How to Conduct a Federal Prison Inmate Search

federal inmate search


Finding an inmate in the federal system can be daunting, because federal inmates can be moved to meet changing facility demands, and, because of security concerns, these moves are not shared with inmates or their families ahead of time.  In this article, we give you tips on how to conduct a federal institution inmate search.  These searches can: help family members and loved ones keep track of incarcerated loved ones; run a federal prison cellmate search; and even victims keep tabs on the location of perpetrators.

The Bureau of Prisons is responsible for managing Federal inmates.  Only people who have been convicted of Federal laws or are awaiting trial for violating federal laws are sent to Federal prisons.  Therefore, a United States federal prison inmate search will only find inmates in the federal system; inmates facing state or local charges will be in the appropriate state or local system.  However, a federal prison inmate case search will find federal prisoners even if they are not located in federal prisons; a federal prison inmate inquiry is not looking at location to determine whether an inmate is a federal inmate, but whether the inmate was convicted of a federal crime or is facing federal charges.  This should not be confused with a Federal Bureau of Investigation inmate search; the FBI runs the Criminal Justice Information Service, which provides crime information that is very different from the BOP’s inmate tracker information.  Therefore, it is clear that a BOP inmate search is not identical to a federal institution inmate search.

Once a defendant is convicted in the federal system, the Bureau of Prisons has the sole responsibility of determining where an offender will serve his sentence.  They do so based on the factors outlined in the Security and Custody Classification Manual.  These factors include: security level, supervision level, medical classification care level, an inmate’s programming needs, and administrative factors.  Taking all of those things into consideration, the Bureau of Prisons will attempt to place inmates within a 500-mile radius of their release residence, but this is not always possible.  Generally, when inmates are placed further than 500 miles from their release facility, it is due to programming, security, or population concerns.  Therefore, where an offender was arrested is not predictive of where a defendant will be incarcerated.

Prison programming can be a very important part of prison.  Currently, federal prisoner recidivism rates are significantly lower than the recidivism rates in many states, due, in part, to federal prison programs.  Some programs target certain types of offenders, while others are intended to reduce idleness and prevent all offenders from offending while incarcerated.  For example, inmates incarcerated in the federal system have the ability to work to earn money.  While not all federal prisons offer the same job possibilities, they do adhere to a standard pay scale, which you can view to see federal prison inmate wages.

Fortunately, the Federal Bureau of prisons offers free federal inmate records, which allows for federal prison inmate tracking of all persons in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons released after 1982.  This free tool is a federal prison inmate deep web search engine that will uncover all inmates released after 1982, and will even have some information about inmates released prior to 1982.  There is talk of a federal prison inmate invisible web, but the reality is that all modern information on federal inmates is accessible to the public.  However, because not all information has been transferred to the BOP, a federal prison inmate case search for federal inmates who were released prior to 1982, you may need to go to the National Archives Records Administration (NARA).  NARA requests require more information than a BOP inmate record search, which only needs a name.  NARA federal prison inmate inquiry requests need: inmate’s full name, date of birth, age at the time of incarceration, race, and approximate dates of incarceration.  Therefore, while you may not be able to access all information from the BOP website, a federal incarcerated inmate search through the BOP and NARA should help you uncover all federal inmate records public or indicate whether you will need to file a FOIA request for additional information. The BOP only has records for U.S. federal inmates; a Canadian federal prison inmate search would need to be conducted on the Correctional Service Canada website.

Federal Inmate Search by Inmate Number

Federal Inmate Search by Inmate Number

You can use the federal prison inmate searcher with as little information as a defendant’s first and last name.  However, common names will return multiple results; therefore, the more information you have on a federal prison inmate, the more likely you are to find the correct result.  For example, if you know a defendant is incarcerated in Tucson, a federal prison inmate search that returns multiple possibilities could be narrowed by examining prison location.

Some of the records contain federal inmate pictures, which may be able to help you determine whether you have found the correct result.  You do not have to specify that you want a federal prison inmate search with photos; it is automatic.  However, not all records have attached photographs, making it impossible to designate a federal prison inmate search with pictures using the Bureau of Prison’s system.  The search results show: name; the inmate’s Federal Bureau of Prisons Register Number; Age; Race; Sex; Release date (which will be the projected federal prison inmate release date if the inmate is still incarcerated); and location.  Generally, the location will show the name of a federal prison.  It may also show “regional office” for federal prisons serving concurrent sentences in state prison; Community Corrections Management (CCM) for inmates in halfway houses; in-transit for inmates being transferred from a BOP facility; and released for inmates no longer in BOP custody.  If you need federal prison inmate more clues, such as additional information on an inmate, beyond what is available on the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, you may fill out a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.  The FOIA authorizes the release of certain information to a member of the public who requests it.  While not all prisoner information is subject to the FOIA, a FOIA request of a federal prison inmate scours their record for the requested information.  This can reveal information like a federal inmate charges.

