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How to Find Out When a Prisoner is Being Released – A Guide

Knowing when a prisoner will be released from incarceration can provide important closure and information for victims, families, and communities. However, finding out details on inmate release dates is not always straightforward. This guide will provide tips and resources on determining when a prisoner is being released.

Background Checks and Online Inmate Searches

One of the easiest ways to find information on a prisoner’s release date is to conduct a background check or search inmate records online. Many state departments of corrections offer searchable databases of their inmate populations on their websites.

These online tools allow you to search by inmate name or ID number and return information like:

  • Current facility
  • Offenses/convictions
  • Scheduled release date
  • Parole eligibility dates

Here are some of the largest state databases available online:

StateDatabase Website
New York

There are also some nationwide inmate search aggregators that compile data from multiple states and jurisdictions. For example:

These aggregated searches make it easy to check multiple state databases at once. Just enter the inmate’s name and it will return matches from across the country.

Contacting Corrections Departments

If you cannot find the information you need from an online search, contacting the corrections department directly is another option.

Every state has a Department of Corrections that oversees the prison system and inmate records. You can call or email the department for a specific inmate and request their release date.

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When making inquiries, have the following information ready:

  • Full legal name of the inmate
  • Date of birth or approximate age
  • Inmate ID number (if known)
  • Current or last known correctional facility

Depending on the policies of that state, the department may provide you with the scheduled release date or require a formal information request.

Using VINE Services

Another helpful service offered in many states is VINE, which stands for Victim Information and Notification Everyday.

VINE is a free and anonymous telephone service that provides custody status and criminal case information to registered users. By calling the VINE number or visiting, victims and concerned citizens can receive automated notifications about:

  • Release dates
  • Transfers
  • Escapes
  • Parole hearings
  • Other updates

To use VINE, you first search for the inmate you are looking for. If available, you can then register to receive phone and email notifications when that offender’s status changes.

This automated system helps families and victims easily keep up-to-date on an inmate’s whereabouts and release date. It is offered across 47 states currently.

Hiring a Private Investigator

For difficult cases where details are unclear, it may be worth hiring a private investigator to help determine a prisoner’s release date.

Private investigators have access to proprietary databases and resources that general public searches lack. They can dig deeper and provide a more comprehensive case history and offender profile.

Some of the search methods a private investigator might use include:

  • Inmate locators and DOC records
  • Arrest records and court documents
  • Interviews with corrections staff
  • Parole board hearing schedules
  • Prisoner transportation details
  • Public records cross-checks
  • Paid data services and databases

This level of investigation may be essential for high profile cases or when the inmate is being moved across multiple facilities. While expensive, a private investigator may uncover release details that are otherwise unavailable.

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Understanding the Release Process

Before an inmate is released, they typically go through a step-by-step process on their scheduled departure date:

  1. Discharge of Sentence: The inmate has completed their full sentence, probation, and parole obligations and is discharged from DOC custody.
  2. Release Planning: Corrections staff review eligibility, create a release plan, and sign release authorization.
  3. Notification of Victims: If required, registered victims are notified of the upcoming release per state statutes.
  4. Clothing/Property Return: Inmates change back into personal clothing and receive property held during incarceration.
  5. Transition Funds: A small amount of money may be provided for transportation upon release.
  6. Release Processing: Final inter-facility transfer occurs before being released.
  7. Release: Inmate exits the prison back into the community.
  8. Probation/Parole: Some inmates may have mandatory supervision requirements after release.

Victims should be aware of this general process when an inmate release date approaches. Reach out to corrections staff if you have any concerns or need clarification leading up to the prisoner’s release.


Finding out details on when a prisoner will be released requires patience, persistence, and knowledge of the system. But by utilizing online databases, corrections departments, VINE services, and private investigators, it is possible to confirm release timelines in most cases.

Remember to always register for official victim notifications through corrections departments or VINE in your state. By taking proactive steps and working with the proper authorities, families, victims, and communities can stay informed.

The release process varies state-by-state, so reach out to local resources when possible. Understanding the nuances of releases, parole, and probation at the facility level is key to getting answers. And consult victim advocates if you need help navigating the system or coping with the transition.

With the right tools and support, concerned citizens can find out when inmates are being released and make plans to protect their safety and peace of mind.

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What is the most reliable way to find out an inmate’s release date?

Contacting the state Department of Corrections directly to inquire about a specific inmate is the most reliable method. Online inmate locators are handy, but formal information requests ensure you get the most up-to-date details.

How far in advance are release dates determined?

Release dates are typically set months in advance, with exact dates calculated near the end of an inmate’s sentence or when granted parole. However, dates can fluctuate up until the actual day of release. Registering for notifications provides updates on any changes.

What information do I need to provide to request an inmate’s release date?

At minimum, you will need the inmate’s first and last name and their incarcerating facility. If you have their date of birth or inmate ID number, providing those can help with identification and searching. Some agencies may request documents that connect you to the inmate’s case.

What happens to inmates with no family or home plan pre-release?

Inmates without family support or housing may be transferred to transitional facilities like halfway houses before full release. Social workers help create re-entry plans tailored to the inmate’s needs, including substance abuse treatment, job placement services, and access to social services.

How can I determine if an inmate is eligible for early release or parole?

The state Department of Corrections or the parole board have information on early release and parole eligibility guidelines. Examples include minimum sentence requirements, conditions like good behavior credits, and details on parole hearings. Contact them for specifics on a particular inmate.

Imran Khan

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We are dedicated to exploring the intricacies of prison life and justice reform through firsthand experiences and expert insights.

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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