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California Inmate Search

California Inmate Search, run by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), is a public service to increase public safety and well-being while offering access to detailed information on convicted individuals.

The CDCR is the primary law enforcement agency responsible for the state's correctional systems. It is also responsible for establishing, preserving, and updating inmate records. The department stores these records online in a searchable database, making inmate searches easy.

Note that the CDCR inmate search only returns results for those presently detained by the agency. Thus, the database eliminates information about released individuals.

What Are California Inmate Records?

California Inmate Records are official documents that list people booked or locked up in state prisons, conservation camps, county jails, and city jails. It has different types of papers, forms, DNA, fingerprints, video, images, audio clips, and other media that show a person's criminal record and time spent in prison or jail.

These records come from the court, the local police (like police reports, mugshots, arrest warrants, and other prison or jail files), and the CDCR.

Under the California Public Records Act, these records are available to anyone who wants it. And a typical California Inmate Search will give you the following information:

  • Inmates' names
  • Registration numbers
  • Dates of birth
  • Genders
  • Locations
  • Custody status

What Are California Prison and Jail Records?

The CDCR runs state prison and county jail systems in the state. With a budget of more than $10 billion, the department is one of California's most significant state agencies. It has more inmates than any other state, with more than 165,000. Most of these inmates are in jail for crimes that do not involve violence.

Here are other facts in the California Prison and Jail Records:

  • In California, 95% of inmates are men, and only 5% are women.
  • State and local governments in California spent 369% more on corrections. They went from spending around $2.7B (1979-1980) to $12.7B (2012-2013).
  • About 80,589 people get out of prison in California annually, but there are more than that number who go to jail.
  • There are 100 prisons or jails in California that the state or the federal government runs. Only 63 of them offer college courses.
  • In California, the number of people in prison is nearly 25% higher than the system can handle. On the other hand, the average daily number of people in the county jail is almost 10% higher than what the jails can hold.

What Are the Types of Prisons and Jails in California?

There are several various types of prisons and jails in the state. State and federal prisons are usually on large pieces of land owned by the state or federal government and are in remote areas to keep them safe and away from the public. On the other hand, jails are in counties.

Here are the types of prisons and jails in California:

California Federal Prisons

There are 13 federal prisons all over the state. Contact or visit the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FOB) website to find a federal inmate in California.

It lists federal prisons, including their location, number of inmates, phone number, gender, address, and email address. They also explain how to visit or send goods to prisoners.

California State Prisons

There are 35 prisons for adults in California. Some are only for men, and others are only for women.

California is reforming its prison system to reduce overcrowding and redirect budget funds to rehabilitation programs.

California County Jails

There are more than 110 county jails in California, with one long-term facility each. Many counties provide short-term holding cells for those awaiting court dates and short-term prisons for those convicted for less than one year.

The County Sheriff's Departments often operate county jails in the state.

California Juvenile Detention Centers

There are four juvenile detention centers in California, and they are the following:

If you want to do a California juvenile detention center search, note that there are various rules regarding disclosing minors' information. Only family members and authorized friends are typically permitted to obtain such information.

California Conservation (Fire) Camps

California has 44 Conservation (Fire) Camps to help local, state, and federal agencies respond to emergencies or natural disasters like floods and fires. On this facility locator, you can find the physical addresses and contact information for these facilities.

Around 3,700 inmates labor in these camps; 2,600 convicts have undergone firefighting and other emergency training, while the rest support the operation.

California Private Prisons

California has a contract with one institution outside the state, which is the La Palma Correctional Center (LPCC) in Arizona, to cope with overcrowding. The correctional system sends inmates here, and this institution coordinates their care. 

How To Perform Inmate Search in California?

The inmate search system in California is called CDCR Inmate Locator. It helps you find people locked up in state-owned prisons and jails. Once you agree to the terms and conditions, you will be directed to the California Inmate Search system. In this tool, you can look up inmate records for free using the inmate's name or CDCR identification number.

Note that this online access only gives you information about adult inmates. You can't see the juvenile records in California Youth Facilities. Also, It can take a few days for the records to catch up if an inmate has transferred to another facility.

Lastly, the CDCR often doesn't inform the public about certain inmates because of safety and security concerns.

If you can't find an inmate using the CDCR Inmate Locator online tool, call the Department's ID Unit at (916) 445-6730 during office hours or ask the appropriate office in charge in each type of California prison or jail.

How To Contact an Inmate in California?

California gives family and friends ways to get in touch with inmates. Here's how you can contact an inmate in the state:

Written Contact

In California, you can write to any state prison inmate you want. Letters that come in are opened and checked for illegal items before being sent to the inmate. For quick processing, you should also include the following information:

  • Inmate's full name
  • CDCR number (housing assignment)
  • P.O. Box Housing (preferable) 
  • Institution Name 
  • City, CA ZIP 

You can call the Department's ID Unit if you are unaware of the CDCR number. Also, if the inmate you seek has a common name, you must give the birth date.

Email Contact

If a particular institution has the necessary equipment, through the Viapath Technologies website, every inmate can get emails and photos from friends and family. Typically, electronic communication (2,000 characters maximum), either an image or e-card, will cost $.05 each.

Mailing Addresses

Most of the time, the address for the inmate's mail differs from the address for the institution. For California State Prisons, you can use this directory and click on the prison that detains the inmate in the right column. At the top of that page will be a list of addresses.

Phone Contact

Most inmates have phone access and can collect calls from other people. When you write for an inmate, you can supply a telephone number where an inmate can contact you. Note that the inmate must initiate the call, which lasts only 15 minutes.

How To Visit an Inmate in California?

The CDCR enables incarcerated criminals to have visitors on designated days, depending on the correctional institution. It makes rules and guidelines for visiting adults and minors in California prisons and other detention centers. Before you go, read the CDCR's Rules for visiting Juvenile Facilities and Adult Prisons.

It is also best to know the prison or jail that housed the inmate. Use the California Inmate Search to get this information. After that, create an account on the Visitor Processing Appointment Scheduling System (VPASS) and schedule visits. Then, you can check the VPASS Visiting Status page to see if the California prison is open for visits.

You can also call (800) 374-8474 to find out if you can visit a CDCR facility. Also, contact that facility on your visit, as state prisons may cancel visits anytime.

Note that the visiting rules vary from one local jail or prison to the next. Thus, visiting the jail's county or city website for visiting hours and other regulations is best.

How To Send Money to an Inmate California

Generally, if you want to send money to a state inmate, you need to know their name and CDCR number. In California, there are three ways to add money to the accounts of inmates, and these are through:

Mailing the Prison a Check or Money Order

When checks and money orders are sent directly to a California state prison address, there are no processing or vendor fees. But the money won't appear in inmates' accounts for 30 days.

Electronic Funds Transfer

The CDCR has approved GTL/ConnectNetwork, Access Corrections, GTL/ConnectNetwork, and JPay, as providers for electronic funds transfer. These vendors charge processing fees and add money to inmates' accounts in 1–3 days.

Sending a Check or Money Order to a JPay Address

If you send a check or money order to a JPay address, the inmate won't get the money for ten business days. You must also fill out the vendor's Money Order Deposit Form.

There are different rules for funding inmates' accounts in county and city jails in California. So, it is best to visit the county or city website or call the police or sheriff's office to determine the necessary actions

Counties in California