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What Are Montana Inmate Records?

A Montana inmate record is a document that contains official information about a person incarcerated in the state. Inmate records confirm that the persons named on the records are either awaiting trial for certain crimes or have received a conviction as part of a court’s final disposition.

Inmate records are created by the facility where the individual is held. Generally, the information contained on a Montana inmate record includes the following:

  • Montana Department of Corrections ID number
  • Full name and all known aliases
  • Current status
  • Booking photograph
  • Last status change
  • Gender
  • Physical and demographic descriptors such as hair and eye color, height, weight, build, race, skin tone, and whether or the inmate is left or right-handed
  • Year of birth
  • Birthplace
  • Citizenship
  • Residency
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Legal record for each offense, such as a docket number, county, the judge that handled the case, sentence type, offense information, offense date, sentence date, and sentence length

According to the Montana Public Records Law, the state’s inmate records are considered public records. This means that anyone may gain access to inmate records at the state or county levels. However, state law allows record custodians to restrict access to inmate records that may:

  • Contain information where individual privacy interest visibly exceeds any advantages of public disclosure
  • Contain information that relates to an individual or public safety.
  • Disclose health care records
  • Disclose education records

Note that sealed or expunged inmate records are unavailable to the general public.

How To Find An Inmate In Montana?

In Montana, inmate records are available online from the Montana Department of Corrections (MDOC). Interested persons may use the offender search to find past and present Montana inmates. Using the offender search function requires the requestor to provide one of the following queries:

  • Inmate’s first name
  • Inmate’s last name
  • Inmates MDOC ID number

After entering any of the above, the search result provides a list of inmates that match the inputted queries. Each one provides information about the inmate, including a full name, DOC ID number, gender, and the last update for the displayed details. Requestors may also view the inmate’s physical and demographic descriptors, as well as detailed information of each charge and sentence.

Inmate records may also be available at city and county levels from their respective jails or detention centers. For example, the Yellowstone County Detention Center provides a search page where interested persons may find incarcerated inmates. Requestors may use the inmate’s last name or first name. The platform also allows requestors to view a full list of all county inmates. Missoula County also provides a daily inmate jail roster where interested persons may access information on county inmates.

How To Find A Federal Inmate In Montana?

Requestors may find information on inmates in federal facilities from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The BOP provides an online inmate locator where interested persons may search for federal inmates by name or by number. To search by name, provide the first, middle, and last names of the inmate. The name search also allows requestors to filter their searches by the inmate’s race, age, and search.

A number search is also available, which allows requestors to find inmates using one of the following numbers:

  • BOP register number
  • District of Columbia Department of Corrections (DCDC) number
  • Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) number
  • Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) number

The search result shows the inmate’s full name, BOP register number, age, race, and sex. It also shows the inmate’s current location and a release date where applicable. Note that inmate records available on the BOP’s platform might change periodically. The First Step Act enables periodic reviews of inmate sentences, sometimes resulting in a sentence reduction.

Requestors should also note that information on the BOP’s database is restricted to inmate records that date back to 1982. Persons interested in inmate records before 1982 may contact the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA records contain information on inmates as listed below:

  • United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas (1895—1931)
  • Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, California (1934 - 1963)
  • Atlanta Federal Penitentiary (1902—1921)
  • McNeil Island
  • Fort Smith, Arkansas (1866—1900)

Interested persons may reach out to NARA using its contact page. Requestors may also send NARA a written request with details on the inmate. The request should include the following:

  • Full name, initials and all available aliases
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Estimated age at the time of incarceration
  • Date of the prison sentence, or approximate date during which the inmate was in prison

Enclose the request and send by mail to:

The National Archives and Records Administration

8601 Adelphi Road

College Park, MD 20740–6001

Phone: (866) 272–6272

How Do I Find Inmate Records In Montana?

Requestors interested in obtaining physical copies of an inmate record may directly contact the Montana Department of Corrections. Making a request requires providing detailed information on the inmate. This information may include the inmate’s full name, date of birth, race, gender, information on charges, the county of charge, and any known conviction or sentencing details. Interested persons may request online or by mail.

To request online, fill the MDOC’s contact form. The form requires the requestor’s full name and contact information, including a phone number and an email address. In the “Message” box, provide as many details of the desired records as available.

To request via mail, send a written request with all known details on the inmate. The request should also contain the requestor’s contact information. Enclose the request and send to:

Montana Department of Corrections

5 South Last Chance Gulch Street

PO Box 201301

Helena, MT 59620—1301

Phone: 406–444–3930

Fax: 406–444–4920

For records on inmates in county or city jails, requestors may directly contact the sheriff’s office or police department with jurisdiction over the facility. Note that varying fees may apply depending on the facility.

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 a specific or multiple record(s). 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 the person resides in or was accused in

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How To Put Money On Jail Inmates Book In Montana?

Inmates in Montana are not allowed to carry any cash while in detention. However, inmates may receive funds from family and friends through individual trust accounts. Depositors may fund inmate trust accounts online or by mail. Note that the Montana Department of Corrections allows inmates only to receive funds from the following people:

  • The inmate’s attorney
  • Immediate family members already on the inmate’s approved visiting list
  • A non-family member approved by the warden or a designee. Note, an inmate may change an approved non-family member only once in six months.

Family and friends that wish to deposit funds online may do so through the Inmate Trust Account Deposits service. Depositors must first create an account by providing personal information, including a first name, last name, daytime phone number, and an email address. The depositor should also provide a username and a password. Completing the process requires selecting and answering three security questions among the available options.

Online deposits require a credit or debit card. Also, creating an account requires the last four digits of the depositor’s social security number. Depositors with queries, including persons without social security numbers, may email the Montana State Prison (for male inmates) or the Montana Women’s Prison. Note that there is a $250 transaction limit for each transaction. Also, the online method only serves inmates at the following facilities:

  • Montana State Prison
  • Montana Women’s Prison
  • Crossroads Correctional Center
  • Cascade County Regional Prison
  • Dawson County Correctional Facility

To deposit funds via mail, use a cashier’s check or a US Postal Service money order as the MDOC does not entertain personal checks. The check or money order must contain the inmate’s full name, MDOC number, the depositor’s full name, and the depositor’s address. Note that the envelope containing the money order or cashier’s check should be postmarked from the immediate area where the depositor resides. 

Persons interested in funding an inmate’s account in a county or city jail may directly contact the facility. Alternatively, contact the sheriff’s office or police department with jurisdiction over the facility.

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