How to find out an inmate's prison status

Written by misty s. bledsoe
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How to find out an inmate's prison status
Most prison facilities have ways for you look up an inmate's status. (prison 2 image by Nathalie P from Fotolia.com)

Learning the current status of an inmate can help be helpful when you are watching for potential release dates or when you're trying to locate an inmate. Prison facilities in the United States offer either an inmate locator function on their individual websites or the ability to contact the prison via phone or fax and have a person look up the inmate's current status. Some prison facilities will let you sign up on their website for an "inmate watch," which will give you updates on the inmate status or notify you of an upcoming pending release.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Phone
  • Internet access -- optional
  • Inmate ID number -- optional
  • Pen
  • Paper

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Locate the inmate's ID number. Sometimes this number is also called a "CDC" number. It may include letters, dashes or may be numbers only. This will make finding the current status the fastest but is not a requirement to perform the search.

  2. 2

    Write down the inmate's ID number. If you do not have it, write down the inmate's name, sex and birthday, if you know them. Note whether the inmate has a middle initial.

  3. 3

    Log onto the Internet and find the website to the prison facility the inmate is in. Navigate the website until you find "Offender Information," "Inmate Locator" or "Inmate/Offender Watch." Fill in any applicable forms with the information you wrote down and press "Submit" or "Search."

  4. 4

    Call the prison facility where the inmate is and ask for the department that provides inmate status information. Provide the representative with the inmate ID number or the rest of the information you wrote down. Write down the inmate status when the representative gives it to you.

Tips and warnings

  • If you know an inmate is being transferred from one prison to another, allow two to four weeks for processing times. The original prison facility may not keep forwarding information for the inmate, and it can take that long for the new prison facility to register the inmate. Inmates may have a different identification number once transferred to the new facility.
  • Not all prison institutions have online databases that help you search for the current status of the inmate. This may be the case if the prison facility is privately owned. Furthermore, inmates sometimes are moved quickly and often without notice. This is especially true for bed and cell assignments.

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