Did you lose contact with your loved one? Did you just find out that they moved prisons and they cannot tell you any further information? If so, we have all been there at least once. It is a trying time. No one is helping. All you are doing is on the phone listening to terrible hold music.
How can they lose an inmate? That is what you keep thinking to yourself. How in the world did they lose my loved one? Of course, this is just my luck. Sitting here on hold only to be told that they have no record of my John Doe. Or asking for their inmate number and not knowing it, so they cannot help me.
What if I told you finding your loved one is a little bit easier than you think? What if I said it only really takes a little search to find everything you need to know about where your loved one is and how you can get ahold of them? That would make your life so much easier, right? Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret.
What is The Federal Inmate Locator?
The federal inmate locator is the database for finding inmates who are in federal prisons. This can be confused with inmates in state prisons. These are two very different sections.
What’s the Difference Between Federal & State Prisons?
This is where it gets tricky. Many families do not know that there is a difference between federal and state prisons. Federal prisons are operated under Federal Bureau of Prisons (fbop), while the state prisons are run by the state.
It is vital that you know if your loved one is in a federal prison or the state prison. If you don’t have this information, you will be searching at least two different databases. You could possibly search more if your loved one got moved out of the state, so just keep that in the back of your mind while doing your search.
Where Can I Locate A Federal Prison Inmate?
If your loved one is in a federal prison, you will want to check the Federal Bureau of Prisons. You can then search by their name, age, gender, race, or their BOP register number. It is as easy as that!
Where Can I Locate A State Prison Inmate?
If you couldn’t find your loved one in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, then they are in a state prison. This is where you may be checking a lot of databases. Each state has their own database. You will need the same information as if you were searching for a federal inmate. So you will need their name, age, gender, and race.
If you don’t know if they got moved out of state for some reason, we highly recommend you start by searching the department of corrections database of where they lived before they went to prison. That should help you locate them easier than looking through every state.
My Loved One Just Recently Went to Prison, Can I Find Them Too?
If your loved one got whisked away to prison recently and you do not know which prison they got put in, you can certainly find them using our search handy-dandy function.
However, keep in mind, that federal and state databases do not always update right away, so it may take a day or two for your loved one to be put into the database before you are able to locate them.
My Loved One is Not in State or Federal Prison. What Can I Do?
Couldn’t find your inmate in either databases? This could either be that they are not updated yet, or this could mean your loved one is sitting in a county or city jail.
If your loved one just went off to prison, I would recommend calling the department of corrections.
If you are now sure they are in a county or city jail, this is a completely different search than it would be for state or federal prison. You can either try and search for your city or county inmate search to bring up your local inmates.
A lot of cities and counties currently still do not have their own offender search you can do online. If your county is like that, you will have to make a few phone calls to all of your county’s prisons.
Tips & Tricks for A Successful State and Federal Inmate Search
We know all you care about in this moment is finding your loved one as fast as possible. We want you to have a successful search, whether they are in federal or state prison.
If your loved one just got whisked away to prison, you may not be able to locate them right away in the department of correction database. Databases usually update between every 24 hours to every few days. If you know for certain, they are in a state prison, and you just don’t know exactly which one, you may have to wait a few days before they update their database to put him or her in it.
However, if you know what prison they are being sent to, but you want more information on that prison or what the protocol for visitation, telephoning, and mail, we highly suggest you give the prison a call or email them. They will be able to help you without you having to wait for your loved one to be put in the database.
Have Information Handy for Prisoner Lookup
One thing we cannot stress enough is have all the information about your loved one handy. If you are searching for an inmate on someone’s behalf get as much information as possible. This will make your search time shorter.
The main information you should have is:
- Date of Birth
However, if you know their booking date, that would help. If you know their inmate number, that would be delightful, just in case you need to phone the department of corrections.
We always say the more information you have on a person the better; however, if you cannot find your loved one, suggest you try it with various information that you have on hand.
The database is run by humans! There may be mistakes from time to time, so if you put in all the information and you couldn’t locate them; try less information. Do not give up, until you see your loved one’s profile with a picture!
I Have Located Them! Now What?
First and foremost, congrats on finding your loved one. We know how hard it can be to not know where your loved one is or be able to communicate with them. We know a lot of prisons tend to cut off their inmate’s ties to the outside world. You are one step closer to being able to finally be at peace and hopefully be able to communicate with them shortly.
Now you have all the information you’ll need such as visitation, how phone calls work, and how and where to send them mail. Take that information and use it to your advantage to get the most of their time in prison.
If you want to take advantage of a very useful tool to help you always be in the know where your loved one is, even if they are getting transferred to a different prison. You certainly want to utilize VINE. VINE is a victim notification system. You will get alerts on your loved one’s status. Whether they are getting moved to a new prison or if they are being released from prison. You can set it up for either email. Telephone calls, or text messages.