How to Find a Person in Jail for Free

By Ryn Gargulinski

  • Overview

    You're certain your best friend has been arrested, but you are not certain how to go about finding him in jail. Whenever you try to search his name online, lots of options pop up but most of them want you to pay to access the records. You don't have to. Jail records are public information and provided for free from many counties. A few simple steps can help you find your friend at no cost.
    Jail inmate
    • Step 1

      Get the details. Make sure you know the person's first and last name as well as date of birth -- or at least his age, if possible. It may also be helpful to gather any other information about him, such as address, date of arrest, description and any aliases.
    • Step 2

      Visit the jail's website. Most jails will have a site where you can search for inmates at no charge. Some of the sites will be accessed through the sheriff's office of that jurisdiction. For instance, anyone looking for a person who went to jail in Tucson, Ariz., could find the site for the Pima County Sheriff's Department. From there, a link to the Pima County Jail is on the site. Once linked to the jail site, there is an inmate search option.


    • Step 3

      Call the facility. If the person is not listed on the website, call the jail to double-check. Inmate information is often not updated immediately, or a person could have been arrested and not booked into jail for several hours.
    • Step 4

      Check with the state prisons. If all local jails come up empty, the next step is to access and search the prison websites. The state prison can usually be found under 'department of corrections,' such as the Arizona Department of Corrections for the person in Tucson you're looking for. The prison sites, too, will often have an inmate-search option. Call to double-check if the name does not appear and you think it should.
    • Skill: Moderate
    • Ingredients:
    • Computer
    • Other person's personal information
    • Tip: The prison search will only be helpful if the person has been sentenced to a long stint or has been languishing in jail for quite some time. People are not arrested and immediately sent to prison; it's the next step up from jail.
    • Tip: If a person's name does not appear and you think it should, check the site and call again in 24 hours for an update. Sometimes records can take quite some time to process.
    • Warning:
    • Don't tell your mom you met your new boyfriend this way.

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