Navigating through gigabytes of online data is a daunting task in itself. But the challenge becomes more acute if you want information about someone who has no family or has been languishing in jail for years.

Fortunately, in today’s digitized world, searching for inmate-related information is much easier. Several online databases can help you with your inmate search. However, when you have very little information about an inmate, the chances of getting false positive results are high. So a thorough search is necessary to get accurate and relevant information.

Navigating Large Databases To Search For An Inmate


Gather All The Information That You Can

A thorough search is possible only if you have a lot of information, to begin with. So try collecting as much information as possible. Before you even start looking in a database, you must have tried to gather the following information about an inmate.

  • The name of the person. It is fine if you have the first and the last name, but if you can, try finding out the nickname and middle name as well.
  • Details about the inmate’s appearance. Many publicly available databases have photographs of the inmate. So if you have information about the skin tone, hair color, the color of a person’s eye etc., it can help narrow down to the person of interest. A person’s appearance might change with age, but factors like skin tone and eye color remain the same. So you can reliably use such details to refine your search.
  • The age of the inmate.
  • The usual place of residence.
  • Past criminal history ( past arrests, convictions, bails etc.).
  • Name of the place where the crime was committed.

Find Out About The Cause Of Arrest


The crime for which a person has been arrested is crucial in narrowing your search. Not all people who have committed a crime are put in jail. Usually, if someone has committed a crime that merits a short sentence, he will be in prison and not jail.

However, if someone has committed a serious offense that merits a longer sentence ( greater than one year), he will most likely be in jail. If someone is in prison and you search the databases of jail inmates, you will be trapped in a futile cycle. You can contact the inmate’s relatives or the local police department, which has access to the warrant to know about the nature of the crime.

If you can get in touch with the officer who made the arrest, you can get hold of a lot of information. The person who made the arrest will know about the nature of the offense and the site of occurrence. Moreover, he may also remember some details about the physical features or the name of the person he arrested.

Narrow Down On The Jail Where A Person May Be Held

A person who is likely to get a jail sentence may be in the jail of his home state or any other state. If the person has been arrested recently or is still awaiting trial, he will likely be in jail in his home state.

If a person has already been sentenced to a prison term and has been serving a sentence for a while, he may be in any jail in the country. Prison inmates sentenced for a long period are routinely transferred to other jails.

In most cases, jail transfers happen if the person has been trying to escape or if there is a threat to his life. So if you are searching for someone serving a long sentence, try looking up the national databases.

Use Multiple Search Tools


When you have very little information about an inmate, you should use multiple search tools. Check out the following databases when searching for an inmate

  • Website of the police department
  • Website of the county sheriff
  • Private third-party databases that compile information from government resources
  • Website of the local municipal court

Try Calling The County Jail

If repeated efforts at locating an inmate are not giving any results, you can directly call the country jail. Most jail authorities will give you the information you need if you are not asking for anything illegal.

Alternatively, if you wish to verify the result of an online search, you may call the country jail. For instance, an online search shows results where some details of an inmate match your person of interest. In such cases, you can always verify if you have found the right person by calling the jail authorities.

Try Avoiding Outdated Databases


At times you may be wasting your time and effort in searching an outdated database. So if the results that show up contain results that are at least four or five years old, then you need to switch the database.

An inmate may be transferred, or he may be released from prison in a period of five years. So every time you start searching, ensure that the database is up to date. A lag of a week or two is natural, but if the information has not been updated for a while, you may be wasting your time.

Have Patience When You Search

Searching for an inmate when you have very little information can be tough. However, try to be patient and exhaust all the resources instead of giving up after a few cursory searches. There is no shortcut when it comes to inmate search; unfortunately, it is a matter of trial and error.


If you are determined to find authentic information about an inmate, there are a plethora of resources. Most of the data is available online and open to the public. However, if an online search does not give the desired results, you can always call up the jail authorities or visit local police stations or the local jail authorities.