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Renewing friendship can be a great source of happiness. Perhaps you lost track of someone when you moved, took a new job or went off to college. You may also want to look up an old friend because you had a relationship that did not work out. After you’ve broken up, it can help to renew the relationship. However, many people are surprised to find out it can be hard to find someone they know. You may hear from other friends and family that your former friend has an arrest record. In that case, you want to find out if someone you know went to jail. While it may appear hard to track down arrest records, there are a number of steps you can take find out if your friend is in jail right now.

Get Correct Information

In today’s information age, fortunately, it’s easier than ever to find out is my friend in jail. The internet is your best friend. The first thing you want to do is make sure you have enough information before you start. Specific information is crucial. Ask your friends if you are spelling your friend’s name correctly. Your friend may have married and changed their name. They may also have chosen to change their name because they did not like it. Your friends can also help with other information such as the person’s birthday. This can be especially important if they have a very common name.

Jail and Prison are Different

While most people think jail and prison are the same, they are not. Jail is typically used for certain prisoners. These are people with sentences under a year and those who have been arrested but not yet sentenced and cannot make bail. The prison system is for people with criminal records who have been sentenced for serious crimes for more than a year. If you know the person was arrested in a certain community, they are probably being held in the county jail or federal prison in that area. Which you can use a Federal Inmate Lookup tool to find them.

Searching Properly

Once you have important details down like the person’s actual name, their probable location at the time of their arrest and other details, you can begin your online searching to find out is my friend in prison. If you have found out where your friend was arrested, this can serve as your starting point for your efforts to find if they have been arrested, convicted or are presently serving out a jail term. Many counties have well-maintained websites you can search directly to find your friend.

Use Law Enforcement Websites

While not all law enforcement authorities have websites, many do. You can take advantage of this fact during your search. Start with a list of county jails. You can often find this a local enforcement page such as a county sheriff’s office. You may see several counties with the same name during your search. Make sure you have the right county as you start. As you search the databases, keep certain things in mind. Above all, remember that such databases are deeply flawed. You may find people who are not in prison at all. You may also find the names of people who have already been released from jail a long time again. Think of the database as a starting point and not something that will give you a definitive answer.

Consider Neighboring Counties

One way to help compensate for unclear data is by checking other counties nearby. An inmate may have been moved from one county jail to another because of overcrowding. You can use neighboring counties to search for your friend as well. There are resources that offer an online inmate locator that you can use in order to find them. However, again such online resources may also be limited in scope and not always updated frequently.

The Victim Information and Notification Everyday

Otherwise known as VINE, this program is designed to keep crime victims abreast of whereabouts of anyone who is serving time for hurting them. VINE, like other online databases, is used in many places but it is also limited. You may not find information about all counties here or you may find outdated information on the site. Keep that mind as you search the database. VINE can also be set up to notify you if someone is released or moved to another location. If you want to track your friend, this can be a good way to do so.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons

The Feds maintain a separate prison system. Just like other kinds of online websites, you can also search this one for potential inmate information. You will need to have inmate’s correct full name before you can get any information about them. This site will also only apply to those who are being accused of federal crimes rather than state crimes. A DUI, for example, will not result in a stay in federal prison unless other crimes such as crossing state lines also happen during any crime being committed, usually, it’s because the person is a felon or a habitual offender.

Looking Offline

Even when searching online, you may still need to use offline sources. Just because the database indicated your friend is in a given jail does not mean that’s where they are right now. You should always talk to the county jail or clerk of courts office. Keep in mind that you will need the person’s exact name. Also, keep in mind that anyone who has been recently arrested may not be listed on an inmate roster may not be in the system quite yet. In that case, you can ask to speak to an arresting officer. They can help you confirm that your friend is being held in custody at the present time or was held there in the past.

Be Persistent

Keep in mind a few things as you look. Be persistent and always call to confirm that your online information is accurate. If you want to dig deeper then you can run a background report on the individual too.