If you want to find information on a deceased inmate, you may not know where to begin. If you know the facility in which the inmate was held, that is a good place to start. The more information you have about your inmate, such as his name or date of birth, the better. The government keeps public records of inmates and you may also be able to find out information related to the inmate's death through the medical examiner's office that handled his body.
Contact the Prison or Jail
Call or visit the facility where the inmate was incarcerated to see if officials can provide you with any information on his death. If he died while in prison or jail, the facility should be able to help point you toward the government agency that can help you find more information. Be prepared to provide as much information about your inmate as you can.
You may be asked for his inmate identification number. If you don't have it, prison or jail officials can help you find it if you can provide his full name and approximate date of birth.
Use Online Search Tools
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has records for inmates held in federal prisons from 1982 to the present. You can use its Inmate Locator Tool online using the inmate's number or his name. To search online by name, you must have his first and last name. His middle name, age, race and sex are optional, but the more information you can provide, the better results you will get.
If the inmate is known to be deceased, it will be noted in his search result.
Read More: How to Search Arrest Records Online
Call the Medical Examiner's Office
Contact the medical examiner's office in the county in which your inmate died for more information about his cause and manner of death. If an autopsy was performed, you can request a copy of the medical examiner's report. The medical examiner's office may also have information on where your inmate's remains were interred or if they were cremated.
The county's clerk-recorder should have a copy of his death certificate on file and you can request a copy of that as well. The death certificate should include his date of birth, which can be helpful in searching prison or jail records.
Prison Death Notification Policies
Death notification policies vary among state departments. Some states, including Florida, New York and Texas, have a policy of informing the deceased's family as soon a death occurs in prison, and the prison chaplain delivers the news. Other states make reasonable efforts to contact relatives via a phone call, letter or telegram. Bear in mind that only the next of kin and/or the closest family members will be notified, not other relatives and friends. If the death occurs in suspicious circumstances, the information may be limited while the situation is investigated.
Talia Kennedy has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in "The New York Times," "San Francisco Chronicle" and "The Sacramento Bee," among others. Kennedy has a master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.