How to Obtain Inmate Information

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Information about current and former inmates of prisons takes different forms. These include court records, inmate records and various registries, such as for convicted sex offenders. Much of where you can find this information depends on where the inmate was arrested and convicted of their crime, and whether that inmate was incarcerated in a county, state or federal facility. While much information is available online, much can only be obtained in person at various judicial locations, such as courthouses and halls of records.

First, amass all the information you know about the inmate. This includes their full name, aliases, date of birth, the date and place of their arrest, the date and place of their conviction, whether they were convicted on a state or federal crime, and, if they are currently incarcerated, their last known place of incarceration. These facts will be critical for helping you locate additional information about the inmate.

If the inmate is housed in a federal facility, much of their information will available from the federal Bureau of Prisons. Visit their website at This will allow you to search by name or by the inmates' registration number. It will provide you the inmate's full name, age, current location, registration number and their release date.

For inmate residing in certain state and county prisons, various records are similarly available on the internet. (New York state, for instance, allows you to look up inmate information 24 hours a day.) Using what you know of where the inmate was arrested and convicted, visit the appropriate websites and perform searches through their systems using different criteria, such as name, age, sex, race and the date of conviction. A list of these websites is available at

However, many of these local areas have not yet placed their records online, meaning that this information can only be obtained by calling or visiting judicial or correctional facilities, such as courthouses, jails and state prisons. Either look up rules regarding the release of these records online, or call these facilities to request information about their policies.


  • Due to the Freedom of Information Act, most inmate information is available for public examination. However, some information is easier to access than others. In certain cases, written petitions may need to be filed in order to allow for the records to be released. In this case, consider consulting an attorney or other professional versed in the obtaining of semi-classified records.
  • For additional information about sex offenders, consult either the national registry of sex offenders (at or any of a number of state registries.



About the Author

Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.