When someone is incarcerated in Texas, they receive a TDCJ number through the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. This allows people to track inmates housed in the jails and prisons run by this state agency. All inmates have this number, and everyone from relatives to state officials can follow their journey in the system through the TDCJ website, which is updated frequently.
Locating a TDCJ Inmate
The TDCJ lists inmates currently incarcerated in state or county jails on its website. They are easy to find with at least one of three pieces of information:
- Offender's last name with at least the first initial of their first name.
- Offender's TDCJ number.
- Offender's state identification (SID) number.
When searching by name, the system looks for an exact match of that name, so spelling the inmate's name correctly is of the utmost importance. Those without access to the internet can locate an inmate by calling the TDCJ at 936-295-6371 or 800-535-0283, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone requests require the inmate's exact date of birth if their TDCJ or SID number is unknown.
Perform an Inmate Search
When searching for an inmate, go to the TDCJ website. Under the Home menu click Online Services and scroll down to the Inmate Information page. This will direct the user to the Offender Information Search homepage. Users must then enter the information they know about the inmate into the fields provided and click Search.
If the inmate is in a TDCJ facility, users will have access to their housing information, charges and days of visitation. The information on the TDCJ website is always at least 24 hours old. Due to this, the agency recommends that a person picking up an offender should call the facility before leaving to make sure there are no changes to that inmate's status.
Unsuccessful Search for Inmate Information
If an inmate doesn't come up in the system, it may mean that there hasn't been a recent update, in which case the user should wait 24 hours and try again. In the event of an offender's release, that person will not show up in the system. The inmate may also be in a different facility. In that case, someone searching for an offender needs to contact the specific jail or prison directly.
If the offender is in a federal facility, users should contact the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which has its own inmate locator or call 202-307‑3198. Other states also have inmate locators, and links to these are on the TDCJ website under Related Links. For city jails and other law enforcement entities, additional information is listed on the TDCJ website, and for inmates in county jails, users can contact the appropriate county via the Texas Association of Counties.
For further questions and concerns, those searching for an inmate can contact the TDCJ by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For technical difficulties with the website, they can reach the TDCJ at email@example.com and explain their problem, at which point the webmaster will address it as quickly as possible.
- Texas Association of Counties: Texas County Websites
- Federal Bureau of Prisons: Federal Inmates
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice: Related Links
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice: Offender Information Search
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice: Inmate Information
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice: Homepage
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.