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Indiana Commission on Public Records

ICPR > State Archives > Collections > Department of Correction Department of Correction

Index of the Department of Correction Collections

Department of Correction

The records located at the Indiana State Archives have been transferred by the Indiana Department of Correction. For inmates currently in the Correction system please visit the DOC webpage. Information is provided on the current location of adult and juvenile facilities. An Offender Search and information about Victim Notification is also available for the current status of prisoners held or on parole with the state of Indiana. Many County Jails also offer inmate searches and victim notification information on their websites. As an example, Marion County information is available here.

 

Prison South

State Prison South 1822-1897

The first state prison opened in Indiana in 1822 in Jeffersonville. It was later moved to Clarksville, but many still mistakenly refer to it as the Jeffersonville prison. Local residents now know the building as the old Colgate-Palmolive Company. Originally, both men and women were housed in this facility. With the opening of the State Prison North at Michigan City in 1860, the Prison South took only inmates from the southern half of Indiana. In 1897 State Prison South was converted to a Reformatory. The older prisoners and those accused of more severe crimes were sent to the Northern prison. An index to the Descriptive Books of the State Prison South may be searched online at the Indiana Digital Archives. Patrons may contact the State Archives for a copy of an inmate's record from the microfilmed descriptive books at arc@icpr.in.gov 

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A Turnkey Station at Prison North after the turn of the century. Circa 1905.

State Prison North 1860-1897

Due to overcrowded conditions at the State Prison in southern Indiana, a second state prison was opened at Michigan City, Indiana, in 1860. It took prisoners from the northern half of Indiana. In 1897 the northern facility would become the sole State Prison when the Old Prison South was converted to the Reformatory for the younger male prisoners. Older prisoners from the southern prison were sent to the Michigan City facility, which necessitated a new numbering system for prisoners. Therefore patrons should check the State Prison 1897-1966 database as well if the prisoner was there after 1897. Search the online database at the Indiana Digital Archives. Patrons may write for a copy of an inmate's record from the microfilmed descriptive books and original hard copy commitment papers at arc@icpr.in.gov

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Early prison mugshot scanned from glass negative.

State Prison 1897-1966

When the State Prison South was converted to a Reformatory, older prisoners were sent to the Northern prison. At this time all prisoners were assigned new numbers and mug shots were taken. A general database of the inmate record books ranging from 1897-1966 may be searched online. In addition to the entries in the inmate record books,  samples of prisoner packets, warden packets, and commitment packets are available. A large collection of mug shots are also available, particularly for the first nine thousand prisoners. Patrons will be informed of the availability of additional information, which will vary for each prisoner.  Additionally, there is a Board of State Charities and Correction card index, and a commitment index, which may provide information regarding family members and the nature of the crime and sentence. Archives staff will check these indices for patrons. For Life Prisoners, check the Indiana Life Prisoner database. Email us at arc@icpr.in.gov

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Reward Poster from the Boy's School. There are very few mug shots for the Boys' School.

Boys' School 1867-1937

The 1867 Indiana General Assembly created the House of Refuge for Juvenile Offenders. Governor Conrad Baker selected the site, located on 225 acres of land in Plainfield, Hendricks County, Indiana. The name changed in 1883 to the Indiana Reform School for Boys, and again in 1903 to the Indiana Boys’ School. Judges from any criminal or circuit court in Indiana could commit juvenile males charged with crimes, incorrigibility, or delinquency. The function of the school was to reform juvenile offenders through education and vocational training.

This database contains approximately 12,700 names of male juveniles committed to the Indiana Boys’ School between 1867 and 1937. Names of boys committed after 1937 are not online for reasons of confidentiality. The database was compiled from admission registers, inmate packets, commitment books and other sources. Information entered in the database includes the inmate’s name, inmate number, county of conviction, and date received at the Boys’ School. Aliases and other information may be found in the notes field.

Additional information is available at the Indiana State Archives for many Boys’ School inmates whose names appear here. There are inmate packets for most inmates, as well as entries in the commitment books, medical record cards, and index cards prepared by the Board of State Charities and Correction. Researchers should contact the Indiana State Archives at arc@icpr.in.gov to learn what records are available on an inmate and to order reproductions of documents. 

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Girls' School mug shots were less formal.

Girls' School 1873-1935

Originally housed with adult female inmates at the “Reform School for Girls and Women’s Prison” in Indianapolis, a separate institution for girls was created in 1899 and known as the “Indiana Industrial School for Girls.” The facility was renamed the Indiana Girls’ School in 1907 and moved to a new campus at Clermont in Marion County.

An index to juvenile female offenders, beginning September 12, 1873 through 1935, is searchable at the Indiana Digital Archives. Information listed in the database may include the girl’s name, age, the county from which she was committed, and date of admission. A date of discharge and other information may be shown. There is additional information available on many of the inmates at the Indiana State Archives, including commitment papers, inmate packets, personal letters, and other paperwork. There are photographs of many of the early inmates.

Names of juvenile females admitted between 1936 and 1984 are not online for reasons of confidentiality. Researchers will need to contact the Indiana State Archives at arc@icpr.in.gov to determine if a record exists for girls admitted after 1935.

