More than 2 million American adults are behind bars in some capacity. They could be held in a county lockup, a state prison, or even a federal prison. We have the highest incarceration rate in the entire world, higher than countries such as Russia. It's very likely that, at some point, someone you know will end up in jail. This may be a bad thing. For instance, a husband who calls and says he got arrested for DUI is always stressful. But if someone who robbed you at gunpoint goes to prison, that's good news. Either way, you'll need tools to locate people in jail. Keep reading to find out ways to get the information you're seeking.
If it's a loved one who just got arrested
Let's say you've got a loved one who calls you from jail in a panic. They've been picked up on an active warrant, and they're so flustered that they can't even tell you the name of the facility where they're being held. This kind of panicked reaction is common. But if you want to get information on the charges and decide whether or not to bail them you, you'll need to do some research.
If you don't mind making phone calls, there's an obvious solution. Call the local jails in your area. Start with the county or city jail, because that's where people are generally taken right after the arrest. The booking process can take a few hours, and sometimes online records won't update quite as fast as you'd like. That's why a jail employee will often (but not always) have more up-to-date information than the county jail's website.
Jail records are also public information. That's why newspapers and TV stations frequently run mugshots and other information alongside a news story reporting someone's arrest. You're not asking for anything that any other local residents can't get.
If you're a crime victim
If you've been a victim of a crime a while ago, you may want to occasionally check in to make sure that the person arrested and convicted is still behind bars. This is a common impulse, and you shouldn't feel bad about it. In fact, your local prosecutor's office should have a victim advocate's department that helps victims navigate this sort of thing. You can also do an online search to find your state's Crime Victims' Bill of Rights. Every state has policies and procedures for this sort of thing, and looking up the legislation can give you a clearer idea of what rights you do (and don't) have.
But you may not always feel like contacting your victim advocate to get information. In that case, you have some other options. Many states have set up websites for crime victims to look up information on their cases. If you want more information, that's OK too. If you got robbed 10 years ago, you might wonder if the person who robbed you got out of jail and stayed clean, or if they went on to offend again. An online mugshots search is a decent way to answer some of those questions.
Be careful when you do this search. Seeing the criminal's face again can stir a lot of emotions, so make sure you can do this search when you're feeling emotionally up to it. It also helps to have a friend or loved one in the room with you when you're searching. They can provide valuable moral support, even if it means cracking an inside joke that lightens the mood. Being victimized can cause symptoms that are physical, mental, and emotional. Unexpected emotions can pop up months or years after the crime occurred. Finding out that the perpetrator is still in jail may give you a sense of relief, but it can give you a lot of other feelings as well.