Inmate Lookup Instructions
This lookup is intended to provide interested parties with information on the status and location of inmates incarcerated in a New York State Department of Correctional Services prison. Information is also provided on former inmates; primarily so an inquiry regarding a released inmate results in a positive result telling when and why the inmate was released.
The information returned contains those items of information that have traditionally been available by telephone and mail. This web page look up has been implemented to minimize the effort to request information and respond to those requests. The information returned in response to an inquiry is the most up-to-date information available. It is extracted from the Department's main inmate information database and placed on the web page at the moment of the request.
What information must I have to find an inmate using this lookup function?
The most direct way to find an inmate is through use of the Department Identification Number or DIN. The DIN is a number assigned to each inmate admitted to the Department. The same DIN is used throughout an inmate's term of commitment no matter in which prison he or she may be housed. In general, a term of commitment runs until the inmate is no longer obligated to serve prison time or be under Parole supervision. After that, should the inmate be committed to a new prison term, he or she would be assigned a new DIN.
It is also possible to look up an inmate by name. While this may be the only way to look up an inmate for whom only the name is known, it will often involve reviewing lists of many inmates with similar names to find the particular inmate of interest.
Two ways of looking up an inmate by name.
- Exact last name with year of birth.
If you know about how old the inmate is or his or her year of birth, this can narrow the search. Be aware though, that using the year of birth is based on an exact match with the inmate's last name. In other words, you must know the exact spelling of the inmate's last name. The inmate name list returned to you will include only those inmates whose last name is spelled exactly the way it was entered in the last name search field and who were born during or later than the birth year entered; i.e., only inmates of a certain age or younger.
- Partial/full last name
In contrast, when the year of birth is not used, you may enter only that part of the inmate's last name that you know (or believe you know) for certain. The name lists that are returned will include inmates whose last names begin with the full or partial last name submitted by you. At this time, there is no "Soundex" capability and there are no plans to provide one. Instead, you should try variations of spellings you may be aware of for the name you are seeking.
For both types of name lookup, the first and middle names are only used for initial positioning of the name list. In other words, the first and middle names are only used to skip to that point in the list for the very first lookup. Thereafter, all inmates with matching partial/full last names are returned in the list no matter what the first and middle name might be.
Experimentation with entering information in some or all of the search fields and varying the amount of information placed in the the search fields (i.e., partial names) will often lead to better results.
How can I obtain the DIN for a particular inmate?
You may obtain an inmate's DIN in several ways. If you are a friend or family of the inmate, you may already know the inmate's DIN or can ask him or her for it. You can also use the name search capability to find a DIN. Thereafter, should you wish to look up the same inmate again, using the DIN number is a more direct and effective way to retrieve information about the inmate. If you have difficulty identifying the inmate's DIN by using the name lookup, you may call 518-457-5000 for assistance (due to the large volume of requests, callers may experience slight delays).
Why is there the third option of doing a look up by NYSID?
This is intended for criminal justice agencies only. Many of them use an identifier known as the NYSID in their record-keeping. For them, it is more straight-forward to use the NYSID. If you should happen to know an inmate's NYSID, you will not be prevented from accessing his or her records using it. The NYSID is not available at this web site.
Who's Listed Here?
Everyone confined in state prison since the early 1970s is listed in the database, except youthful offenders, those who have had their convictions set aside by a court, and certain previously incarcerated non-violent offenders who are covered by a special provision codified in Correction Law §9, which took effect in 2010 and is explained below.
Except for data such as youthful offender records that are specifically made confidential under Criminal Procedure Law §720.35, all conviction, sentence and other information about offenders currently and previously incarcerated with the Department is considered public information under the Freedom Of Information Law and is therefore accessible.
Correction Law §752 and Executive Law §296(15) prohibit discrimination in hiring or for the issuance of any license by reason of prior criminal conviction unless:
- there is a direct relationship between the previous criminal offense(s) and the specific license or employment sought; or
- the issuance of the license or the granting of the employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public
When a person has had a conviction reversed, all official records are then sealed pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law §160.50 and, accordingly, the Department deletes all such information from this database.
Correction Law § 9
Correction Law § 9, entitled “Access to inmate information via the internet” and effective July 2010, requires the Department to remove from its website information for a limited class of non-violent offenders five years after each such offender completes his or her maximum term of imprisonment or five years after each such offender completes his or her term of parole or post release supervision. Any prior incarceration information which was removed will be restored for any offender who is returned to prison.
This statute does not apply to:
- any offender who is ineligible to earn merit time as set forth in Correction Law § 803(1)(d), namely offenders convicted of a violent felony offense, a sex offense or certain other A-1 felony offense other than drugs, or
- any offender who committed an offense covered by the Sex Offender Registration Act, as set forth in Correction Law § 168-a, including certain prostitution, obscenity and sexually motivated offenses. All of these offenders will remain on the website indefinitely.
Since this statute applies to individuals who have already been released from prison, information previously found on this website may no longer be available. If an individual is subsequently returned to the Department’s custody, the information that was previously removed will reappear on this website.
About Youthful Offenders
The names of youthful offenders committed to the Department are not maintained as part of this database. That's because Criminal Procedure Law §720.35, while providing for certain youthful offenders to be punished to a limited degree for their misbehavior, also protects them from the long-term effects of a criminal record by treating their records as confidential.
A youthful offender can be between the ages of 16-18 at the time the offense was committed. The longest prison sentence a youthful offender can receive is 1 1/3 to 4 years.
The law further provides that a youthful offender adjudication is not a judgment of conviction for a crime or any other offense.
The law also requires that all official youthful offender records and papers are confidential and may not be made available to any person or public or private agency, other than the institution to which a youthful offender has been committed.