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How to Quickly Locate Your Inmate - Federal, State, County, ICE

When your spouse, family member or friend has been incarcerated, it can often be a challenge to determine the facility they have been sent to. It is so important to maintain contact with your inmate to provide them with support – emotionally and financially – and increase their chances of successful rehabilitation. Before you can support an inmate, you’ll need to determine their location.

A Starting Point

The best first step to locating your inmate is to know the system they are in. Are they in a state prison? Perhaps they have been sentenced to serve time in a federal institution? In some cases, the inmate may spend their incarceration period in the county jail. Knowing where to begin your search is extremely helpful. Here are your choices - review the different systems below - which fits your situation.

Federal Prison – Inmates who are:
•    Convicted of Federal felony-level offenses, investigated by the FBI, DEA, ICE
•    Charged with Federal felony-level offenses and awaiting trial
•    Charged and/or convicted of state felony-level offenses in Washington D.C.
State Prison – Inmates who are:
•    Charged and/or Convicted of state felony-level offenses, investigated by the County Sheriff or State Department of Law Enforcement
•    Convicted of misdemeanor-level offenses that carry sentences exceeding one to two years
Local/County Jail – Inmates who are:
•    Convicted of misdemeanor-level offenses with terms shorter than one to two years, investigated by the County Sheriff
•    Being detained before and during trial prior to transfer to a prison system 

Click here and make your selection starting with the state and then type of facility

Importance of Inmate Location

Why is it important to know how to locate your incarcerated loved one quickly? When an inmate is sentenced and transferred to a prison system from a local jail, or if it is determined that they should be transferred to a different facility within their system, you will not be automatically informed where they have been sent. And, the inmate will not be able to call you from prison to tell you about their transfer if the phone system is different from the facility they were at previously.

There are many companies that provide phone services to prisons (Securus, GlobalTel*Link, Telmate, CityTeleCoin, IC Solutions, Paytel) and they all charge the maximum allowable rate. InmateAid can help you significantly lower your inmate calling rates!

If you can quickly determine the inmate’s location, you will be able to determine the phone system used in that facility and access instructions for the inmate’s commissary account. Upon initial arrival at the new facility, your inmate won’t be able to contact you until the phone and/or commissary account is set up. He/she won’t be able to make phone calls, and can’t even send a letter without being able to purchase the items needed from the store (paper, pen, stamped envelopes, etc.)

Resources for Searching in One Place

Once you’ve determined the system in which your inmate is currently incarcerated, you can begin your search. Federal, state and county facilities differ in the ways you can locate inmates. Each one has its own identification system. Some have websites with search capabilities and some do not. InmateAid has a huge database of all the systems in one place. It might be the only website on the internet that does. Click the link above.

When an inmate is incarcerated within the Federal prison system, you can find them here. In order to search for them, you will need their name and/or their Bureau of Prisons (BOP) identification number.

If your inmate is in the state prison system or department of corrections, there are separate websites for each state. InmateAid has all of this public information available here. The State Prison system uses a state ID number for identification, rather than a BOP number. You can locate an inmate using the name and location (state).

Local County Jails can be the most challenging of all. Depending upon the size of the county, they may or may not even have a website for inmate searches. If there is no "county jail website", InmateAid definitely has it here for you, with all of the most recently collected data. We have the phone number and if you have immediate concerns, you can call the facility directly and get inmate information, too. 

Keeping in touch with your incarcerated loved one is so important. Being informed about how to locate them quickly is vital to keep your connection and to help support them through their time away. We hope that this article helps to make this process less complicated for you.