Prison Records

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Find the information you need with a prison records search

Prison records contain all the essential information about an inmate’s incarceration in a federal or state prison. There are several reasons you should search prison records, especially when you're doing a background check before hiring someone for your business.

Prison records are similar to jail records, but they may be far more extensive and detailed. Besides including personal information about the inmate’s name, gender, birthday, physical description, they also include specific details about misdemeanors as well as felony convictions.

The details included in prison records may describe an inmate’s occupation and work history, religious preferences, names of parents and children, the level of education, habits such as drug and alcohol use, and more. Because of the depth of this sensitive personal information, not all prison records are available during public searches.

The name of the judge and sentencing court, the place of incarceration, and the dates of incarceration are also included in prison records searches for most inmates.

Why search prison records?

Prison records contain important information regarding an inmate’s criminal history. They offer you the quickest way to learn the background of someone new in your life. This information is useful to law enforcement, courts, employers, and other members of the public who require access to prison records in the course of their duties.

Police departments, sheriff offices, other law enforcement agencies, and the courts all require access to prison records when apprehending or arresting a suspect. Likewise, since past behavior is the best predictor of future performance, Judges in courts use prison records to help them decide appropriate sentences.

Employers usually perform jail and prison records check to determine whether a job applicant has a criminal record that may disqualify him or her from a particular job opportunity.

Since prison records are usually more detailed and extensive than jail records, they often include important details about the former inmate’s personal life, such as drug addiction or alcohol dependency, which might negatively impact an employer's business.

If you run a prison records check on a prospective employee and discover that he or she has been incarcerated, it's always best to ask the applicant about the circumstances surrounding the incarceration.

The extent of prison records and the nature of the offenses committed are your best indicator as to whether a job applicant may be successful in the future.

It's important to understand that some people who have arrest records from their youth may have matured since then, and could be good employees for you. For example, an inmate who spent a year in prison for a nonviolent marijuana conviction ten years ago will probably be more of an asset to the employer than people with lengthy prison records who were recently released after ten-year sentences for armed robbery.

Background searches for prison records can also help you if you've recently met someone new and are thinking about allowing that person into your life.

There are many horror stories about online romances gone wrong, so a thorough prison records search is mandatory for anyone thinking about dating a stranger. If you keep an open mind and ask plenty of questions, you'll usually find the right answers.

Likewise, before you entrust your child to a new daycare operator, it's always best to perform a prison records search as part of your overall background check.

Finally, a former inmate may wish to search his or her prison records to verify the accuracy of the information. Prison records aren’t perfect. They may contain errors that can affect a future job search, or a future arrest and sentencing.

In some cases, the files of inmates with similar names become mixed, so a search of your prison records and court records is the best way to avoid potential issues.

Even if you have no arrest record or prison record, it's still worthwhile to perform a prison records search on yourself, to make sure that you're not mistaken for a criminal with a similar name.

What to keep in mind during prison records search

There are two main databases that contain prison records. The largest one, known as the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), keeps historical prison records dating between 1870 to 1981.

If you know an inmate's name, date of birth, race, and approximate dates of incarceration, you can look up prison records online using the NARA database. You can also print out or order copies of these records if the originals haven’t been lost or destroyed.

The NARA prison records are very helpful for genealogy research and historical purposes. The Federal Bureau Of Prisons (BOP) maintains a prison records database dating from 1982 to the present day. The BOP also has an online inmate locator through which you can find the prison location and release dates for an inmate.

For more detailed information about a prison record, you must submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which requires that you complete a detailed application specifying the specific public records you want.

Not all prison records are available through public searches. Because of the sensitive personal information they contain, portions of prison records may be redacted (covered up) at the request of the inmate or his or her family. Likewise, law enforcement agencies or victims of crimes may also ask courts to redact all or part of any prison records. There are many reasons for redacting court records, ranging from the protection of victims in sexual assault cases to the endangerment of an informant inmate who may be targeted by enemies.

Still, a prison records search should provide relevant details such as: * Name of the inmate * Charges made at the time of arrest * Name of the judge and court that sentenced the inmate * Location of the prison * Length of sentence * Release date or pending release date

Most personal details about an inmate, such as previous work history and current employment status, marital status, family relations, and personal habits are not available through public record searches. Still, you may be able to obtain them through an FOIA request. Even then, certain prison records may be redacted or sealed.

How to find the best prison records search results

To ensure that you find the right information during you prison records search, it’s a good idea to collect as much information about the subject as you can, before beginning your search.

This method will help you avoid retrieving prison records about the wrong person, who happens to have a similar name. Knowing an inmate’s full name, date of birth, race, and location of incarceration will be especially helpful. If you know the county (not just the state) where an inmate was convicted and sentenced, you'll narrow the people search considerably.

If you don’t have this information, ask the inmate's friends or family members, or conduct a social media search, to make sure you're looking for the right person. By using the right online prison records search platform, such as this site, you'll receive the most accurate results while avoiding dead ends and time-wasting false positives.