Ginny’s Ge­nealog­i­cal Gems

Pris­ons and Jails -Apos­si­ble link to fam­ily his­tory

Serve Daily - - LIBERTY SHALL BE MAINTAINED - By Ginny Ack­er­son

Jails are lo­cally-op­er­ated short term fa­cil­i­ties that hold both in­mates await­ing trial or sen­tenc­ing or both, and those sen­tenced to a term of less than one year, typ­i­cally mis­de­meanants. Pris­ons are longer- term fa­cil­i­ties run by the state or the fed­eral govern­ment typ­i­cally hold­ing felons and per­sons with sen­tences of more than one year. Many records for the res­i­dents of these in­sti­tu­tions are restricted. Some ju­ris­dic­tions al­low ac­cess if the in­mate is dead or the records are older than a set amount of years. Records can be found in State archives or li­braries, his­tor­i­cal and ge­nealog­i­cal so­ci­eties, ex­tracted and posted by in­di­vid­u­als or in in­sti­tu­tional archives. Many records have been de­stroyed be­cause of stor­age is­sues or in­sti­tu­tional poli­cies.

In 1891, the Fed­eral govern­ment es­tab­lished the Fed­eral Prison Sys­tem con­sist­ing of three pris­ons lo­cated in Leav­en­worth, KS; At­lanta, GA and McNeil Is­land., WA. Now there are 147 in­sti­tu­tions in the Fed­eral Prison Sys­tem. Some, like McNeil Is­land, have been closed but their records still ex­ist. To get the records you will need to go through NARA. Some records are restricted to be­fore 75 years ago and more re­cent records may be ob­tained if you have proof of death, but may have some in­for­ma­tion redacted. Some in­dexes of in­mates are on­line at and at­ces­ You may find the fol­low­ing types of records: En­try photo or mug shot, record sheet which con­tains in­mate name and num­ber, crime and sen­tence and vi­o­la­tions; per­sonal data sheet con­tain­ing birth date and place, par­ents and spouse, per­ma­nent ad­dress, re­li­gion, ed­u­ca­tion, vices and more; fin­ger­print card, daily work record de­tail­ing what the in­mate did while they were in prison; hos­pi­tal record which has their ill­nesses and treat­ments.; physi­cian’s in­take exam in­clud­ing weight, height and use of to­bacco and liquor; cor­re­spon­dence logs con­tain­ing who he cor­re­sponded with, their ad­dress and their re­la­tion­ship; any per­sonal cor­re­spon­dence; trusty pris­oner agree­ment (an agree­ment be­tween the in­mate and the in­sti­tu­tion that al­lowed the pris­oner to work out­side of the prison once proved trust­wor­thy; a copy of the court sen­tence; fam­ily sto­ries and cor­re­spon­dence; and a so­cial in­ter­view as it was felt at one time that crim­i­nals evolved from their so­cial sit­u­a­tion so they took all the de­tails they could about the in­mate’s back­ground.

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