How to Find Inmates in Jail or Prison

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Locating inmates in jail or prison used to be quite a hassle. Especially for those who wanted to find family or friends with whom they had lost contact. The process was packed with hurdles, huge lines, and endless paperwork. However, since 1982, the US State Department of Corrections has made it a simple and seamless process that anyone can use.

There are only two classifications of inmates in jail or prison.  Those who have committed an offense and those who are held on immigration charges. You may not need to hire a lawyer for this process as we will demonstrate below. You can utilize government resources at no cost.

How to Find Inmates in Jail or Prison

inmates in jail or prisonThere are two ways to find out in what correctional facility a person is being held. The first is doing it the old-fashioned way, paying a direct visit to your State Department of Corrections (SDC). This is usually recommended if you need to find out the health condition of the inmate. You may also make special requests for visits, parole, etc.

To expedite the process, here are the Documents that you will need. Before visiting your SDC, be sure that you have the following details neatly prepared. If you can present a written letter with this information, it will help the clerk process your request.

  1.  Name (including middle name or initial)
  2. Date of birth or approximate age at the time of incarceration.
  3. Race.
  4. Approximate dates in prison.

Remote Investigation

Another convenient way to find inmates is through the government website. There is easy access to all the necessary resources that you may need. There is an inbuilt search system that works just like Google. You just type the person’s information, and the results will inform you of their location and whom to contact for further details.

Additional resources like Sex Offender Registry, Offender Contact information, and Offender Visitation forms, are available.

Here is how to do it. Open the SDC website in your web browser, and scroll down to the Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate locator. You can look up inmates in two ways: 

  • First and last name (required) and middle name, age, race, and sex (optional) 
  • Inmate number from any one of these institutions: Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Register,  D.C. Department of Corrections (DCDC), or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 

How to Find a Person Held for an Immigration Violation

The US Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) may sometimes move immigrants to different locations as they deem fit. You can get beyond worries and easily find these people if:

They were, or, are being held for possible violation of immigration laws 
They received an ICE release grant during the past 60 days and were released from a detention facility

The easiest way is to use the government  Online Detainee Locator System. This locator will only show results for detainees 18 years or older. Optionally, you may choose to contact an ICE office.

Please note that if you know the location of the detainment center where the person is being held, you should call that facility directly.



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