U.S. Inmates Search
An inmate search is a process that allows interested persons access information about individuals who are currently incarcerated in holding facilities located within the U.S. Generally, inmate searches are conducted by querying government agencies that oversee jails and prisons in the U.S. These agencies include the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), states Department of Corrections, County Sheriff's Offices, and Local Police Departments. Depending on what an agency permits, an inquirer may visit relevant agencies in-person to request an inmate search. Where limited information regarding the facility is available, the inquirer may perform a phone number search and retrieve contact information about the facility to make their query via phone call. Most agencies also maintain online resources interested persons can use to conduct inmate searches.
To conduct a U.S. inmate database search, an inquirer must supply certain search criteria to identify the desired inmate and facilitate the data search swiftly.
Interested parties typically conduct an inmate search to find out where an inmate is being held, the inmate's bond information, prospective release date, and other pertinent information about an inmate. Public release of inmates' information is permitted per the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and states public records laws.
What Do Inmate Records Contain?
Some of the most common information and data contained in an inmate's record;
- The inmate's full name
- Booking number
- Holding facility's name
- The inmate's physical description, such as race, sex, hair color, height, weight, birth date, scars, marks, and tattoos
- Known aliases
- Booking date
- Total term and term served
- Parole status
- Case number
- Charged offense
- Expected release date
Note that some of the information mentioned above may not be provided depending on the state and facility where an inmate is being held. Furthermore, certain states and facilities may supply additional information.
How to Find Someone in Jail in U.S.
Jails are typically operated by county Sheriff's Offices and city/town Police Departments in the state where the facility is situated. Hence, anyone who wants to find someone incarcerated in a jail in the U.S. must query the law enforcement agency responsible for the jail's operations. As stated earlier, these agencies could be the police department of the town/city where the facility is located or the Sheriff's Office of the respective county.
Most law enforcement agencies usually maintain online search portals inquirers can use to find inmates of jails they operate. These portals are typically available on the official website of the agency. For instance, in Texas, inquirers can use the Travis County Sheriff's Office's "find an inmate" page to find individuals who are currently detained in any jail in the county. Similarly, the Harris County Sheriff's Office, Texas, also maintains an online search portal that inquirers can use to find individuals currently detained in jail facilities within their jurisdiction (Harris County). Inquirers can use a subject name or other identifiers to conduct a search through these portals and similar portals maintained by other law enforcement agencies across the U.S. Other identifiers include and are not limited to the inmate's booking number and birth date.
Most jail inmate search portals maintained by corrections and law enforcement agencies across the U.S. are generally free to use. Thus, inquirers are not charged a fee to search such portals.
Prisons in the U.S.
In the U.S., the Federal Bureau of Prisons operates and maintains prisons at the federal level. In total, the Bureau oversees 98 federal prisons located in different parts of the country. These facilities have varying security levels ranging from minimum to administrative security. Of the 98 federal prisons, 27 are female facilities.
Interested persons can find the contact information and address of each BOP's prison facility on the Our Location page on the Bureau's website. By default, the page would list all BOP facilities, including headquarters, offices, prisons, and training centers. To view a list of only prisons, one must select the "prisons" option on the third dropdown menu labeled "All Facility Types" on the page.
U.S. Prison Inmate Search For Free
Interested persons can conduct a free inmate search for inmates held in a state-run prison facility through the inmate search portal maintained by the state's Department of Correction. Inquirers can search these portals using a subject name or other unique identifiers. For instance, interested persons can conduct an inmate search for Texas state prison inmates through the Inmate Search portal maintained by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Generally, three criteria can be used to search the portal: the subject's name, TDCJ number, or SID number. Other detail, such as the inmate's gender and race, can also be provided to filter the search results further.