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Like the Girls' School, Women's Prison mug shots were less formal.

Women's Prison 1873-1969

The Indiana Women’s Prison opened in Indianapolis on October 8, 1873. The first seventeen inmates were brought from the State Prison South at Jeffersonville, where they had been housed in a separate wing from male inmates. Known initially as the Indiana Reformatory Institution for Women and Girls, the name changed in 1889 to the Reform School for Girls and Woman’s Prison. Ten years later the two departments were separated into the Industrial School for Girls and the Indiana Woman’s Prison. In 1907 juvenile female offenders were moved to the newly opened Indiana Girls’ School at Clermont and its space occupied by the Correctional Department of the Indiana Women’s Prison (IWP). To this department were committed women misdemeanants over the age of eighteen. (Male misdemeanants of age were sent to the State Farm. See below.) The Women’s Prison proper received women over eighteen convicted of a felony.

A searchable database at the Indiana Digital Archives contains approximately 19,500 names of women committed to the Indiana Women’s Prison between 1873 and 1969. It was compiled from inmate record books kept by the IWP. Information entered in this database includes the prisoner’s name, race, county of conviction, crime, term of sentence and/or fine, sentence date, and the date(s) of discharge, parole, pardon, or death. When applicable, the notes field includes information on transfers to other institutions, aliases, maiden/married names, escapes, and previous convictions or paroles.

The inmate record books also contain family history and other information not included in this database because of space limitations. Additionally, there are admission cards, commitment papers, prisoner packets, occasional photographs, and other records for some prisoners. Researchers should contact the Indiana State Archives at arc@icpr.in.gov to learn what records are available on an inmate and to order reproductions of documents. 

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Indiana State Reformatory

State Prison South was converted into the Indiana State Reformatory in 1897 when it was decided to create a more positive environment for younger prisoners accused of less serious offenses, but too old for the Boys' School. This reorganization resulted in prisoners over the age of thirty, or those with previous felonies or a capital offense, being sent to the northern facility at Michigan City. The southern prison became a reformatory with rehabilitation as the chief objective for prisoners aged sixteen through thirty. The inmates had the opportunity to learn a trade or finish their education, hopefully turning their lives in a positive direction. Although some prisoners were able to take advantage of these opportunities, others fell victim to the more negative aspects of prison life. Dr. Harry Sharp started the practice of sterilization at the Reformatory in 1898, helping to bring Indiana to the forefront of the Eugenics movement. For more information on Eugenics visit the online "Fit to Breed" Exhibit.

In 1922 the Reformatory move to Pendleton, Indiana. Some of the more famous residents have included John Dillinger and several of his gang members. A database for the Reformatory for the period covering 1897 through 1923 is nearing completion and is expected to go online in 2014. Additionally, the Board of State Charities and Correction Card Index offers additional information.

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State Farm

The State Farm was built in 1914 and 1915 by prisoners from the State Prison and Reformatory for the purpose of housing male misdemeanants. It was located on 1,892 acres of land one mile west of Putnamville and seven miles south of Greencastle. It opened officially, April 12, 1915 as an industrial farm colony, meaning that the prisoners actually farmed the land for their own sustenance and income for the state. Men over the age of sixteen, convicted of misdemeanors by circuit, superior, criminal or city courts, could be sentenced to the State Farm rather than a county jail or workhouse. (Adult female misdemeanants were sent to the Correctional Department of the Indiana Women's Prison.) Sparse early samples of some of the prisoner packets survive. A database of these records will go online at the Indiana Digital Archives mid 2014. Additionally, occasional cards may be found in the Board of State Charities  and Correction Index. A set of "IN and OUT" books are also available for research, however, the patron must already know the time the inmate entered the facility in order to glean  the limited information these books offer. Valuable information on inmates may be found in microfilmed reports of the Board of State Charities located in the Archives Reading Room. These monthly reports range in date from 1915 through 1931, providing lists of inmates who were admitted and discharged.

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Hospital for Insane Criminals, Indiana State Prison, Michigan City (1909-1945)

The Indiana Hospital for Insane Criminals was authorized by the Indiana General Assembly in 1909 and opened on the grounds of the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City on October 19, 1912.  It housed convicted criminals who were adjudged insane and persons indicted or acquitted because of insanity.   The criminally insane from the entire state were incarcerated here.  The inmates were transferred in 1954 to the newly opened Maximum Security Division of the  Dr. Norman M. Beatty Memorial Hospital. The Beatty Hospital was converted to Westville Correctional Center in 1979.

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Pardon and Paroles

The first set of  Secretary of State Petitions begin in the early 1800’s and end around the time of the Civil War. The database for these records is searchable online at the Indiana Digital Archives. Citizens frequently wrote to the governor attempting to gain pardons, paroles, reprieves, commutations of sentences, or remissions of fines for crimes ranging from swearing to murder. This early 19th century collection provides just a sample of the types of records that might be found in a larger collection, yet to be indexed, which spans the last half of the 19th and early part of the 20th century. Patrons may request information regarding copy fees  for either collection through email at arc@icpr.in.gov. Prisoner records from the state correctional facilities will often indicate if a prisoner received a pardon or early parole.

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