Many state correctional facilities offer inmate population information to the general public. This information includes the name of the offender, whether currently imprisoned or recently released, any known aliases and his offenses. In addition, corresponding sentence and a host of other demographics, such as race, height, weight, hair and eye color, may be included. Whatever kind of information you are seeking, including a picture of a previous inmate, a search through the corrections database is required.
Determine which state the individual was incarcerated in. Any inmate population search will have to take place through a state's database, and if you don't know where to begin you will have to do a 50 state search. If you don't know where to start, begin with last known residences and fan out from there. Consider neighboring states, especially if the last known residence is in a smaller region. For example, if the individual is a resident of Massachusetts, it would be wise to begin there, before fanning out to Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Vermont and New York for further investigation.
Gather as much information as you can about the inmate, such as his given name and date of birth. Height, weight, hair color and eye color can aid in the search, especially if his name is a common one. Even if you're only able to gather approximate information you can still proceed with your search.
Access the prison inmate locator website for the appropriate state. Ancestor Hunt provides a link to the inmate locator databases for each state. Once at the appropriate state's site, enter as much information as you can. What is required of you in the input fields will vary by state. New York, for example, provides slots for the inputting of first and last name, a birth year (which is optional) and departmental information, if known. Florida, on the other hand, provides much more extensive searches, with fields for first and last name, height, weight and age ranges, hair color, race, sex and even identifiers like a driver's license or social security number.