In some jurisdictions, an inmate’s release date from custody is considered public information that can be accessed by anyone. Some jails and prisons make this information available online where a search can be done using the inmate’s name or an identification number assigned to the inmate when he or she is taken into custody. An inmate’s release date can also be obtained by calling the facility where the prisoner is serving time, or by writing a letter to ask for information.
Some online databases include a photo of the inmate to help the searcher if several inmates share the same name. Other information, including the inmate’s date of birth and the jurisdiction in which he or she was sentenced, may also be provided to aid those who do not have personal information about the inmate when seeking a release date. A list of crimes committed and the minimum and maximum sentences for each offense are also commonly available through an online inmate search.
It is helpful to know how inmate release dates are calculated to understand the complex way sentences are computed. Inmates might earn a reduction in their sentences for good behavior; they also can lose credit for unacceptable acts while incarcerated. In some institutions, sentences can also be reduced for participation in programs aimed to rehabilitate the offender. In some cases, the inmate release date might be earlier than indicated if the prisoner is deported, sent to a medical facility or released to serve time in another institution for other crimes.
Many facilities that house criminals regularly update information based on credits earned to enable public access to the latest data on an inmate’s release date. The public can usually learn when the inmate is eligible for parole and when parole hearings are scheduled. Results of parole hearings are commonly figured into the inmate’s release date shortly after the parole board meets.
If more than one crime was committed, sentences could run concurrently or consecutively. Concurrent sentences are served at the same time, and the inmate release date reflects that. When the inmate is serving consecutive sentences, he or she must complete the term for one crime before the inmate release date begins applying to subsequent crimes.
Victims of crime are commonly notified of an inmate’s release date as a matter of law in some jurisdictions. They are also told about parole hearing dates and may attend the hearing to give a statement if they choose. These notifications are typically included in laws that protect the rights of crime victims.