Why is this information accessible?
The Freedom of Information Act, enacted in 1967, allows all Americans to access public records. Arrest records, criminal records, legal action, offender status and incarceration status all qualify as public information. Anyone can access these records, with only internet access and the right knowhow.
Conducting an inmate search is perfectly legal and appropriate in a lot of circumstances. It may seem alarming to learn so much about a person with one search, but that is the nature of the criminal justice system; everything is made public.
What you will need
You need to know some basic information before conducting an inmate search. First off, you need to know the offender's name – it would be impossible to just scroll through a statewide list of incarcerations to find the person you are looking for.
A name is not always enough, though (there are likely hundreds of "Joe Smith's" incarcerated in the state of West Virginia). It would help narrow down your search to know where an inmate is incarcerated, or other information, i.e. past addresses, relatives' names, past employment, etc.
For searches within West Virginia, the best information you could have is the county where your inmate is incarcerated. Daily incarcerations and full lists of offenders are sorted by county name – knowing the county, you may be able to narrow down the specific jail or prison where someone is located.
Where to look
There are a few different ways to conduct an inmate search in the state of West Virginia. The website of the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitations will help you find current offenders in both jails and prisons as well as track daily incarcerations. You can also find a statewide list of escapees and absconders on the website.
To conduct a search using the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitations site, you will need to know the county and preferably the exact jail or prison where the inmate you are looking for is incarcerated. You cannot search by name – but there are other places online where a name search can provide results.
Through Checkpeople, you can conduct an inmate search with just a name, city and state. Depending on how much information is publicly available for the particular inmate, a quick search on Checkpeople should give you everything you are looking for.
You found who you are looking for. Now what?
If you have found an inmate in West Virginia using Checkpeople or another online search and wish to make contact with them, please use caution and bear in mind that this cannot be done through Checkpeople or other search databases.
If you have found the mailing address of the prison or jail where the inmate is incarcerated, you may be able to send them a letter. If you know the person, this could be a great way to get in touch – communication with an incarcerated inmate can be difficult, as they do not have access to social media or cell phones, so researching their mailing address through an inmate search can help you reach out.
If you do not know the inmate, please conduct a thorough search before initiating contact. You can quickly find out if someone is a sexual or violent offender using Checkpeople.
Previously incarcerated inmates
If the person you are looking for has been released from jail or prison in West Virginia, you may not be able to find all of their information through an inmate search. However, through a search of their personal records on Checkpeople, you will be able to see if someone has previously been arrested or incarcerated; how long they were in jail or prison and why. This is a great service to help you feel safe around new roommates, neighbors or coworkers.
A few things to keep in mind when conducting an inmate search
An inmate search through Checkpeople or another database is a great way to answer any questions you might have about someone in your family, a loved one you have lost touch with, or even a high-profile criminal you are curious about.
That said, please conduct your inmate searches responsibly. Make sure you are only using verified sources – simply Googling someone's name and reading what pops up is not a safe way to gain accurate information about an inmate. Checkpeople is a safe, certified and legal source of information that can quickly and accurately answer your questions.
Remember that an inmate's information, though public, is still their personal information. Do not use what you have learned through an inmate search to slander or send inappropriate mail or messages to someone.
We hope your inmate search on Checkpeople will help you find what you are looking for.