When someone you love is incarcerated, you want to know exactly where they are and how to communicate with them. You want to know how to send a package and what can go in it. Knowing where they are is key for planning their return to the outside world after they serve their time. The first step is finding them.
Understanding the prison system
There are five major types of prisons or jails in the United States: federal, military, state, private, and county. Federal and military prisons are managed by the national government, while state prisons and county jails are managed by local authorities. Private prisons are managed for-profit and contracted to serve state or federal needs.
The good news is that Utah doesn’t have any federal or military prisons, and the state does not yet contract with private prisons. That means you’ll only need to look for an inmate among state prisons and county jails. The bad news is this still leaves a lot of ground to cover, and many county jails don’t host their own online inmate search.
The difference between state and county detention facilities
Generally, someone who has been convicted of a serious crime in the state of Utah and given a sentence of more than a year will be sent to state prison. There are a few exceptions, as some people convicted at the federal level are sometimes sent to state prisons.
County jails are usually reserved for less serious convictions and shorter sentences, but on rare occasions, inmates at county jails can be there for as long as two years.
When it comes to finding someone in the prison systems, you have options. Make use of free search services to help you save time and connect with your loved ones as efficiently and as quick as possible.
Finding someone in Utah
The Utah Department of Corrections makes it easy to search for someone in state prison. Unfortunately, things aren’t so simple at the county level. Some counties offer a website where you can search for inmates by name or look through mugshots, but others have no information online.
You could call, but be aware that it could take quite a while before you get the information you need. To complicate matters, the state prisons don’t have enough beds to house all their inmates, so state inmates are regularly transferred to and from county jails to serve their time.
Getting around the county dilemma
Your fastest option to find someone in the county jail is to use a free background check. This service looks through all public records, including arrest records and mugshots, and can tell you quickly where someone is being held.
By using a background check like the one offered by GoLookUp, you avoid having to call the main Department of Corrections number (and wait until they do a search and get back to you) or having to call each of the 29 individual county correctional facilities until you find the right one.
How to reach someone in prison
The Utah Department of Corrections encourages friends and family to reach out to loved ones in prison. The goal is for all inmates to successfully rejoin society, and the UDC views your input as key to that success.
Making a visit
To visit a prisoner in Utah, you’ll first need to fill out a Visitors Application Form. Once you’ve sent in the form, you’ll be subject to a background check. If you pass, you’ll be added to the list of approved visitors for that inmate.
Making a call
Utah uses CenturyLink for inmate phone calls, so you’ll need to set up a prepaid account with CenturyLink so the inmate can call you.
Sending a letter
Each county jail has different rules, so once you find your inmate’s location, call the jail or visit the website to find out more. If your loved one is in one of the state prisons, letters can only be single layer white paper in single layer white envelopes. Don’t use any paint, makers, or crayon to write with, and be aware that inmates can’t have more than 25 photos at one time.