What You Need to Know
The Illinois prison system dates back to 181 when the territory became an official state. Today, there are over 40,000 men and women incarcerated in federal and state prisons across the state (1). While it isn’t the highest total number of prisoners in the U.S., it is towards the top of the list. For that reason, many people struggle to complete an Illinois inmate search on their own.
Luckily, this complete guide does all the work for you.
6 Places to Begin Your Illinois Inmate Search
The biggest challenge of finding an inmate is knowing where to start. From type of crime to jurisdiction, there are multiple factors that determine where a person ends up. There are six popular methods used to track down an incarcerated person, but not every option works for every situation.
If you’re looking for an easier solution to find an inmate, skip to #6.
1. Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC)
The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) operates 28 different correctional centers across the state. The facilities are split between maximum, high-medium, medium, high-minimum, and minimum security levels.
Attempting to track down an inmate by searching each facility is very time-consuming. Thankfully, the IDOC has loaded all prisoner information into one database. You can browse the system by visiting their website. Simply enter the last name, inmate number, or birthdate to locate the individual.
For visiting hours, facility address, and facility information please see below.
* Menard Correctional Center (Maximum)
* Dixon Correctional Center (High-Minimum to High-Medium)
* Lawrence Correctional Center (Secure Medium)
* Pinckneyville Correctional Center (Secure Medium)
* Illinois River Correctional Center (High-Medium)
* Graham Correctional Center (Medium)
* Shawnee Correctional Center (High-Medium)
* Logan Correctional Center (Medium)
* Sheridan Correctional Center (Medium)
* Vandalia Correctional Center (Minimum)
There are also a few low-minimum prisons and transitional centers, but all of those locations each house under 400 inmates.
2. Check Out the Federal Bureau of Prisons
Individuals charged with federal crimes are sent to federal prisons. In Illinois, federal facilities account for around 5,000 inmates incarcerated in the state. Individuals that end up in federal prisons are not listed in the Illinois DOC system. Instead, you need to search using the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) system. The BOP has five facilities in Illinois:
* MCC Chicago
* FCI Greenville
* USP Marion
* FCI Pekin
* AUSP Thomson
FCI Greenville and USP Marion are the largest, with each housing around 1,300 inmates. FCI Pekin holds around 1,200 prisoners, MCC Chicago has over 600, and AUSP Thomson is the smallest with just 400 individuals. MCC Chicago, FCI Greenville, and FCI Pekin house both male and female inmates, while AUSP Thomson and USP Marion only hold men.
It is important to note that just because a person was sentenced in Illinois does not mean they were jailed in the state. Federal inmates can end up in any prison within the BOP system. Fortunately, you can search the entire [BOP database](https://www.bop.gov/inmateloc/) to find out which facility houses a specific inmate. You only need their inmate number or first and last name to complete the search.
3. Try Illinois Public Records
Public records provide personal information that may be helpful for your Illinois inmate search. These documents include voter registration documents, property records, and census information. Unfortunately, each type of record is held by a different organization.
The Office of the Illinois Secretary of State holds a wide selection of public records, but many of them are only updated to the 1950s. Such outdated material won’t be likely to help your search unless you are tracking down information about ancestors.
Luckily, voter registration is easily accessible to anyone. Search through Illinois’ online registration lookup using first and last names, birthdate, and past zip code to narrow down your search. The information you find can be used to search for other useful tidbits, like the county in which someone was prosecuted.
Unlike voter registrations, property records are maintained by county governments. To find these documents, you need to use local resources. This may include the recorder of deeds, assessor, or treasurer’s offices in the county the inmate resided. Fortunately, many counties offer online access to basic property information. For instance, you can look up recorded documents in Cook County (Chicago) using their online search function.
4. Trace Facility Location Through Illinois Court and Arrest Records
Unlike other states, Illinois doesn’t combine all cases in the state into one convenient database. For that reason, you’ll need to narrow down your search to the specific county court. Some of the most likely locations include:
Note: DuPage County only offers in-person access to court records.
Most court documents include sentencing information. By accessing the record, you may find which prison or jail assignment a person received. Even if they’ve been transferred since then, you have a starting point to trace their movements. Simply contact the initial sentencing facility and ask them where the inmate was moved. Next, contact the new facility to see if they are still being held there or not.
5. Check out Illinois County and City Records
As mentioned, many of the most helpful public records in Illinois are housed at the county or city level. Along with court and vital records, inmates are also housed locally. If a person receives a smaller sentence (usually less than one year), they’re often sent to city or county jails.
There are 92 county jails in Illinois, and many of them offer online inmate rosters. Some of the most common locations include:
Most local jail rosters are small enough that checking the list is a quick process. Simply narrow the search to areas you believe the person might have been living or where you think they were charged. If you’re fairly positive the person is located at a specific facility, but you don’t see them on the inmate list, call the location to ask.
6. Want an easier solution? Use CheckThem.com
Tracking down databases, perusing multiple websites, and sifting through hundreds of documents can be overwhelming. Fortunately, online public record search services, like CheckThem.com, speed up the process. CheckThem pulls information from millions of public records all at once, allowing you to quickly and efficiently find what you are looking for. If you’re struggling to find details for your Illinois inmate search, run a quick and easy background check today.