How to Find a Person in Jail for Free

Written by S. Danilina and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

If you think that your friend or family member has been arrested, by using the Internet you can easily locate him or her in jail without any trouble. Jail is a temporary facility where people are held waiting for a court action. Thus, if you know the name, birth date or at least his/her age, you can easily find an arrested person’ location using the Internet. Jail records are considered public information and provided for free by many counties.

If you know a person’s name and birth date, the next step is to visit the jail’s website. Most of the jails are computer savvy and have a website online where you can search for inmates for free. If you know the name of a county where a person you are looking for was arrested you can just search for this county’s jail website on Google. You can also search for the arrested people’s records on The National Victim Notification Network. The National Victim Notification Network has a free online service called VINELink for crime victims. By using this service you can find the information you need within few minutes.  You just need to know the state where a person you are searching for was arrested. About 37 states, the District of Columbia included, are working fully with this service; eight additional states are providing information to some degree. If a county does not have a jail facility, their information will not be available on VINELink.

If you could find an arrested person on a jail website or by using VINELink, call the jail to double check. Inmate information is usually not updated immediately. Moreover, if a jail does not have a website, your best bet is to call the jail directly.

If you have checked all local jails and were unable to locate a person you were looking for, the next step is to check with the state prisons. You can find the state prison under ‘Department of Corrections’, such as Texas Department of Corrections. Most of prison website has an inmate - search option as well. Call the prison if you could not find the person’s name online. Perform prison search only if the person has been sentenced to a long term or have been in a jail for a long time.

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