South Carolina Court Records
Where to Find South Carolina Inmate Records
The correctional system in South Carolina puts specific agencies in charge of inmate records after the judiciary convicts the offender. At the county level, the County Sheriff Office, which is in charge of county jails, creates and maintains records of detainees and inmates within its jurisdiction. On the other hand, the South Carolina Department of Corrections oversees all correctional facilities, but it only maintains publicly available records on inmates in state prisons. Similarly, federal prisons in South Carolina are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Are Incarceration Records Public Information in South Carolina?
Yes, the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act allows public access to non-confidential non-sensitive inmate records.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, 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 document or person involved
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.
What Information is Contained in a South Carolina Inmate Record?
A general feature of inmate records in the state, regardless of the custodian, is that inmate records contain the following information:
- Full legal name
- Date of birth
- Physical description
- Inmate ID number
- Sentence history
- Facility of incarceration
Where do I Look Up an Inmate in South Carolina?
Looking up incarcerated persons in South Carolina depends on the inmate’s location, the facility’s public request policy, and personal preference. Generally, the available methods in South Carolina include:
- An in-person visit to the administrative office
- Mail request
- Online search
How Do I Conduct an Inmate Search in South Carolina?
- In-person visits:
Unit correctional facilities in South Carolina are responsible for maintaining inmate records. If a person suspects that another person has been detained or incarcerated, the first step in finding an inmate is to find information on the facility. Knowing the facility goes a long way, as one can easily confirm the existence of an inmate online before visiting the facility. Many times, online information suffices for most purposes.
If there is a need to visit the inmate, the requester must visit the Sheriff’s Office or the county jail. A simple web search will furnish interested individuals with the address and contact information of the correctional facility.
Note that requesters who prefer in-person inquiry at the local jail or state prison must abide by the facility visitation rules. While these rules differ from county to county, all visitors must be well dressed and possess a government-issued photo I. D. Furthermore, visitors must be on the inmate visitation list and schedule a visit at least twenty-four hours in advance. The SCDC maintains a directory of correctional facilities in the state.
- Mail requests:
Interested persons may request and obtain publicly available records from all correctional facilities in the state. However, confidential records, and records that contain sensitive information, are exempted from public disclosure. Bypassing records restrictions involve submitting a court order or making a direct appeal to the record custodian. If the latter is successful, the record custodian will redact sensitive information before providing the documents.
To find an inmate record, submit an FOIA request to the incarcerating agency. At the county level, the agency is the Sheriff’s Office. At the state level, the agency is the SCDC FOIA Coordinator. The written request must include a simple description of the requested information, the inmate, and the requester’s contact information. Send the request by mail or email to:
Office of General Counsel
South Carolina Department of Corrections
P. O. Box 21787
Columbia, SC 29221–1787
Bear in mind that FOIA requests may require requesters to make deposits for nominal fees incurred in the reproduction or certification of a record. Generally, the South Carolina Department of Corrections charges $0.25 a page as well as $25.92 per hour of search, retrieval, and redaction of records (Section 30–4–30(b))..
- Online requests
Finding an inmate in a state correctional facility is straightforward, as the interested individual can use the SCDC Offender Locator to find an inmate. However, a drawback is that it may take several business days for inmate information from state prisons to reflect on this database.
To use the Locator, the searcher must know the inmate’s full name or SCDC I. D. Upon query, the database returns search results based on the parameter used. As the I. D. is unique to every inmate, it is the best search parameter to eliminate multiple search results. Clicking on a search result displays further information on the inmate. For local jails, the requester must search for the official inmate roster. This information is typically available on the local law enforcement website. For example, Horry County maintains an online Booking List, and Greenville County maintains an online inmate roster.
How Can I Find an Inmate for Free in South Carolina?
Submit a direct appeal for a fee waiver to the record custodian. In most cases, the record custodian will grant the fee waiver if the requester demonstrates that the record is in the public best interests and for non-commercial purposes. Otherwise, the requester must bear the cost of searching, reproducing, and certifying a public record.
How to Find Old Inmate Records in South Carolina
Parties can send a request by mail to the Department of Corrections to find old inmate records in South Carolina. If the records are available and subject to public disclosure, the agency shall respond with instructions and other requirements. If the inmate record is unavailable, the Department of Corrections shall direct the requester to the appropriate record custodian.
Historical inmate records are available on the National Archives. The searcher must know the name of the inmate of interest and perform a search using the surname. Another useful database for historical inmate records is the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.
How do I Find Inmate Death Records in South Carolina?
Send a record request to the Department of Corrections following the instructions above. The Department of Corrections must also report the death of an inmate to the Department of Health. The requester may also request death records from the Department of Health. However, note that death records only become public records after fifty years. Pending this time limitation, the requester must demonstrate concrete interests in the death record.
How do I Conduct a Federal Prison Inmate Search?
A federal inmate and records relating to his/her incarceration are within the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) jurisdiction. Finding an inmate in one of the several federal correctional facilities can be accomplished with the BOP Inmate locator. The BOP Locator is a central repository containing information on inmates incarcerated as far back as 1982.
The searcher only needs to use the offender’s unique BOP number or full name to query this database. If there are multiple search results, using the inmate’s race, age, and sex lets the searcher sift the results. To find records on inmates incarcerated before 1982, visit the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website. There, the searcher will have access to a database of inmate information from 1870 to 1981.
How Long Does it Take For An Inmate’s Information to Be Published in South Carolina Inmate Locator?
It depends on several factors. Information on inmates from local jails typically reflect on the inmate roster after midnight. For state prison inmate locators, this may take a few business days due to staff availability and the state of technology in the facility.