How to Locate Someone in Prison

Special means must be used to locate inmates in correctional facilities. Let us see how to locate someone in prison.


Step 1

Locate someone in prison by determining the system in which they might be found. American prisons are federal, state or county institutions. Each is managed by a distinct authority. Federal inmates are generally the easiest to locate. Begin your search by looking on the website of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The site contains listings for every inmate in the federal system.

Step 2

Begin your search by selecting the "Inmate Locator" feature. The Inmate Locator offers two primary means of finding an individual. The first requires a knowledge of the prisoner's identification number. The site allows for four kinds of identification numbers: Register Number, DCDC Number, FBI Number and INS number. If you don't have any of this information, you can provide ordinary descriptive information. At minimum, you must enter the prisoner's first and last name. In addition, you may provide information in regard to age, race and sex.

Step 3

To locate an inmate in state prison, look on the Internet for that state's department of corrections. Department of corrections is the usual name for the governmental bureau that manages a state's prison system. Each site will be different. yet all will require certain basic information when it comes to finding an inmate. Typically, you will be asked to provide a Social Security number or prisoner identification number. If you do not have these numbers, you may provide a first and last name along with other descriptive information. The Florida Department of Corrections, for example, accepts driver's license numbers, passport numbers and alien registration numbers. The site also offers the option of describing physical characteristics such as eye color and weight.

Step 4

To find a county inmate will require some additional work. There are some 3,000 counties in the United States and their correctional systems vary considerably. Not all will possess similar capabilities for tracking down an inmate. Internet sites can offer considerable help, especially in larger jurisdictions. These sites will ask for information similar to that required on the federal and state websites. County jails also present an additional difficulty in that many prisoners stay for only short periods of time. Inmates are normally held for less than a year. Furthermore, prisoners may be moved to other facilities as conditions warrant. A prisoner may have been held in a county jail only prior to actual sentencing. After this point the prisoner may have been transferred to a state facility.

Tips and Warnings

Some state prison systems, such as that of California, do not permit an actual Internet search. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation requires that you telephone or fax requests for information.

Things You'll Need

Computer with Internet connection

About this Author

Brian Adler has been writing articles on history, politics, religion, art, architecture and antiques since 2002. His writing has been published with Demand Studios, as well as in an online magazine. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Columbia University.

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