Federal Inmate Search by Name

Federal Inmate Search by Name


The Bureau of Prisons has 122 institutions, 6 regional offices, a headquarters, 2 staff training centers, 25 residential reentry management offices, and 12 contracted private correctional institutions throughout the United States. The BOP locations are broken down in two large ways: by region and by type of facility.  You can also breakdown the facilities by region, state, facility type, security level, and prison type.   Once you locate an institution, either through the BOP location tool or through an individual prisoner’s record, you can click on that location.  Doing so will reveal images of federal prisons and basic information about that location.

Federal prisoners awaiting trial are often the easiest prisoners to locate in the BOP system, because they will often, but not always, be held in the jurisdiction where they are facing charges.  However, they are not always held in a BOP location.  Instead, they may be held in a state or local jail facility while they are facing charges.  Post-conviction, they are more likely to be transferred to a facility in a different jurisdiction.  While there are federal facilities located throughout the United States, they are disproportionate in some states.  Georgia, Virginia, Arizona, Ohio, Florida, and California all have high numbers of federal prisoners.  Fortunately, you do not need to know a federal prison address to conduct a federal court inmate search.  Instead of conducting a “federal prison inmate search Georgia,” “federal prison inmate search Virginia,” “federal prison inmate search Arizona,” “federal prison inmate search Ohio,” “federal prison inmate search Florida,” or “federal prison inmate search California,” you can simply go to the BOP’s federal prison inmate searchers tool and conduct a single search, which will look through all of the facilities to locate the inmate.  However, knowing the state where a prisoner is incarcerated is helpful, and, if the state has multiple prisons, knowing the location of the prison is even more helpful.  For example, if a prisoner is incarcerated in California, knowing the California city facilitates the federal prison inmate search.  If you know the inmate is located in a specific type of facility, you may want to search for that type of facility, such as when you run a federal prison camp inmate search.

Results from Federal Inmate Search

Results from Federal Inmate Search

However, there may be times when you want to find out about prisons with a specific purpose.  For example, some people may be looking for federal prison processing centers.  However, there is actually no official federal prison processing center designation.  Instead, facility designations include: Administrative-Maximum U.S. Penitentiary (ADX); Correctional Institution (CI); Central Office (CO); Federal Correctional Complex (FCC); Federal Correctional Institution (FCI); Federal Detention Center (FDC); Federal Medical Center (FMC); Federal Prison Camp (FPC); Federal Satellite Low (FSL); Federal Transfer Center (FTC); Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC); Medical Center for Federal Prisoners (MCFP); Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC); Regional Office (RO); Residential Reentry Center (RRC); Residential Reentry Management Office (RRM); Secure Female Facility (SFF); Satellite Prison Camp (SPC); U.S Penitentiary (USP).  Inmates at these facilities may be subject to an inmate classification when first incarcerated and are entitled to program reviews at regular intervals.

When a loved one is facing a conviction, many people like to research prisons within a 500-mile radius of the release address in order to determine where an inmate is likely to be incarcerated.  The easiest way to do this is by looking at prisons by state in the federal prison directory.

The Alabama federal prisons list includes: Aliceville FCI; Montgomery FPC; Montgomery RRM; and Talladega FCI.

The Arkansas federal prisons list includes:  Forrest City FCC.

The Arizona federal prisons list includes: Phoenix FCI; Phoenix RRM; Safford FCI; and Tucson FCC.

The California federal prisons list includes: Atwater USP; Dublin FCI; Herlong FCI;  Lompoc FCC; Long Beach RRM; Los Angeles MDC; Mendota FCI; Sacramento RRM; San Diego MCC; Taft CI; Terminal Island FCI;  Victorville FCC; and Western RO.  The federal prison Sacramento Ca is not actually a prison, but a management center for federal inmates in the reentry program.

The Colorado federal prisons list includes: Englewood FCI;  Florence FCC; and MSTC. Therefore, a federal prison Colorado inmate search would involve four facilities.  The Florence federal prison inmate search is popular because Florence FCC is the location of the Florence AdMax facility, one of the nation’s most secure prisons.

