How Do I Find Out if Someone is Incarcerated?

find an incarcerated
By Ben Hartwig
02 January, 2019

Incarceration means that someone is currently in a local jail or state or federal prison. It may come to pass that at some point you’re trying to determine whether someone you know is currently incarcerated. Perhaps your attempts at reaching out to them have gone unanswered and you know they may be in trouble, or maybe you’re trying to determine if someone of interest in your life is still incarcerated from a conviction in the past.

What Are the Methods to Research Incarcerations?

The oldest method in the books on determining whether someone is currently incarcerated is by visiting the local jail or prison. You can call them directly or they typically have an inmate lookup on their website. The problem is that you must conduct this type of search at every possible facility the person could be incarcerated at. There are literally thousands of jails and prisons across the country, so searching this way isn’t the best necessarily.

Even if you decide to conduct your own online search, you will need to scan databases for both the local/state government sites as well as the federal sites. None of these facilities share records, so you must search each one individually to ensure you’re covering all your bases, so to speak.

The best way to search for a current inmate is to utilize online databases that contain both public and private sources of information. Infotracer offers such a service, and it’s quite user-friendly and hassle-free. All you need to do is search for a person’s name and any inmate records in their past will show up.

Conducting an Inmate Search

The only information you need to conduct a comprehensive background search is a full name, phone number, email or address. You can also limit the search to a state or city if your information is that detailed. Results will be generated almost instantly, and provide a complete criminal history that includes incarceration information.

The criminal records section of a background check at Infotracer includes arrests, warrants, convictions, and even inmate information for any time served in a facility.

Many government websites will also offer the ability to search for current inmates within the local and state system. The federal prison system also provides an online search engine for anyone incarcerated within their facilities.

However, searching only government sites won’t give you details about the person’s other records, such as social media profiles, contact information, court records, property records, and vital record information.

What Information Can I Learn?

When you search for someone to find out if they are incarcerated, a plethora of information is included with your records. Inmate records will typically include the following:

  • Location of incarceration
  • Date of booking and expected date of release
  • Date of probation hearing, if any
  • Conviction and sentencing details
  • Court records related to the criminal case
  • Mugshots
  • Physical description
  • Disposition of case

Why Would I Conduct a Search?

Most people try to determine if someone they know is incarcerated because they can’t locate them, or they have reason to believe the subject of their search may be in prison because of the lifestyle they were leading previously. Sometimes you may simply be curious about what the current status is of someone who used to be part of your life is. Or, perhaps you’re wondering why someone simply seemed to disappear without warning; it may also be the case that you’re trying to determine whether a rumor you’ve heard is correct.

Criminal Court Records

Court records connected to any convictions on an inmate’s record can detail dates of hearings, whether the defendant pleaded guilty or not guilty, and even transcripts of the proceedings. Other times, information about the evidence, depositions, and even witness statements and testimony are even outlined in these documents.

Criminal court records will also tell you when future hearings are scheduled for an inmate, or whether they will be up for a parole hearing soon.

Searching for someone who is incarcerated is far easier today than it was just a few years ago. If you conduct a nationwide search you’ll find much more information than simply visiting your nearest jail or prison on the Internet, and many more details about their case and disposition are also available. The short story here is that searching a multitude of databases from one website is far more thorough than trying to track down an inmate or former inmate through local records found online.

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