State Records

What is an Inmate Record?

Inmate records are documents created upon the internment of a convicted criminal into the criminal correctional system. Inmate records in the United States are typically held by correctional facilities, jails, prisons, and often by the law enforcement agency that operates the detention facility in question. Data included in inmate records typically contain the name of the inmate, personal information, location information, and the status of their confinement.

Inmate records, police reports, arrest records may also provide related information such as:

  • Degree of offense
  • Admission Date
  • Court Name
  • Sentence status
  • Custody classification
  • Sentence type
  • Inmate type
  • Rewards for good behavior
  • Demerits for bad behavior

Jails and Prisons in the United States

Each state runs prisons. As of 2019, there were over 1,700 state-run prisons in the United States which hold 2.3 million people. Other municipalities, such as counties, also run facilities, as do townships, cities, and even smaller municipalities. These total to over 3,000 additional detention facilities. There are also 1,772 juvenile correctional facilities, 80 Indian Country jails, and more.

To learn more about a specific state’s correctional departments and detention facilities, find your state below:

How do I Find Out if Someone is in Jail or Prison

To find out if someone is an inmate, the first step should be the use of the prison or jail inmate locator website of the correctional jurisdiction area in question. Nearly every correctional system, prison system, and jail system has implemented a way to find inmates currently or soon to be incarcerated. Inmates in the United States can be located through the website of the law enforcement agency responsible for managing the concentration facility in question, the website for the concentration facility itself, or the federal prison website.

How to Find an Inmate in a State Prison

Online databases of people who currently are (or those who shortly will be) confined at a correctional facility are common if not ubiquitous. State run prisons are typically higher security facilities, but inmate locators exist for every state nationwide. In order to perform an inmate search for a state-run facility, it is recommended to have the following information before beginning your search.

  • The first and last name of the inmate
  • The gender, race, and age-range of the inmate
  • The last known institution where the inmate was held

Sites of this nature may have additional fees. Should an inmate prove difficult to find, third party search engines may be able to help refine or complete a search.

How to Find an Inmate in County Jail, City Jail, or Prison

Online records are usually available through government websites or websites of organizations that handle such duties. Interested parties can navigate to these websites to view online directories or pay a small fee to perform an inmate lookup. Counties, cities, and municipal correctional facilities typically have online inmate locators. These locators are usually operated through county government or sheriff websites, and city or local law enforcement websites. Each local, city, and county inmate locator will operate independently, meaning results may vary.

To perform an online search for inmate records through a local, city, or county law enforcement website or incarceration facility website;

  1. Research where the convicted or imprisoned person is kept. This can be done through criminal records, or by using third party record amalgamation websites
  2. Determine if online inmate records are available for the law enforcement or incarceration facility in question. Prepare for this by having personal name, age, and address available, as well as that of the inmate in question
  3. Follow the instructions provided by the website to gain access to the inmate record should it exist

How to Find a Federal Inmate

Federal inmates can be found using the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BoP) inmate locator providing the interested party has access to certain information about the inmate. Inmates kept in federally run incarceration facilities can be found in two different ways.

  • The first way is to acquire the first and last name of the inmate, and (optionally) a middle name, date or birth, ethnicity, and gender to use in an inmate search.
  • The second way to acquire the inmate number of the inmate from the BoP Registry, the D.C. Department of Corrections, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or the Immigration and Naturalization Services.

Knowledge of an inmate’s full name is the minimum required information to locate a prisoner at a state level or lower. Additional information on incarceration facilities in a specific state may be found in the list above.

What’s the Difference between Detention Center and a Jail or Prison?

While the name detention center is often used to refer to any kind of facility that detains a prison population, officially detention centers have a different meaning. They are the locations that detainees are held while waiting for their trial. This includes trials and hearings for deportation, non-criminal acts, mental health evaluations, and for civil hearings involving mental hospital commitment. Practically these terms may be used the same, but it is recommended when searching for inmates that the terms “jail” or “prison” be used.

How to Visit an Inmate

Each prison has its own rules for visitation, including visitation hours, though each federal inmate gets a minimum 4 hours of visitation per month. Local, county, and city prisons and jails often reward additional visitation hours, though results may vary depending on the jurisdiction.

How to Visit a State Inmate

State run confinement facilities allow for visitation, but typically have strict rules for visitation. These include hours that can vary depending on the facility, dress codes, banned items, personal status restrictions, and more. It is best to schedule a visit before going to the facility where the inmate is held, as prior announcement and restrictions must be considered. People with outstanding warrants, who are currently on probation or parole, or on another form of conditional release are typically not allowed to visit state correctional facilities. The process for visitation approval can take multiple weeks, but typically less than a month.

How to Visit a Local or County Inmate

Corrections facilities at a local or county level have varying schedules and visitation rules. More information on specific states is available in the list above, but generally, visitation hours may be found through the government website of the jurisdiction where the prison is located.

Prior to visiting an inmate at an incarceration facility, be sure to gain approval through the facility, and make sure to be added to the approved visitors list. This process may take 3 to 4 weeks on average, though results may vary.

