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How can you access public jail records?

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Quick Answer

Public records from a jail can be accessed either online or by requesting records from a jail through a freedom of information/open record request. Many jails have information portals available on their websites for publicly available information about a jail inmate.

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Full Answer

The Oakland County, Michigan jail provides access to public records of the inmates incarcerated in the jail on its website, as of 2015. You can click on a PDF list of inmates incarcerated or released in the previous 72 hours or a get a list of all inmates currently incarcerated at the jail.

The Texas Jail Project website has guidance for how to get public records, documents or information from jails in Texas, as of 2015. The website features a sample letter you can use for making the records request to a jail. The website also offers tips for making a request for public documents, whether the request is directed to a jail or another government office. The request for public records must be in writing and should be for records that are already in existence. Jail officials usually are not required to create records that do not already exist in response to a public records request.

In Texas, if a jail does not respond to an open records request, or responds and does not provide all the requested documents, you can call the Texas Open Records Division Hotline toll free at (877) 673-6839, as of 2015.

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