Searching through the Montana Department of Corrections
You can search for inmates through the Montana Department of Corrections (DOC) website. However, this search is only for inmates who have committed a felony offense and are currently under the supervision of the DOC. Those who are currently incarcerated or out on parole are both included in this classification.
Using the search tool, you can find an inmate based on their name or a unique identification number. For name searches, you can type in their first and last name to find results of any inmates under the Montana DOC with matching names. If you're not sure how the name is spelled, you can type the partial name and still get results. Once the results are loaded, you can narrow them down by gender, race, date of birth, and offender type.
The other search option is the DOC ID number. This is a unique ID number given to each inmate under the jurisdiction of the DOC. No two inmates will have the same ID number. If you don't know this number, you can learn it from the search results of a name search. The results will also tell you the custody status of the offender and exactly where they're located.
Montana Federal Prisons
Federal prisons within the state of Montana are not grouped together with the DOC prisons. If the inmate you're looking for committed a federal crime and was tried and sentenced in a federal court, they may be in a federal prison rather than a state prison. You can search all federal prisons in the country through the same interface on the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) site.
To search in the BOP tool, you only need some basic information about the prisoner. You can search their name or a unique ID number. Name searches to give room for first, middle, and last names. You can also specify their race, age, and sex to narrow results even further. Number searches use BOP register numbers, DCDC numbers, INS numbers, or FBI numbers.
County Jails and Local Correctional Facilities
There are more than 145 correctional facilities in Montana. Unfortunately, not all county jails and regional correctional facilities are included in the Montana DOC search feature. There is no universal search feature for all county jails and detention centers within Montana, forcing you to search each one individually. If the inmate you're looking for is being held in one of these places, you're likely to find them most easily based on where they committed the crime.
However, if you don't know where the inmate might be and you can't narrow down a list of these county jails and detention centers to contact, you can use a third-party search. While it's possible to contact each one individually and get the information you're looking for, it may take a lot of time and you may have to work around the facility's operating hours. Many facilities are likely to have online search features, but you would have to use each one individually.
VINElink in Montana
In Montana, you can access free information about inmates in the custody of the DOC through the VINElink system. This is a multi-state system, but it operates differently within each state. The Montana DOC participates in VINE, allowing you to call 24 hours a day to get information about a specific inmate. You can also use the online search feature.
If you want to get updates about a DOC inmate, you can register to receive notifications to your phone or email address whenever there's a change in the inmate's status. There's also a mobile app for VINE, available free for your mobile phone or tablet. You don't have to be a victim to sign up for VINE notifications in Montana.
VINE is a great resource for information about inmates under DOC supervision. But, it doesn't provide any information or access to notifications about inmates outside of DOC supervision. You will not be able to get notified about federal prisoners or non-DOC correctional facility inmates through the VINE system in Montana.
Using Other Online Search Services
If you want to cover all your bases at once, a good third-party search option can help you access all the publicly available records for an inmate at once. With minimal information about the inmate, you can perform a search to find all the records you can that point towards their location and current custody status.
While you have a lot of third-party options, CheckPeople is a good resource if you want to reduce your hassle and make the process as simple as possible. All it takes is one small flat rate for you to access an entire month of unlimited searches. You're not only limited to inmate information searches, and you won't be bothered by ads the whole time you're looking through results. When you get your results, you'll never be asked to pay more to view them.
The CheckPeople Difference
CheckPeople does a lot of the legwork for you. While it's technically possible to get all the information yourself, it's unlikely that you'll think about all the places CheckPeople is already connected to, and it will take you a lot longer. With CheckPeople, you get your results right away without having to do any digging or direct communicating yourself.
Take the easy option. CheckPeople gives you the chance to find an inmate in one search, so you sidestep all the individual websites and separate search tools. Because Montana doesn't offer a unified DOC and county jail search function, CheckPeople works to fill the gap.