San Diego Central Jail

When a loved one is arrested and taken into police custody in San Diego it is important to know where they are going, how to reach them, and the steps necessary to secure their release.

The San Diego Central Jail is the main hub for booking, processing, and holding men who are arrested in San Diego. Women arrested in San Diego County are generally booked and processed at the Vista Detention Center or Las Colinas Detention Center. As experienced San Diego criminal defense attorneys, we often get questions from clients and their family members about this San Diego detention facility.

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you if your loved one is arrested in San Diego County. Do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj for additional information about the San Diego Central Jail.

Who is Brought to and Held at the San Diego Central Jail?

The San Diego Central Jail is the primary booking center for all men arrested in San Diego. This means that men who are arrested in San Diego are brought to the Central Jail, booked, and processed. It is a maximum security facility because it processes and houses inmates regardless of the severity of the crime they are accused of committing. Most inmates are then transferred to other detention centers in San Diego County. However, some inmates are held at the San Diego Central Jail. Inmates who may be held at the San Diego County Jail include:

  1. Inmates who have been arrested and are waiting to post bail;
  2. Inmates who have been arrested and are being released on their own recognizance;
  3. Inmates who are waiting to appear for their arraignment hearing;
  4. Inmates awaiting trial;
  5. Inmates involved in highly publicized and/or controversial trials;
  6. Inmates under medical or psychological observation or treatment.

The San Diego Central Jail also houses inmates who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve time in a county jail.

The San Diego Central Jail Location:

1173 Front Street
San Diego, CA 92101

How Do I Get Information About an Inmate at the San Diego Central Jail?

Phone: You can get information about inmates held at the San Diego Central Jail by directly calling the facility by phone at 619-615-2700.

Web: Alternatively, you can locate an inmate on the San Diego Sheriff’s Department website in a section entitled “Who’s in Jail?” Information about current cases – including dates for hearings and trials – can be found on the San Diego County court case information site.

How Can I Get a Family Member Out of the San Diego Jail?

If a family member is being held at the San Diego Central Jail they may be required to post bail before they can be released from the facility. It is often helpful to have family members or friends help with this process. The San Diego Central Jail will allow you to post bail in one of four ways: cash or personal check, cashier’s check, money order, or bail bond.

  1. Cash: If bail is less than $10,000 you may pay by cash or personal check. The bail amount must be paid in full.
  2. Cashier’s Check: Bank-drawn cashier’s checks may be used to pay an inmate’s bail. The bail amount must be paid in full. The inmate will be held until the cashier’s check and funds are verified.
  3. Money Order: The San Diego Central Jail will only accept money orders drawn from a bank, Western Union, or the United States Postal Service. The bail amount must be paid in full.
  4. Bail Bond: Alternatively, you can contact a San Diego Bail Bondsman and ask for assistance to secure the release of an inmate. A bail bondsman will post the bail amount on your behalf in return for (approximately) 10% of the bail amount. The 10% is the bail bondsman’s fee and is nonrefundable. You can get a better bail bond rate if you work with a local San Diego criminal defense attorney.

How Do I Contact an Inmate at the San Diego Jail?

Inmates held at the San Diego Jail may be reached by phone, snail mail, or e-mail.

Phone: Inmates who are held at the San Diego Central Jail may not receive incoming phone calls. Instead, they are awarded at least three phone calls when they are first processed: one to their attorney, one to a bail bondsman, and one to a friend or family member. An inmate who wishes to make additional calls must place those calls collect or purchase a prepaid calling card. A prepaid calling card can be purchased by friends or family members or at the jail commissary using personal jail debit account.

The San Diego Jail uses phone services provided by Public Communications Services (PCS). You can contact PCS directly to fund a prepaid phone account for an inmate. PCS can be reached by phone at 888-288-9879 or by email at Alternatively, you can visit the PCS website for more information or to fund an account.

Postal Service: Inmates are permitted to both send and receive mail. All mail will be searched and scanned by the Central Jail for contraband and safety. Mail that can be sent to inmates include letters and photographs. If you want to send an inmate any books, magazines, or newspapers you must have those items sent directly from reputable online stores (i.e.,, Packages containing illicit materials, pornography, and hardcover materials will not be distributed to inmates. Packages sent from non-reputable sources, independent stores, or individuals will not be distributed to inmates. Your name and address must be on any correspondence you send to an inmate for security purposes.

Inmate’s first and last name
San Diego County Central Jail
1173 Front St
San Diego, CA 92101

E-MailInmates can also be contacted via email. Inmates do not directly have access to the email accounts. Instead, emails are reviewed by jail personnel, printed, and distributed to inmates. Any responses from an inmate will be sent by regular snail mail. E-mail messages cannot contain photographs or attachments and must be limited to one page in length.

When Can I Visit an Inmate at the San Diego Jail?

The San Diego Central Jail has strict visitation guidelines. Inmates are generally permitted two 30-minute visitation sessions each week. Each visit can include a maximum of three visitors. Visits should be scheduled at least one day in advance, but the jail will permit walk-in visitors in most situations. All visitors must arrive at least one hour prior to the scheduled visit or time you wish to see an inmate. If you plan to visit an inmate at the San Diego County Jail be prepared with information about each visitor. Information you will need includes the visitor’s full name, birthdate, address, and contact information. A valid photo ID will be required to enter the jail.

Visits are non-contact and most often take place behind glass. If an inmate is sick the visit will be conducted using a video conferencing system.

You can schedule a time to visit an inmate at the San Diego County Jail by calling the jail’s reservation lines: 760-940-4473, 619-531-3200, or 858-694-3200. Calls can be placed between the hours of 7:30 am and 11:30 am Tuesday through Saturday. Alternatively, you can schedule a visit online at the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Website.

How Do I Get Money to an Inmate at the San Diego Central Jail?

Inmates at the San Diego Central Jail are afforded basic necessities for their health, well-being, and nutrition. However, inmates may purchase additional items at the jail commissary. Items that can be purchased include food and snacks, additional toiletries, underwear, stationery, games, writing instruments, and prepaid phone cards. Inmates use a jail debit account to pay for these items.

You can put money “on the books” for an inmate in one of four ways. All deposits must be less than $100.

  1. Pay in person at a TouchPay kiosk at the jail;
  2. Deposit money online;
  3. Mail a money order to the jail; or
  4. Make a payment over the phone.

Money orders should be made out to the inmate and include their inmate ID number in the memo section. You can call the San Diego Central Jail for more information about putting money on the books for an inmate at 619-615-7200.

What Services are Available to Inmates at the San Diego Jail?

Inmates who are held at the San Diego Central Jail have access to many services, including:

  • Counseling (substance abuse, anger management, domestic violence);
  • Religious services;
  • Continuing education and GED courses;
  • Medical and psychological treatment;
  • Outdoor recreation activities;
  • Entertainment including games, reading materials, cards, and television.

How Do I get my Belongings Back After I am Released?

When you are booked at the San Diego Central jail your personal belongings are cataloged and stored. They will be returned to you when you are released on bail or on your own recognizance. If you do not want to jail to hold your personal belongings you may sign a form which authorizes a friend or family member to take your items.

If you have a loved one who has been arrested in San Diego County you should not hesitate to contact an experienced California criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help to secure bail, get your loved one released, and limit any negative consequences of their arrest. California criminal defense attorney Vikas Bajaj has more than 19 years of experience defending clients in San Diego county against a variety of criminal charges. Contact the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC today to schedule a free consultation.