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Locating an inmate can be a hard endeavor, especially if you live in a huge country like the United States. Whether you want to find an incarcerated loved one or conduct some research on your family history, there are many tools you can use to facilitate the process. Even though these tools have made inmate search much easier, it is still up to you to do most of the heavy lifting, such as contacting police departments and searching inmate records. If you want to successfully locate an inmate, you need to have a detailed plan to make things easier for yourself. Below are some tips you can employ to find incarcerated individuals.
Check the tips here
Determine Where the Arrest Took Place
First things first, before you delve into the sophisticated online tools you can use to locate prisoners, you need to find out where the person was arrested. Sometimes, this can be hard to find out if you do not live in the same city as the inmate. However, no need to fret because there are several means you can employ to cut some corners. If you are not sure where the arrest happened, but know where the person lived before their arrest, you can contact local police departments to inquire about the prisoner. In most cases, the arrest warrant is usually issued by the local police department operating near the prisoner’s residence. In the rare case this approach does not work, the local authorities can help you redirect your search.
Compile as Much Information as Possible
Finding out as many details as possible about the prisoner can make your search a breeze. So, if you do not know the inmate personally, you need to ask their close friends and relatives to gain more insights. Once you figure out where they were arrested, you should try to find out their full name, alias, age, and race if possible. All these details are crucial for the next steps, as they can help you filter the results you get and find the inmate in record time. Going into this blind will only hinder your search and make you lose precious time and resources. Thus, don’t rush it and take your time to compile key information.
Use State Websites
There is no better way to find an inmate than using official websites. More often than not, every state uploads its inmate records on official websites like those related to police departments, correctional facilities, and jails. To keep your search inclusive, you must first try using the state’s website to conduct a state-wide search. If this does not prove useful, you can then narrow it down to the prisoner’s city or county. Provided that you have the necessary information, these websites should be enough to help you find the inmate.
Leverage Other Inmate Locators
Unfortunately, you may sometimes find that state and county websites are not regularly updated. For this reason, your research might come to a sudden halt. Nonetheless, there are other regularly updated tools you can use to locate inmates. If you have never used any of these tools, you might fall for many scams. This is why the extensive inmate locator is a great way to search for inmates. In any case, the tool you choose must have extensive research options and filters. Furthermore, you should find one that offers unlimited access since the websites that charge money is usually operated by shady entities.
Narrow Down Your Results
After you choose your search tools, be it an official website or a third-party one, you will probably be bombarded with thousands of search results, especially if the inmate’s name is common. Unluckily, this process solely depends on trial and error, so it may take some time. If you have tried searching for the prisoner using their first, last, and middle name, try only their first and last name. In case this does not yield any results, you can try their alias or initials. When your search entry finally yields results, you can filter them by selecting the inmate’s race, gender, and age.
Try the Website of the Federal Bureau of Prisons
In general, federal prisons are more equipped to contain dangerous offenders. For this reason, inmates serving lengthy sentences or those who committed serious felonies and crimes are usually not kept in local jails, but federal prisons. If you cannot find the inmate in local jails, you should certainly give the website of the Federal Bureau of Prisons a go. The website offers extensive search filters and allows you to find inmate records that go back to 1980. To facilitate the search, you can use the inmate’s identification number if you have it. However, if this is not feasible, just using their first and last name should suffice. When you find where the inmate is held, you can then contact the prison to ascertain this information and arrange a visit if you want.
Check Out the National Archives
This step only applies if you are researching your ancestors. Most of the above websites do not have inmate records before 1970; therefore, they might not be useful for gaining more information about your ancestors. Yet, there is a great source of undigitized records in Washington: the National Archives. When you visit the National Archives, make sure to ask the record keeper to help you with your search to find what you are looking for more quickly. What’s great about this method is that you do not have to pay anything to gain access, so you essentially have nothing to lose if you choose to give it a try. This solution might not be suitable for people living in other states though, but there are similar online tools you can try. A huge advantage of these websites is that they enable you to search for old inmate records outside the United States, so they can come in handy if you are not an American citizen.
Inmate search is a long process that involves many variables, but it can be easy if you are prepared. By knowing some key details about the prisoner like their full name and age, you can narrow down your search. Also, the government offers American citizens many free tools they can leverage to locate prisoners. So, whether you are looking for an inmate that is still in custody or want to gain more insight about your ancestry, be sure to give the resources in this guide a try.