Similarly, inquirers can conduct a New York prison inmate search through the Incarcerated Lookup portal provided by the New York State Department of Correction and Community Supervision (DOCCS). Users can search the portal by supplying an inmate's name, Department ID number, or NYSID number. Additionally, inquirers can use the Public Inmate Locator System the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) provides to search for California prison inmates. On the system, inmate searches are conducted using a subject name or CDCR number.
The portals mentioned above and similar portals run by other state's relevant Departments are free to use. Hence, interested persons can use these portals to conduct free U.S. prison inmate searches. Common information about inmates that inquirers can obtain through these portals includes; the inmate's name, age, current location, booking date, projected release date, and offense information.
How to Conduct a Federal Inmate Search
The Inmate Locator tool provided by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) can be used by inquirers to conduct a federal inmate search for free. The BOP tool contains information about federal inmates incarcerated between 1982 to the present. There are mainly two ways an inquirer can use to conduct a search through the tool, by an inmate's name or number. Different types of numbers can be used to search the BOP tool; these include an inmate's BOP Register Number, DCDC number, FBI number, or NIS number. Alternatively, inquirers can use an inmate's name to conduct a search. When searching by name, inquirers can supply additional information about the inmate, such as their race, age, and sex, to filter down results.
How to Make and Recieve Inmate Phone Calls
Each U.S. state and the Federal Bureau of Prison (BOP) has rules and regulations that dictate how inmates can make and receive phone calls. Generally, individuals are not allowed to call an inmate directly. Instead, inmates can make outgoing calls from a designated jail phone number to individuals they wish and are approved to call.
According to a publication on Federal Inmates' Access to Telephone, BOP facilities can be classified into two types: those having an Inmate Telephone System (ITS) and those without. In BOP facilities with ITS installed, each inmate must submit a telephone list containing a maximum of 30 numbers. The phone numbers on these lists must be pre-approved by the inmate's holding facility before the inmate can call such numbers. On the other hand, institutions without ITS do not limit the phone numbers their inmates can call to pre-approved numbers. Regardless of whether an inmate is being detained in a BOP facility with or without ITS, inmates are typically allowed to make either collect or debit calls.
State ran prisons typically maintain individual systems their inmates can use to make phone calls. For instance, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice maintains the Inmate Telephone System (OTS), allowing eligible inmates to call friends and family. The TDCJ Disciplinary Rules and Procedures for Offenders govern inmates' use of OTS. These rules are available in English and Spanish. Under these rules, an individual must register their phone number before receiving a phone call from a TDCJ inmate. There are mainly two ways one can register their number for OTS:
- The Internet: interested persons can register their number to receive calls from TDCJ inmates through the Texas Friends & Family Enrollment Center website. Some items registrants would need to facilitate their phone number registration through the website include a Texas driver's license or State ID and the inmate's TDCJ ID number. If a registrant does not have a Texas driver's license or State ID, an out-of-state driver's license or the registrant's photograph may suffice. If an inmate's TDCJ ID number is unknown, a registrant can use the online inmate search portal or call (936) 295-6371 or (800) 535-0283 to make inquiries.
- By phone: interested parties can also register their phone number by calling (866) 806-7804.
In Texas, inmate phone calls are generally charged in one of three ways; collect calls, friends and family prepaid, and inmate telephone prepaid debit account (Securus Debit Account). The receiver of the call is charged the call fees for collect calls. In the case of friends and family prepaid calls, the owner of the phone number the inmate calls pre-establishes an account funded by themselves to which the inmate calls are charged. Lastly, for inmate telephone prepaid debit account calls, the call charge are taken from the inmate's account. An inmate account can be funded by both the inmate and their family.
Some of the most common rules that apply to Texas OTS include and are not limited to;
- Phones are available from 5:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m. However, this timeframe is subject to changes.
- Inmates are allowed a maximum of 30 minutes per call and unlimited minutes per month.
- A warning message will be heard one minute before a call is automatically ended.
