The best way to search for inmates for free is www.vinelink.com. Just click on the state where you want to search. You can search by their inmate ID number or by first and last name. Optional fields to narrow down the search results are date of birth or age range.
When you find who you are looking for, you will see their inmate/offender ID, date of birth (DOB), race, gender, custody status, location, and scheduled release date. Victims or anyone else interested in the status of an inmate can register to be notified when the inmate is released or transferred. Notification is done by phone or e-mail.
One item to note about Vinelink is that it does not provide information on federal prisons, just local jails and state prisons. Vinelink is updated every day.
The best way to locate information on a federal prisoner for free is to go to the Bureau of Federal Prisons website at www.bop.gov. Go to the inmate locator tab. You can search by inmate number or name. A list of results will appear with the inmates' names, ID number, age, sex, race, and release date or prison location. You can click on the prison location and it will take you to that prison's website where you can find all the details on that prison.
Of course, if you know what jail or prison the inmate is located, you can pull up its website and do a search. At least then you will know whether the offender is still in custody or released. Not all jails or prisons may have this information online. In that case, simply call the jail or prison and ask them to provide the inmate's status.
Vinelink and the BOP website are the two best free websites as their information is constantly updated and contain the most information on an inmate as well as access to prisoner information nationwide.
Another great free website is www.inmatesplus.com. Click on the state where you want to search and then two options appear. One option is a search for the state prison. The second option is to search by county jail. Inmatesplus.com is updated daily.