Jails and prisons house people who are awaiting trial and inmates who have been convicted of a crime. These facilities are divided into county jails, state prisons, and federal prisons.
Jails and prisons maintain records on every person who is currently or was formerly incarcerated at their facility. These records are open to the public and are often available through online databases.
Jails and prisons keep records on the prisoners in their custody. This includes current inmates as well as former inmates. These records contain a wealth of information on the inmate's history.
Jail and prison records contain important information, including:
In some cases, jail and prison records also contain additional details, including:
People who have been charged with a crime but have not yet been convicted will have a jail or prison record if they were housed at a jail or prison while awaiting trial. In most jurisdictions, the county jail holds people while their cases are pending.
Jails and prisons also keep records on people who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison, either by a local, state, or federal court.
Online databases are the best way to obtain jail and prison records. If you know the individual's name and the location of the person's trial, you can obtain a jail or prison record from the local, state, or federal corrections agency that has the individual in custody.
For individuals in custody at a county jail, many counties provide an online database of their inmates. In some cases, you may have to contact the local sheriff's department, which may run the county jail.
For inmates at a state prison, the state's Department of Corrections may provide an online inmate locator. In some cases, you can contact the Department of Corrections directly by phone or email to obtain prison records.
For inmates at a federal prison, start with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Inmate Locator. This is an online database of current and former inmates that dates back to 1881. The BOP Inmate Locator will give you the age, race, sex, and registration number of the inmate, as well as the projected release date and the prison where the inmate is incarcerated.