Massachusetts Court Records
Where to Find Massachusetts Inmate Records
Massachusetts inmate records are the original documentation of individuals incarcerated by the courts in a penal institution or jail in Massachusetts. Per MGL C.127 §2 and MGL C.124 §1(j), the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (MADOC) and local law enforcement agencies create and keep accurate inmate records. These records contain personal, commitment, admission, sentencing, and release information of inmates.
Are Incarceration Records Public Information in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, records of an inmate’s incarceration are open to the public unless access is limited by law or public policies of the state’s Department of Corrections. These records are disseminated to the public and inmates according to provisions of the Massachusetts Public Records Law.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
What Information is Contained in a Massachusetts Inmate Record?
103 CMR 156.01 (3) of the Department of Corrections public policies defines “inmate records” as any or all of the documents listed below:
- Central office case (historical) records: These records contain information of an inmate incarcerated before 2008 and is similar to the information contained in the inmate six-part folder. 103 DOC 154 covers procedures for dissemination of these records to the public and other agencies
- Institutional two-flap folders: records of inmates serving sentences not more than a year.
- Mittimus papers: sentencing documents sent from a court when an offender is committed to the Department of Corrections
- Electronic Inmate Management System (IMS) files: The automated information system of the Department of Corrections used to process, store, and retrieve inmate records or other inmate-related information
- Institutional six-part folders: Per 103 CMR 155.00, these are the standard inmate commitment records and are divided into six parts:
- Sentencing: contains details on an inmate’s sentence, including sentence deductions, offender face sheets, sentence listings, detainer paperwork, and appeal forms. A face sheet contains an offender’s physical characteristics (sex, height, hair/eye color, religion, race, scars/marks/tattoos, etc.) and commitment information (including name, date/place of birth, admission date, driver’s license number)
- CJIS (Criminal Justice Information System): contains information on an inmate’s docket entry sheets, FBI report, fingerprint card, and initial and most recent CJIS
- Classification: has information on an inmate’s signed personal program plan, inactive visiting card(s), general population waivers, orientation or handbook receipts
- Correspondence: contains information concerning every inmate-related correspondence and finalized CORI or evaluative requests
- Disciplinary: has information on any original guilty disciplinary package
- Activities: contains information on educational or work release records and emergency escorted trip requests
However, certain information related to an inmate’s evaluation, known as “evaluative information” and defined by MGL C.124, cannot be disclosed to an inmate or any member of the public. This information is outlined under 103 CMR 157.07(3) and includes:
- Records created by an agency other than the Department of Corrections
- Information that if released, may endanger the life of an employee of the Department, threaten the security of the Department, or endanger the life of another person
- Information that, if released, will harm or undermine the treatment relationship between a counselor and client (inmate)
- Records provided to the Department that are expressly confidential
- Working papers or documents used by a deciding authority for consideration
- Attorney documents that are not disclosable in a civil or criminal proceeding
The procedures for inmate booking, admissions, and the creation of inmate records are outlined in 103 DOC 401.
Where do I Look Up an Inmate in Massachusetts?
Inmate information in Massachusetts is available to the public as follows:
- By searching with an Inmate Locator to find inmates confined in state prisons. Searchers can access information on persons imprisoned in Essex County and any of the 16 prison facilities maintained by the Department of Corrections
- By contacting the law enforcement agency responsible for the management of a local jail. For a county correctional facility (jail) or house of correction, this agency is a local sheriff’s office.
How Do I Conduct an Inmate Search in Massachusetts?
Interested persons can search for Massachusetts inmates using the online tool specified above. To search for someone in a state prison using this locator, a party must provide an inmate’s full name (first and last) or the inmate’s commitment number. At the county level, the local sheriff’s office provides information on committed offenders and pretrial detainees to the public. Typically, sheriff websites have the necessary contact information or addresses to make these inquiries.
Paper or electronic copies of inmate records can be obtained from the Department of Corrections by submitting a public request online or to the Department of Corrections’ Records Access Officer (RAO) by email, phone (508) 422–3436, or mail. The mailing address for inmate record requests may be found on the Department of Corrections website. Requesters must provide enough information about the record being sought to allow for the prompt processing of requests. The first 4 hours used to process a record request are free. Upon expiration of this time, the Department may assess an hourly fee up to $25.
How Can I Find an Inmate for Free in Massachusetts?
No fee is assessed by the Department of Corrections to find an inmate in a Massachusetts correctional facility using the Inmate Locator. Nor do sheriff offices charge a fee to any member of the public who wants to obtain an inmate’s information.
How to Find Old Inmate Records in Massachusetts
Inmate records created before 2008 are stored by contracted vendors (certified persons or companies), as stated in 103 DOC 156. Records of inmates who have completed their sentences in a state prison or county jail are retained as directed in the J07–01 to 24 of the Massachusetts Statewide Records Retention Schedule. The Department of Corrections and applicable local law enforcement agencies may be contacted during business hours for more information regarding old or outdated inmate records.
How do I Find Inmate Death Records in Massachusetts?
Anyone looking for inmate death records in Massachusetts may contact the facility (prison or jail) where the death took place. Just as there are no specific processes provided to the public on obtaining these records, the law and administrative policies of law enforcement/corrections agencies do not outline any eligibility criteria.
How do I Conduct a Federal Prison Inmate Search?
Searches for a federal inmate may be conducted with the Inmate Locator provided by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Any inmate that was imprisoned from 1982 to present in a federal penitentiary may be found with the inmate’s name or BOP, FBI, DCDC, or INS number. The result of a search yields an inmate’s name, BOP register number, age, race, gender, projected release date, and current location in a prison facility. Older records of inmates from 1982 and earlier are obtainable from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website.
How Long Does it Take For An Inmate’s Information to Be Published in Massachusetts Inmate Locator?
The Department of Corrections does not state the frequency by which the Inmate Locator is updated or how long it will take before an inmate’s information is available on the locator once processing is completed.