Unlike Texas, in some other states, neither inmates nor their friends or family are charged when the inmate makes a phone call. For instance, under Senate Bill (S.B.) 1008 (Keep Families Connected Act), all calls made by California correctional facility inmates are completely free of charge. Phone calls made by inmates in California correctional facilities are generally limited to 15 minutes per call. Furthermore, in other to receive a phone call from a California inmate, the call receiver must have an active ConnectNetwork Advance Pay account with VPT.
It is important to note that all calls made by inmates are monitored regardless of the facility where they are being held. In most circumstances, inmates' calls to their legal representative may be unmonitored.
How to Visit an Inmate in U.S.
Before visiting inmates at most U.S. correctional facilities, including state and federal prisons, prospective visitors must be pre-approved.
Inmates of BOP facilities (federal prisons) are generally allowed to create a visitation list upon their arrival at a facility. A BOP facility's inmate can add individuals to their visitation list by completing their portion of the Visitor Information Form and mailing copies of the form to each potential visitor. Afterward, the potential visitor must appropriately complete the remaining portion of the form and mail it back to the inmate's address provided on the form. The BOP will process each form, and more background information on applicants may be requested.
Inmates are usually informed when an applicant has been added to their visitation list, and the inmate is responsible for informing the applicant. Generally, only specific sets of individuals can be approved and added to a BOP facility inmate's visitation list. A list of these sets of individuals is published on the BOP General Visiting Information page. Prospective visitors are advised to familiarise themselves with all visiting rules, regulations, and procedures prior to their visit. These rules are also published on the BOP General Visiting Information page. An Individual who has been added to an inmate visitation list can contact the facility where the inmate is being held to schedule a visit. Most BOP facilities have visiting hours on Saturdays, Sundays, Holidays, and specific times during some weekdays. Interested persons can use the BOP "Our Locations" directory to find the contact information of each BOP facility.
Visiting an inmate in state-run prison is fairly similar to federal prison. A prospective visitor must first apply to become an approved visitor or be added to an inmate's visitation list. For instance, a prospective visitor must complete the Visitation Application form (DC6-111A) to apply to become an approved visitor of a Florida prison inmate. The completed DC6-111A can be submitted to the inmate's current holding facility for approval by mail to the facility's classification department or via email to the facility's email address. It takes approximately 30 days for an application to be processed. After which, the inmate would be issued a notice informing them about the facility's decision, and the inmate may notify the applicant of the decision.
Prospective visitors whose application has been approved can schedule a visit online through the Visitation Request Form provided by the Florida Department of Corrections. The Visitation Request Form is also available in Spanish. Once an approved prospective visitor submits the request form online, the facility's staff will process the request. After the request has been reviewed, employees of the facility will send a notice of denial or approval to the applicant's email address they provided on the form. For information on the Florida prisons visitation rules and what to do when an application is denied, interested persons can review Florida Administrative Code, Chapter 33, Section 601.711-737.
How to Conduct an Inmate Release Date Lookup
Interested persons can conduct an inmate release date lookup through online inmate search portals provided by law enforcement agencies and correctional facilities. These search portals generally offer basic information about inmates in custody. In most cases, these pieces of information include the inmate's projected release date. For instance, interested persons can use the online inmate search portal provided Texas Department of Criminal Justice to find information on inmates being held in correctional facilities the department oversees. This information includes and is not limited to relevant inmates' location, offenses, and projected release dates.
If the inquirer is a victim of an inmate's crime and would like to look up the inmate's release date, they can use the Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) system. Most states' Department of Correction provides VINE as a public safety tool to protect crime victims against offenders. VINE is usually a phone number a crime victim can call to obtain information on a particular inmate. For instance, qualified persons can 888-846-3469 access VINE in the state department of corrections in New York. Crime victims can also register their number with VINE to be notified when an inmate is released.
It is equally important to note that certain inmate release dates may not be publicly available information according to a court order or specific state laws. Only a few eligible persons are allowed access to the inmate release date in such cases.