Finding out whether someone is in jail is extremely easy — nearly every state has a public, searchable database you can use to find people.
How do I find out if someone is in jail?
Almost all of the various agencies responsible for inmates in the United States have online databases. You can access and search these on the Web. This page provides links to these databases and information on how to find more local information such as city and county jail inmates.
What does this information mean?
On many of these sites, you will encounter disclaimer pages. It is important to understand what kind of information you are accessing. The appearance of a person’s name in one of these databases does not mean they have been convicted of a crime. In addition to convicted inmates, many of these database also contain information regarding individuals who are being housed while awaiting trial. These individuals are innocent until proven guilty.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons houses persons convicted of violating Federal laws and some who are alleged violators and are awaiting trial. The BOP Inmate Locator lets you search the database online.
Almost every state has a database online for searching inmate and offender information. Only Maine and South Dakota do not provide this information line. South Dakota’s site states that there are a number of statutes preventing the publication of this information. In both of these cases you can contact the agency directly to obtain information.
Most states host their own databases on their sites. Others contract VINE Link. If you can’t find information on a state’s D.O.C. site, try VINE.
In addition to inmates with each State Department of Corrections, cities and counties often have their own separate databases for their local facilities. For example, there’s the NYC Department of Corrections Inmate Search and the Polk County Iowa Inmates Online page.
There are so many cities and counties in the United States that listing all their sites on this page would be impractical. Fortunately it’s easy to locate these sites with Google. Try searching for “[your city/county] inmate search”, e.g. “dutchess county new york inmate search” or “los angeles inmate search”.
Look for the official city/county sites in the search results. Often these sites are hosted under the .gov or .us top level domain.