How to Find If Someone Is in Jail in California

By Michelle Nati - Updated July 26, 2018
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When police make an arrest in the state of California, finding out if someone is in jail may seem daunting to a concerned friend or family member. However, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has made it easy and relatively stress-free to locate an inmate using its online portal, a phone or fax machine and a small amount of information.

Tip

To find someone who has been jailed in California, use the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's online Inmate Locator. You can also access an offender's information by phone or fax at the Department's Identification Unit.

How to Find a Person in Jail in California

Information regarding an inmate isn't immediately available after an arrest. If an offender in California has recently entered the state prison system or is between prisons, her information may take up to seven business days to process. To find someone in a California jail, use the CDCR's online portal and its Identification Unit.

How to Use the CDCR Inmate Locator Portal

To find a person in jail in California using the CDCR's website, click the button which reads "Locate Inmate" which launches a disclaimer. Press "Agree" at the bottom of the screen to go to the following page. There, add the offender's personal information.

To add known details about an inmate, use the fields provided. An inmate number, or the last name of the offender, is required. First and middle names are optional, but if you have them, they will help narrow your search. When you have entered the necessary information, click the "Search" button.

If your friend or family member is an inmate, the offender's name will show up on the next screen. Click on the inmate's name to find information regarding incarceration including inmate number, age, admission date, location and parole details, if applicable. The search will yield only information on adult inmates currently in custody. Some offender information is limited for safety and security reasons. If you cannot find an inmate online, contact CDCR's Identification Unit by phone.

Before traveling to any prison or jail, contact the institution for inmate visiting schedules and information.

How to Locate an Inmate by Phone or Fax

To locate someone in California by phone, call the CDCR's Identification Unit at (916) 445-6713 and provide the inmate's full name, the month, day and year of birth, or CDCR identification number.

The Identification Unit will provide only the inmate's current location and identification number to the caller and has no information on the offender's release date.

The Identification Unit takes phone calls Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. During state holidays, the office is closed. The Identification Unit also welcomes inquiries by fax at (916) 358-4099.

About the Author

Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.

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