The Connecticut federal prisons list includes: Danbury FCI. The Connecticut federal prison inmate search is fairly popular because Danbury FCI was featured in the book Orange is the New Black.

The District of Columbia federal prisons list includes the Central Office HQ.

The Florida federal prisons list includes:  Coleman FCC; Marianna FCI; Miami FCI; Miami FDC; Miami RRM; Orlando RRM; Pensacola FPC; and Tallahassee FCI.

The Georgia federal prisons list includes: Atlanta RRM; Atlanta USP; D. Ray James CI; Glynco; Jesup FCI; McRae CI; and Southeast RO.   Therefore, if you were searching for Atlanta federal prison inmate photos, you would need to search two facilities.  A Georgia federal prison inmate inquiry would also include a number of different types of facilities.

The Hawaii federal prisons list includes Honolulu FDC.

The Illinois federal prisons list includes: Chicago MCC; Chicago RRM; Greenville FCI; Marion USP; Pekin FCI; and Thomson AUSP.  The state’s largest city has two facilities, which means that a federal prison inmate search in Chicago has to look at two possibilities. However, what really makes Illinois interesting is that if you wanted to conduct a Greenville federal prison inmate search you would need to know the facility was located in Illinois and not in a different Greenville. Furthermore, a federal prison Chicago inmate search might uncover inmates being held in Chicago’s city jail, which is one of the most secure city jail facilities in the United States and frequently houses federal inmates on a temporary basis.

The Indiana federal prisons list includes  Terre Haute FCC.

The Kansas federal prisons list includes: Kansas City RRM; Leavenworth USP; and North Central RO.

The Kentucky federal prisons list includes: Ashland FCI; Big Sandy USP; Lexington FMC; Manchester FCI; and McCreary USP.

The Louisiana federal prisons list includes:  Oakdale CC; and  Pollock FCC. Many people look for a federal prison in New Orleans, but the Louisiana facilities are further north.   Therefore, a Louisiana federal prison inmate search might need additional prisoner information to facilitate the process.

There is no federal prison in Maine.

The Massachusetts federal prisons list includes Devens FMC.  Massachusetts federal prison inmate search would also include prisoners from nearby states lacking federal prison facilities, like Vermont and Maine.

The Maryland federal prisons list includes: Baltimore RRM; Cumberland FCI; Mid-Atlantic RO; and Washington, DC RRM.  You would search Maryland for a Cumberland federal prison inmate search.

The Michigan federal prisons list includes: Detroit RRM and Milan FCI. Because there are only two facilities, a federal prison inmate search in Michigan should be relatively easy.  In fact, if you know an inmate is incarcerated and not in a reentry program, then you would only need to conduct a Milan federal prison inmate search.

The Minnesota federal prisons list includes: Duluth FPC; Minneapolis RRM; Rochester FMC; Sandstone FCI; and Waseca FCI.  An inmate search in Minnesota federal prison needs to include all five facilities.

The Missouri federal prisons list includes: Springfield MCFP and St Louis RRM.

The Mississippi federal prisons list includes Adams County CI and  Yazoo City FCC.  A Mississippi federal prison inmate search would be confined to these two locations.

The North Carolina federal prisons list includes:  Butner FCC; Raleigh RRM; and Rivers CI.   Contrary to popular misconception, there is no NC Department of federal prisons; federal prison inmates in North Carolina are managed by the BOP.

Nevada has no federal prison facilities.  Therefore, a Nevada federal prison inmate search should look at nearby states.

The New Hampshire federal prisons list includes Berlin FCI.

The New Jersey federal prisons list includes Fairton FCI and Fort Dix FCI.

There are no federal prisons in New Mexico.  A New Mexico federal prison inmate search may include nearby states; both Arizona and Colorado have a number of federal prisons.

The New York federal prisons list includes: Brooklyn MDC; New York MCC; New York RRM; Otisville FCI; and Ray Brook FCI.

The Ohio federal prisons list includes Cincinnati RRM and Elkton FCI.  An Elkton federal prison inmate search would look at inmates in Ohio.

The Oklahoma federal prisons list includes: El Reno FCI; Great Plains CI; and Oklahoma City FTC.  Many people conduct an Oklahoma City federal prison inmate search when looking for information on the Oklahoma City bombers, but they were not incarcerated in that facility after their conviction.

The Oregon federal prisons list includes Sheridan FCI.

