What Are Federal Inmate Records?

The Federal Bureau of Prison (BOP) manages all inmate records for people incarcerated in federal prisons throughout the United States. Anyone who violates federal law and is sent to prison has a criminal record that is a collaboration of everything that has happened to them since they were arrested.

These records will include the person’s name and any aliases they use, their age, race, gender, release date, and where they are being detained. These records are updated daily and are publicly accessible so you can perform federal inmate search with pictures and find someone using just their name.

How To Search and Locate Inmates Held in Federal Prisons?

The BOP keeps an extensive database maintained on every federally incarcerated inmate. You can use a federal inmate locator system to find federal inmate case information and the facility prisoners are held in, if you want to visit or send them money.

You can also use online search portals to search for a federal inmate and get a report including their entire criminal history, all charges, offenses, sentences, and other jail stays.

There may be additional information available per the Freedom of Information Act, and you can fill out Form DOJ-361 to inquire further about someone to get more details about them.

Federal Prison Inmate Search & History

Before 1891, federal prisons existed but operated autonomously without any government involvement. Then the Three Prisons Act in 1891 changed that, and the federal government opened three prisons and self-managed them. Before 1907 the Justice Department’s General Agent handled all federal prison matters. Once abolished, the new Office of the Superintendent of Prisons and Prisoners took over in the 1920s. This entity eventually evolved into the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) around 1930.

President Herbert Hoover oversaw the first BOP, tasking it with "management and regulation of all Federal penal and correctional institutions." At that time there were only 11 federal prisons to manage. By 1940 it grew to 24 institutions and 24,360 inmates incarcerated in the federal prison system.

Alaska is the only state that retains jurisdiction over their correctional system. They declared this independence on January 3, 1959. Before that, the BOP managed their inmates. All information about federal inmates can be found through the federal prison inmate search tool online.

 Federal Inmates and Their Charges

Federal prison inmates are people who have committed federal crimes and broken strict felony laws. Many are quite dangerous and violent and will end up in facilities best equipped to handle them during their stay.

Men and women are housed in different prisons or buildings for safety and ease of management. They are kept completely separate to maintain inmate and employee protection.

The majority (58.3%) of federal inmates are white (106,913), and 37.8% (69,244) are black. The remaining are Native American (2.3%) and Asian (1.6%).

Inmates Males and Females

12,732 (6.9%)
170,488 (93.1%)

Inmates by Ethnicity

60,409 (32.9%)
123,448 (67.1%)

Staff Statistics

7,942 (21.6%)
African American
808 (2.2%)
4,464 (12.1%)
466 (1.3%)
Native American
23,128 (62.8%)
White (Non-Hispanic)

Federal Incarceration Statistics

84% of people incarcerated in the United States are held in federal prisons. Currently, that figure is 155,344 federal inmates. 18,762, about 11% of those inmates are held in privately managed facilities and the remaining 5%, 10,106 federal inmates are held in other types of facilities. The total number of federal inmates right now is 184, 122.

Total federal inmates
155,344 (84%)
Federal inmates in BOP Custody
18,762 (11%)
Federal inmates in privately managed facilities
10,016 (5%)
Federal inmates in other types of facilities

Population Statistics by Age

19 (0.0%)
Under 18 Years
2,437 (1.3%)
Ages 18-21
9,676 (5.3%)
Ages 22-25
23,572 (12.8%)
Ages 26-30
30,443 (16.6%)
Ages 31-35
34,014 (18.5%)
Ages 36-40
27,923 (15.2%)
Ages 41-45
21,122 (11.5%)
Ages 46-50
14,768 (8.0%)
Ages 51-55
9,650 (5.2%)
Ages 56-60
5,466 (3.0%)
Ages 61-65
4,767 (2.6%)
Over 65 Years

How to Send Money to a Federal Inmate?

You can very quickly send money to an inmate to be deposited into their commissary fund through the MoneyGram's ExpressPayment Program, Western Union or the mail.

  • Step 1 - first you will need the inmate's prison ID number, where they are located, their full name along with the received code of 7932.
  • Step 2 - You can then contact MoneyGram or Western union by phone or online and use the information above to send your gift.
  • Step 3 - you can send up to $300, and you may need to set up an account first.
  • Step 4 - if you are sending money via the mail, you can only use a money order.

How to Visit an Inmate?

Visiting a federal inmate is a process that you must follow carefully. You cannot just show up and expect to be admitted.

  • Step 1 - first use the inmate locator to find the inmate you want to visit.
  • Step 2 - You must go through a paperwork approval process before you can be put on a visitor waiting list.
  • Step 3 - you must honor specific dress codes, visiting hours, behavior guidelines and other rules.
  • Step 4 - you can then get directions to the facility and show up during regular visiting hours.

Federal Prisons