What is an Inmate Finder?

Misty Amber Brighton

An inmate finder is a program used to find out where or if an individual is incarcerated in a jail or prison. These programs work via the Internet, public documents at a local courthouse, or by inquiring in person. The amount of information available varies from one location to the next, but normally includes the prisoner's name, charges, date of sentencing, and when he is eligible for parole. Most of the time, this information can be obtained free of charge.

Whether and where an inmate is imprisoned can be learned through an inmate finder.
Whether and where an inmate is imprisoned can be learned through an inmate finder.

Members of the public may want to know whether a person is serving time for an offense. They can do this by searching for the offender's name, case number, or department of corrections identification number. When this information is entered into a program that acts as an inmate finder, the results are usually displayed almost instantaneously. Many state and local governments operate websites with a program such as this for private citizens to use.

The amount of facts available about an incarcerated person can vary from one inmate finder to the next.
The amount of facts available about an incarcerated person can vary from one inmate finder to the next.

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Local police stations and county jails may have their own inmate finder systems. This is especially true in jurisdictions that are extremely populated. In this case, it may not be possible to obtain this information remotely. Most agencies consider certain data about an offender to be a matter of public record. This means individuals who want to search for an inmate can normally do so by making a personal visit to the jail and asking a records clerk for information.

The amount of facts available about an incarcerated person can vary from one inmate finder to the next. Most systems provide information such as the offender's name, date incarcerated, what charges he faced, and when he might be paroled or released. Some more detailed programs may include a picture of the prisoner along with his official corrections number, address, and an overview of the crime.

Beyond the basics, the finder service may not provide other information. An inmate finder does not generally give information such as the prisoner's next of kin, work history, or criminal background. People who are interested in obtaining parole records may not be able to do so by using one of these programs. This information may often be obtained via other means, such as requesting a subpoena or performing a formal criminal background check.

Most inmate finders are easy to use, even for those who do not have experience with using computers or conducting investigations. The results are normally accurate and up-to-date. This can make using one of these programs a good idea for both professional and amateur sleuths.

Some counties upload public records and post online the names of jail inmates who are in their custody.
Some counties upload public records and post online the names of jail inmates who are in their custody.

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