How to Find Prisoner Info and Mugshots

Exploring the criminal justice system on the web

Man's hands on prison bars
Gary S Chapman/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

If you're looking for a prison inmate, a mugshot, or more information about the United States criminal justice system, the internet hosts a number of websites that can help.

The resources below can be used to locate inmate pictures, find which facility an inmate is located at, see where prisons and jails are in each state, and learn other details related to the penal system.

Find Prisoners With a Federal Inmate Locator

Inmate Locator at Federal Bureau of Prisons

The easiest way to do a nationwide inmate search to locate which prison an inmate is located at (or where they were held before release), is to search for the person using the Find an Inmate search tool on Bop.gov. It works for any offender incarcerated from 1982 to present day.

Find Information About State Prison Systems

VINELink Iowa page

VINELink, a service of the National Victim Notification Network, lets you search criminal cases and offender information state by state. You also have the opportunity to obtain information about current criminal cases and the status of offenders.

The same Bop.gov website from above can be used to find more information about federal prisons, such as the prison's primary email address and phone number, its judicial district and county, how many inmates are in the prison, and more. Visit Bop.gov's Search Locations page for these details.

Locate Inmate Pictures and Mugshots

Florida Department of Corrections website

Since most states keep an online database of people in the penal system, you can usually find mugshots with identifying information such as the date of the crime and the length of the sentence.

To do this, open a search engine and type your state followed by the phrase department of corrections to find your jurisdiction's offender database. They're also listed on this Wikipedia page.

Once you get to your state's Department of Corrections page, you might have to do a little bit of searching for penal records. Each state has them listed differently; some might have a link to Offender Search or Inmate Search.

Every state's penal search form has a couple of things in common. You'll need at least a last name just to get started, and if you have a first name, you'll have even better results. Unless you have a lot of specific information, try a general search first and narrow it down until you find what you're looking for.

If you want a copy of your own individual arrest images, you can go to the jail where the initial booking took place and make inquiries. The process differs by county and state, but you'll most likely need to make a formal records request to obtain this information. If the mugshot is part of an ongoing investigation, it may be exempt from any kind of public records request depending on where you're located.

Not every person who gets arrested gets their picture taken, and arrest information isn't necessarily public record unless you're a celebrity or person of note.