Differences between Federal, State, & Local Inmates

Only persons convicted of violating Federal laws (that is, laws of the United States) are sent to Federal prisons. Some individuals awaiting trial for violating Federal laws are also held in Federal prisons. Additionally, pursuant to the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997, the BOP is responsible for housing persons convicted of a felony under District of Columbia laws. While the BOP also houses a few state inmates from other jurisdictions, most inmates convicted of violating state or local laws are sent to state prisons or city or county jails.

The Bureau does not have any information on non-Federal inmates. However, most states have their own locator systems. Contact the department of corrections for the state in question for further information.

Please note: It is possible that a record may exist for an individual who was in BOP custody but never served a federal sentence of incarceration (e.g., a person was detained pre-trial but criminal charges were dismissed, held as a material witness, or held for civil contempt).