How to Visit a Federal Prisoner

Locations and contact information for federal prisons are available online. According to the BoP, before visiting a federal inmate visitors must be sure to gain prior approval, review visitation rules for the facility you are visiting, and plan their visit inside of visitation hours. They must also be sure to observe a dress code, physical contact restrictions, and warden-dictated visitation rules. The inmate must also add the visitor to their visitation list. People allowed to visit federal inmates include:
  • Direct family including parents, guardians, siblings, spouses, and children
  • More distant relatives including grandparents, in-laws, cousins, and parents’ siblings
  • 10 friends or associates, foreign officials, clergy, civic group members, past or potential employers, sponsors, and legal officials and associates.

How Do I Send Money to an Inmate?

Inmates can acquire money while incarcerated, providing someone outside the facility sends them funds. There are typically three ways to do this, though individual incarceration facilities, including state prisons, county jails, and local detention centers may offer unique rules. The three ways to send money to an inmate include:

  • MoneyGram, which wires money electronically. This method requires knowledge of the inmates register number, their name, and the address of the detention facility.
  • Western Union, which wires money electronically. This method requires knowledge of the inmates register number, their full name, and a code city which is always either “FBOP, DC.”
  • The United States Postal Service, which delivers physical money orders to the detention facility. Sending funds this way requires money be converted to a money order (personal checks and cash are not accepted), knowledge of the inmates full name, and their register number. All mail, regardless of the detention center address , must be sent to:

Federal Bureau of Prisons,
Inmate’s Name
Inmates Register Number
P.O. Box 474701,
Des Moines, IA, 50947-0001

Any of these methods requires the location of the inmate prior to sending money. Particularly in the case that an inmate is held in a private detention facility, as these facilities operate outside usual federal rules. Each private facility may have additional rules when sending money, visiting, or other interactions with inmates.

How to Find Inmate Records

Online records are usually available through government websites or websites of organizations that handle such duties. Interested parties can navigate to these websites to view online directories or pay a small fee to perform a search. To perform an online search for inmate records through a local law enforcement or incarceration facility;

  1. Research where the convicted or imprisoned person is kept. This can be done through criminal records, or by using third party record amalgamation websites
  2. Determine if online inmate records are available for the law enforcement or incarceration facility in question. Prepare for this by having personal name, age, and address available, as well as that of the inmate in question.
  3. Follow the instructions provided by the website to gain access to the inmate record should it exist.

How to Find a Federal Inmate Record

Federal Inmate Records, also known as prison records, can be found through the National Archives and Records Administration for records from 1870 to 1981, and through the BoP via FOIA requests, the DOJ-361 form, and through their online directory of federal inmate records. Additional information on the BoP maybe found through their online library.

What is a Private Prison?

Private prisons are for-profit companies that are contracted most often by state governments, though a significant number are also contracted from federal government bodies. They operate similarly to public prisons, but do not operate under the same structure of government run internment facilities. Instead the relationship between a private prison and government bodies is more akin to a contractor/client relationship.

Rules for visiting private prisons, finding an inmate at a private prison, or sending money to an inmate at a private prison are similar or identical for the methods recommended for public prisons. For any irregularities, it is recommended that interested parties visit the private prison’s website for further instructions or methods.

Private prisons largely came to prominence in the 1980s after the initiation of the War on Drugs. The sudden influx of new prisoners resulted in prison overpopulation. The federal government began to contract private prison facilities, which were created by business interests that saw the opportunity. As of 2017, 121,718 people are kept in private prisons, which represent just over 8 percent of the total prison population of the United States.

The top 10 private prison populations in states exist in;

  • Vermont (15% of state prison population)
  • Indiana (15%)
  • Mississippi (16%)
  • Colorado (18%)
  • Arizona (19%)
  • Hawaii (25%)
  • Tennessee (26%)
  • Oklahoma (27%)
  • Montana (39%)
  • New Mexico (43%)

Should an inmate search of lookup prove unhelpful, or if determining their incarceration facility through criminal records proves difficult, third party amalgamation websites can help simplify the search process.

Inmate Files
Contact:(855) 227-0892

Results Include

Full Criminal Case Details:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Blackmail
  • Conspiracy
  • Domestic Violence
  • Embezzlement
  • Extortion
  • Felonies
  • Firearms
  • Fraud
  • Infractions
  • Kidnapping
  • Larceny
  • Manslaughter
  • Mayhem
  • Misdemeanors
  • Murder
  • Obstruction
  • Perjury
  • Parole Violation
  • Probation Violation
  • Robbery
  • Sexual Assault
  • Solicitation
  • Theft

Results are based upon available information from state, county and municipal databases, and may not include some or all of the above details.

Criminal Record

Criminal Record

  • There were over 1,240,000 reported violent crimes in the United States in 2017.
  • Between 2006 and 2010, approximately 3.4 million violent crimes went unreported.
  • Around 73 million (29.5%) of Americans have criminal records, many of which are eligible for sealing or expungement.
  • There were nearly 7.7 million property crimes in the United States in 2017. This represents a 3.6% decrease from the previous year.
  • Some newspapers have reported the cost of a public record can cost between $5 and $399,000.
  • In 2017, there were 1,920 presidential pardon requests. Of those, 142 were granted.