Prisons and Prisoners

Find the answers to the most commonly asked questions about prisons, jails, and inmates.

Locate a Federal Inmate

To locate someone who is currently in custody or incarcerated in a federal prison, or has been anytime since 1982, visit the Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate locator. You can look up inmates in two ways: 

  • First and last name (required) and middle name, age, race, and sex (optional) 
  • Inmate number from the: 
    • Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Register 
    • D.C. Department of Corrections (DCDC)
    • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
    • Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) 

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Locate a Person Held for an Immigration Violation

You can locate someone who is currently detained for possible violation of immigration laws or who was released within the last 60 days, by using the  Online Detainee Locator System or by getting in touch with one of the field offices of the Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).  

If you know which facility the person is being held, call that immigration detention facility directly.  

For information or matters pertaining to the status of a particular court case, contact the Immigration Court.  

If you're looking for a person held in a federal prison for a reason not related to illegal immigration, use the prisoner locator run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  

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Visit a Federal Inmate

Each prison sets its own visiting hours. By law, an inmate gets at least four hours of visiting time per month. If you have a question about a particular prison, contact that facility directly. Review information on visiting a federal inmate to ensure your visit is a success.

For further information, please contact the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

State or local correctional systems may have different procedures for visiting an inmate.

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Send Money to an Inmate

Federal Correctional Facilities

Inmates held at a Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility have bank-type accounts called commissary accounts that they can use to purchase items. You can deposit money into a federal inmate's account by one of the following three funding methods:

  1. MoneyGram (electronically)
  2. Western Union (electronically)
  3. United States Postal Service (money order through the mail)

If the inmate is at a private contract facility, please contact that facility or contract operator for instructions on how to send funds.

State and Local Correctional Facilities

Options for sending money to inmates in state and local prisons vary. Please contact the appropriate state or local correctional department for more information.

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Prison Records

Federal Prison Records

Federal prison records are available in several locations:

If you have been unable to find the information you seek, you may need to submit an online Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

State and Local Prison Records
Contact a state or local corrections department.

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Federal Bureau of Prisons

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is the agency in charge of ensuring federal correctional facilities are safe, humane, cost-efficient, and appropriately secure. They are responsible for more than 200,000 inmates and nearly 40,000 employees.

In addition to maintaining the federal correctional facilities, the BOP provides resources for:

  • Victims and witnesses
  • Employees
  • Health management
  • Ex-offenders
  • Media representatives

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Complaints about Federal, State, and Local Correctional Facilities

Local, County, or State Correctional Facilities

Follow the process below to file a complaint about local, county, or state correctional facilities. This includes complaints about a particular facility, policy, or procedure, or allegations of abuse.

  • File a formal complaint directly with the facility in question.
  • Contact the appropriate Department of Corrections office if the issue remains unresolved.
  • Contact your governor.

Federal Correctional Facilities

Follow the process below to file a complaint about Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities. This includes complaints about a particular facility, policy, or procedure, or allegations of abuse.

Give the complaint a reasonable amount of time to progress before going on to the next step. Qualified legal advice, as always, remains an option.

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