about state inmates only, not inmates housed in federal corrections facilities. The search engine also has additional fields such as birthdate or age range that you can complete if you know that information to limit your search results and increase your chances of finding the right person. Visit the state corrections department website. Each state's corrections department has a website that will provide you with information about the department and its network of jails and prisons.

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Most states have a searchable database listing all inmates currently housed in correction facilities. Be sure to read the information included on the initial search page regarding the accuracy of the records in the database and how often they're updated. This is particularly important if you're looking at a city or county's website rather than a whole state. Larger cities and counties may update the online database frequently, while more rural areas may only update every few days or once a week. You typically can search using the person's first and last name, or his or her inmate ID number.

Others allow you to search by other identification numbers such as the inmate's Social Security number. Depending on how extensively you've been able to narrow your search results, as well as the size of the department you're searching, you may have to review several records before you find the correct person.