Once someone is in the court system and sent to jail, the reasons behind the incarceration are public record. Meaning, you can find out why they went to jail with a quick search. Many counties and states have searchable online databases. Employees of the correctional institution are also allowed to tell you over the phone.
Call the jail or prison. Give the inmate's name and ask for the charges that landed them in jail. The employee is allowed to tell you why the inmates are behind bars.
Go to the state Department of Corrections or county jail's inmate look-up system. The federal government also has one through the Federal Bureau of Prisons. New York State and its counties, for example, have online databases searchable from any computer. There are also independent websites that offer inmate look-up services for free.
Use a state database to look up inmates who are in state prison. Use a county or local system for jails. VINE Link, the online version of the National Victim Notification Network called "Victim Information and Notification Everyday" provides information on criminal cases and offenders' custody status across the country.
Enter the last name of the inmate, or choose a letter to look under.
Scroll through the inmates until you find the one you're inquiring about. Next to the name is the person's age, cell, offense, court, court date, arresting agency, bond amount, and bail remarks. Many sites also have a photograph of the person.
Click on the person's name. Another page will open displaying more information such as their race, gender, and birth date. The charges will be listed, along with visitation information.