Q:

How do you locate a jail or prison inmate?

A:

Quick Answer

Individuals seeking to locate inmates residing in a state prison can visit a state Department of Corrections website that provides a searchable database. To locate an inmate in the federal corrections system, visit the prisoner search page at the U.S. Department of Justice website, justice.gov.

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Full Answer

Some states require that people agree to a disclaimer before accessing the prison locator database. For example, people conducting searches at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation must agree to not hold the CDCR responsible for any consequences of locating inmates, and accept that inappropriate use of the information can lead to criminal or civil penalties. After agreeing, users are able to find inmates by entering a name or prisoner identification number. Other states, such as Florida, do not make users agree to indemnification before searching for inmates. The Florida Department of Corrections provides guidance on finding inmate information, such as mugshot photos and offender records.

If an inmate is not listed in the state prisoner database, that inmate might have been released from custody, or the local law enforcement agency may not share prisoner data online. The U.S. Department of Justice maintains an online federal inmate locator, which contains records starting from 1982. The agency also offers a directory of federal prison facilities.

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