A prisoner is an offender who has committed a crime, convicted after a fair trial, and remanded in a correctional facility for a specified period. Also known as inmates, prisoners spend time in county jails, state or federal prisons depending on the severity of their crimes. The local Sheriff’s department, the Illinois Department of Corrections, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons are responsible for the custody of these prisoners during their incarceration in Illinois.
Finding Offenders in State Prisons
The Illinois Department of Corrections operates nearly 30 correctional facilities in the state. Interested persons may find information about persons incarcerated in these facilities online, in-person, and via mail requests. The choice depends on convenience and which method provides the information sought.
- Online search
Because correctional facilities are located across the state, online search is the most convenient way to access inmate information. It is also the cheapest since it costs nothing, and the searcher only needs a phone/computer with active internet access. To find inmate information online:
- Visit the inmate search portal.
- Enter the search parameter you know, i.e., name, offender unique number, or birth date.
- Click the find button.
If you use the inmate’s name as a search parameter, the database will return a list of inmates bearing the same name across various correctional facilities in the state. The search will then need to sort through the search result for the prisoner of interest. However, searching with offender numbers and birth date helps to narrow down the search results. After all, the offender number is unique to each inmate, and it is rare for two inmates bearing the same name to share a birthdate.
- In-persons and mail requests
Using the state prison directory, identify the address and contact information of the prison where the person of interest is serving time. Then, you may call the prison administrator to schedule a visit for your public inmate records request. Conversely, you may write a letter to the Illinois Department of Corrections requesting inmate records. The letter must state the prisoner’s full name and additional information such as conviction date, age, and relevant demographic data. These help prison staff identify the inmate and retrieve the records of interest. Send mail requests in a self-addressed stamped envelope to:
Illinois Department of Corrections
1301 Concordia Court
P.O. Box 19277
Springfield, IL 62794-9277
Phone: (217) 558-2200 x 2008
Sending an email is the least efficient way to contact the Department of Corrections due to the volume of emails received daily. Instead, you may complete the contact form, selecting Record Search under the General Subject section of the contact form.
Finding Inmates In County Jails
Information on offenders in county jails is available at the office of the County Sheriff Department. Inmate information is typically online because most of these local law enforcement agencies maintain publicly online databases. To access the online database, visit the Sheriff’s website and find the inmate roster, booking list, or jail list.
You may also visit the Sheriff’s office in person or write a letter to them. Your letter must also contain the inmate’s full name, date of conviction, and offense. Always enclose your correspondence in a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Finding Inmates In Federal Prisons
The Federal Bureau of Prisons operates six correctional facilities in Illinois. These are where persons convicted of federal crimes spend time after a trial in a federal district court. To find prisons in a federal facility, use the inmate locator. This database allows you to find the offender by name or unique numbers. A name-based search is the most convenient way to find a prisoner, but it is not the most efficient. If several prisoners bear the same name, you must sort through every result for the person of interest.