Gather the inmate's full legal name. If necessary, some search engines will allow a search which includes aliases.
Determine where the inmate is housed. A person picked up for a simple DUI can be found in a local jail, provided he hasn't posted bail. Alternatively, someone who has been handed a sentence for arson or burglary is housed in a state penitentiary. Since there is no public database able to provide a sweeping search through the prison population of every state, it is important to know which state to search. Federal inmates on the other hand, are listed in one search engine.
Find the appropriate database. Local inmates might be found at a city or county jail. Only the jails of larger cities or counties may have online search engines. Provided one cannot be found through a simple online search, it might be necessary to contact local law enforcement for help. If the inmate in question is housed at a state penitentiary, then a visit to that state's Department of Corrections should provide a link to any inmate locator search engine they have. Inmates incarcerated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons can be found through their websites inmate locator.
Enter as much information as possible into the inmate locator search engine. At a minimum, a last name is required, though for some, both a first and last name are needed. Advanced search options often allow for the inputting of demographics like race, sex, age or height. If an ID number is known, this also often an option. As a general rule, the less entered, the broader the search results returned. This makes it necessary to have more information concerning inmates with common names or other attributes.
Select the appropriate inmate for detailed information. When available, information concerning the inmate's place of incarceration, crimes, court dates and release are displayed. For more on how to contact, send money or visit anyone housed at a prison facility, visit the prison's website directly.
- prison image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com