California state prison agency launches online inmate locator

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The California Department of Corrections is making it easier for people to find prison inmates. It’s launched a free online search engine that enables users to find a prisoner’s location with a few simple keystrokes.

Inmates can move around a lot during a stretch in the slammer – sometimes hundreds of miles from where they committed crimes. The transfers can happen abruptly because of overcrowding or a riot – like the one that rocked the prison in Chino last year.

Hundreds of inmates were scattered to prisons across California after several dorms were wrecked. It took relatives several days to track down inmates.

The new Inmate Locator should speed up the search. Enter a name or inmate number into the no-frills search engine. Out comes the prisoner’s most current location, age, date of incarceration, inmate number and even directions to the prison.

Corrections chief Matthew Cate says the online tool makes it easier to stay in touch with friends and relatives on the inside.

I tried the locator, and it did return results fast – when it found a match. A couple of times, it didn’t. So if you can’t find an inmate through the locator, the next step is to contact the Department of Correction’s Identification Unit.

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