The Pennsylvania federal prisons list includes:  Allenwood FCC; Canaan USP; Lewisburg USP; Loretto FCI; McKean FCI; Moshannon Valley CI; Northeast RO; Philadelphia FDC; Philadelphia RRM; Pittsburgh RRM; and Schuylkill FCI.  A Pennsylvania federal prison inmate search not only includes a number of facilities, but also a variety of different types of facilities.

The Puerto Rico federal prisons list includes Guaynabo MDC.

The South Carolina federal prisons list includes: Bennettsville FCI; Edgefield FCI; Estill FCI; and Williamsburg FCI.

The South Dakota federal prisons list includes Yankton.

The Tennessee federal prisons list includes: Memphis FCI and Nashville RRM, making a Tennessee federal prison inmate search relatively easy.  A Tennessee federal inmate search would also reveal inmates in a reentry center, so the inmates’ status would be set for release.

In contrast, the Texas federal prisons list includes: Bastrop FCI;  Beaumont FCC; Big Spring CI; Big Spring FCI; Bryan FPC; Carswell FMC; Dallas RRM; Eden CI; Fort Worth FMC; Giles W. Dalby CI; Grand Prairie; Houston FDC; Houston RRM; La Tuna FCI; Reeves I & II CI; Reeves III CI; San Antonio RRM; Seagoville FCI; South Central RO; Texarkana FCI; and Three Rivers FCI.  In a large state like Texas, looking at the map is extremely helpful; a Houston federal prison inmate search might include nearby areas and not just the two facilities with the city’s name in their title.  A Texas federal prison inmate data search would include all of the facilities and could be almost 1,000 miles away from Houston.

The Utah federal prisons list includes: Salt Lake City RRM.

Vermont has no federal prison facilities; therefore, a Vermont federal prison inmate search should look at facilities in nearby states.

The Virginia federal prisons list includes: Lee USP and  Petersburg FCC.  However, a federal prison in Virginia inmate search might want to include states that are frequently lumped together with Virginia as part of the D.C. metro area, including Maryland and D.C., itself.

The Washington federal prisons list includes: SeaTac FDC and Seattle RRM.

The Wisconsin federal prisons list includes Oxford FCI, so a Wisconsin federal prison inmate search only has to look at a single facility.

The West Virginia federal prisons list includes: Alderson FPC; Beckley FCI; Gilmer FCI;  Hazelton FCC; McDowell FCI; and Morgantown FCI.

Map of all Federal Prisons

As the above list makes clear, not all geographic regions are represented evenly, and the disproportionate distribution of federal prison facilities is not simply the result of disproportionate geographic distribution of the population.  In fact, federal prisons are often located in sparsely populated areas, where land is cheap.  They are also frequently located near bustling urban population centers, so that they can hold inmates who are awaiting trial.  This can make looking for prisons challenging.  For example, a person searching for federal prisons near Utah would not want confine themselves only to the state, but look throughout the Western region.  However, a person searching for Southern California federal prisons would want to confine a search to only part of a state, rather than expand it beyond the state, and might want to use the BOP’s regional map tool.  This is also helpful when trying to narrow down the name of a particular location, such as the name of the federal prison in Richmond, VA.

Because the federal prison inmate tracker searches through all facilities, there may seem to be little reason to run a state-specific federal inmate search.  However, there are a number of duplicate names in the federal prison system.  Knowing that an inmate is incarcerated in Oklahoma, for example, allows you to tailor your search and run an Oklahoma federal prison inmate search.  You do not have to put in the location of the prison, but you can use the locations that appear in the results to help narrow down your potential results. Of course, the utility of this possibility becomes limited in practice.  Sure, if you are trying to run a federal prison inmate search Utah, the result with Salt Lake City is the clear result.  Likewise, if you are running a search in a city with a facility named after the city, like a Brooklyn federal prison inmate search, your results may be simple.  However, there are instances where the federal prison may not match the name of the city, like if you were running a New Orleans federal prison inmate search, and you may need to use available maps to help you determine the names of the nearby institutions.

Sometimes, you may be able to predict they type of facility where an inmate will be incarcerated.  In those instances, you would want to run a federal prison camp inmate search or other facility-type specific search.  Just as if you are searching for a specific geographic location, the tracker tool does not let you limit the search to only those institutions, but the results do display the type of institution.

Sometimes, rather than searching for an inmate, you may want to conduct a federal prison prison guard search.  There is no system for searching for federal prison guards that is analogous to the inmate locator system.  Instead, you may need to first locate the facility and then contact the facility for information about specific guards.

We hope after reading this article you can now conduct a quick and successful federal prison inmate search.