How to Find the Release Date for a Prisoner

By Jayne Thompson - Updated December 09, 2018
Woman using a laptop computer at a desk

The easiest way to find a prisoner's release date is to register with the Victim Information and Notification Everyday network, or VINE. This automated service provides up-to-date information about the location and release dates of offenders across 48 states. Alternatively, find a prisoner's release date by calling the facility where the prisoner is being held.

Register With VINE

Register for VINE notifications by visiting the website www.vinelink.com and following the on-screen instructions. In most states, anyone can register for VINE notifications including victims, their families and any other interested person. Registration is free and confidential and your information will not be released to the prisoner.

Select the Offender

After registering with VINE, you'll be asked to select the prisoner about whom you wish to receive notifications. Input the inmate's name and state and see if that locates the offender. Specific information such as the prisoner's former address, date of birth or age range, facility name, prison number, case number and court location may be needed to track down a prisoner with a common name. Use the toll-free number listed on the website for help registering for notifications or locating an offender.

Select The Notification Method

VINE notifications differ by location but generally, you can elect to receive automated notifications by telephone, text message, post or email. The system notifies you whenever a trigger event occurs, such as when the prisoner transfers to a different facility, escapes or is released. When you have completed your registration through VINE, you are notified a certain period of time before the offender's scheduled release. The precise period differs between jurisdictions – California, for example, will send an automated notification 90 days before the prisoner's scheduled release.

Limitations of VINE

VINE is currently available in every state except Maine and South Dakota. Maine has its own searchable database located at the Department of Corrections' website maine.gov/corrections. A search returns driver's license information as well as details of the offense, probation conditions and the prisoner's release date. In South Dakota, you can use the state's online tool to locate a prisoner (see Resources), then call the facility to ask about the release date. VINE does not provide information about prisoners incarcerated by the United States federal government. To find the release date of a federal prisoner, locate the prisoner using the Federal Bureau of Prisons' online inmate locator (see Resources), then review the information to see if a release date has been posted. If not, call the facility.

About the Author

Jayne Thompson earned an LLB in Law and Business Administration from the University of Birmingham and an LLM in International Law from the University of East London. She practiced in various “big law” firms before launching a career as a commercial writer. Her work has appeared on numerous legal blogs including Quittance, Upcounsel and Medical Negligence Experts. Find her at www.whiterosecopywriting.com.

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