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How to Find Out If Someone is in Jail

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in CrimeNovember 05, 2020

There are dozens of reasons you might want to find out if someone is in jail. There are a few different ways you can do it. Let’s get started discussing each method and how you can find out if someone is in jail.

Gathering Information

Before you start, you will need some basic information. It’s good to have the person’s full name and address. If you have their birthdate and gender, even better. Some techniques for finding an incarcerated person require that you also have the city, state, and county where they committed the crime. You might also need to know the specific charges. It’s helpful to know which police agency first arrested them and what courthouse they were arraigned in. 

Once you have all the information you can gather, you can use one of the following methods to find a person in jail or prison. You also need to remember that there are three types of facilities: federal prisons, state prisons, and county and local jails. You may need to know where the person is being held before you start your search. 

Finding a Person in Jail

If the person was just arrested or could not make bail and are awaiting their trial in jail, you can try a few things.

Some county Sheriff’s offices and local police stations have websites where they post a roster of all suspects arrested in the prior weeks/months. You can first check there. Sometimes they even offer a search bar where you can enter a person’s name and see if their name comes up. The search results may show you the crime they were arrested for and the jailhouse where law enforcement is holding them. You may also see dates such as the date of their initial arrest or when they are scheduled to go before a judge for a hearing.

Depending on the state where the crime was committed, a few have consolidated justice systems. In those cases, the state’s Department of Corrections may also have this information online, or you can call them to inquire where a person is being held and if he or she is in custody.

Another option for finding someone in jail is to check local newspapers (arrest logs) and online sources. Some online newspapers actually post arrest reports along with mug shots of recently arrested people in the area.

If the person was just arrested, they might not be entered into any system yet. If you know where they were taken, you could contact the local police or Sheriff’s office to ask about them. Some will readily give you information; others will not. 

Finding a Person in Prison

If the person was convicted of a crime and is now serving their sentence in either a state or federal prison, you could consult an inmate locator. Most states in the U.S. and the federal government also has a website that you can visit to search for an inmate. Not all state prisons have these. If the person is held in federal prison, visit www.bop.gov, and you can search there and find inmates along with how to send gifts or visit an inmate. Keep in mind that some inmates may serve out their entire sentence in local jail if the offense is minor and the sentence short. 

A typical inmate search will show you the person’s name, address, physical details, race, gender, age, sometimes a mugshot, their crimes, and sentences. The results will also show you the name and address of the prison they are incarcerated in. You may also see a release date or parole date. 

You can also check online sex offender registries to see if the person you are searching for was convicted of a sex crime.

If you are the victim of someone in jail, you can request an alert when they are scheduled to be released, in case you fear them coming after you again. You may need the person’s offender ID, which you can usually get through other sources like the Department of Corrections for the state. 

Online Offender Searches

There are specific websites like VINElink (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) that offer the public a way to search for offenders throughout the U.S. This service is free and will notify victims when an offender is going to be released. 

Third-Party Websites

If you strike out with these other options or you want to make the job easier, you can use a third-party website like InfoTracer to enter someone’s name and find out instantly whether or not they have been arrested, what criminal charges they are facing, and where they are being held. Along with that information, you will see a ton more such as other criminal records, court cases, marriages and divorces, and an entire profile of public records. This might be the quickest and easiest way to find someone in jail. 

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