Inmates incarcerated in California may receive allowable items from anyone who is not currently incarcerated, or anyone who has not been released within the past year. Anyone wishing to send an inmate a letter may do so, but the letter cannot contain anything that potential can put the safety and the security of the institution in jeopardy. This would include letters that talk about escape, planning a criminal act, coded messages, hand drawn or printed maps, gang communications, or photos of a nude/sexual nature.
Inmates may receive up to 10 pages at a time, the pages can be drawings, a child’s school work, articles cut from a newspaper or magazine, but may not contain glue, stickers, glitter or any other embellishments such as lipstick perfume etc.
Inmates can have up to 10 photographs per envelope. The photos can be as large as 8″x10″ but must not contain nudity, hand gestures, tattoos, or anything illegal or gang related. Whenever sending photos to an inmate it is a good idea to write the inmates name and ID number in pen on the reverse side of the photo. This will help ensure the photos are delivered to the right inmate.
Inmates are also allowed to receive cards, but they must not contain electronics, nudity or anything offensive in nature.
California prison inmates looking for pen pals
All mail is opened and inspected, sometimes read. At no time may you send any other items to an inmate directly from you. Inmates can receive books, magazines and newspapers but they must come directly from an approved source, we will give more information about how you can send these things to an inmate below.
When you write to an inmate you must always include your complete return address, and you must format your mail in the following manner:
Inmate Name, CDCR Number
Housing information (if known)
PO Box or Street address
City, State, zip code
Please note the CDCR Number is the California Department of Corrections Number. Usually mail is delivered within seven days of it arriving at the facility, but certain circumstances such as a lockdown or a large influx of mail during holidays can slow down delivery.
California inmates can also receive packages that can contain food, hygiene, and electronic items from an approved third party vendor (Union Supply Direct, or Access Securpak just to name a few). Not all inmates will qualify for these package and certain restrictions can apply.
California inmates are also allowed to receive new soft cover books directly from a publisher such as Amazon.com. You can also order magazines and newspapers from Amazon.com but there are restrictions on the content. None of the content in books, magazines or newspapers can contain maps, incite hate or violence, or have any type of nudity.
CDCR operates 35 adult prisons in California, with a design capacity of 85,083 incarcerated people. CDCR both owns and operates 34 of the state prisons; it additionally operates California City Correctional Facility, a prison leased from CoreCivic.
CDCR operates a variety of other incarceration facilities, including fire camps and California Division of Juvenile Justice facilities. For more information on the totality of jurisdictions and facilities involved in incarceration in California, see Incarceration in California. For more information on the history, conditions, and demographics of California’s prison system specifically, see Prisons in California.
|Prison||Acronym||County||Opened||Reception center?||Reentry hub?||Design capacity||Incarcerated population||Percent occupied||Notes|
|Avenal State Prison||ASP||Kings||1987||Yes||2,920||4,197||143.7%|
|California City Correctional Facility||CAC||Kern||2013||2,304||2,081||90.3%||This facility is owned by and leased from CoreCivic. It is staffed and operated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.|
|California Correctional Center||CCC||Lassen||1963||Yes||3,883||4,064||104.7%|
|California Correctional Institution||CCI||Kern||1954||2,783||3,516||126.3%||Opened in 1954 on the site of the former California Institute for Women, which opened in 1932 and closed in 1952 after the 1952 Kern County earthquake.|
|California Health Care Facility||CHCF||San Joaquin||2013||2,951||2,751||93.2%||Opened in 2013 on the site of the former Karl Holton Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Center, which opened in 1968 and closed in 2003 as part of consolidation efforts in response to a decline in youth incarceration.|
|California Institution for Men||CIM||San Bernardino||1941||Yes||Yes||2,976||3,357||112.8%|
|California Institution for Women||CIW||Riverside||1952||Yes||Yes||1,398||1,553||111.1%||The original California Institution for Women was opened in 1932 on the site of the current California Correctional Institution. That facility was closed in 1952 after the 1952 Kern County earthquake, and the women incarcerated in that facility were moved to the current CIW location, which had just opened.|
|California Medical Facility||CMF||Solano||1955||2,361||2,396||101.5%|
|California Men’s Colony||CMC||San Luis Obispo||1954||Yes||Yes||3,838||3,727||97.1%|
|California Rehabilitation Center||CRC||Riverside||1962||Yes||2,491||3,341||134.1%||The facility, formerly a Naval hospital, was donated by the federal government in 1962. Women were incarcerated at CRC until 2007.|
|California State Prison, Centinela||CEN||Imperial||1993||2,308||3,284||142.3%|
|California State Prison, Corcoran||COR||Kings||1988||3,116||3,719||119.4%|
|California State Prison, Los Angeles County||LAC||Los Angeles||1993||Yes||2,300||3,158||137.3%|
|California State Prison, Sacramento||SAC||Sacramento||1986||1,828||2,363||129.3%|
|California State Prison, Solano||SOL||Solano||1984||2,610||3,752||143.8%|
|California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, Corcoran||SATF||Kings||1997||Yes||3,424||4,844||141.5%|
|Calipatria State Prison||CAL||Imperial||1992||2,308||2,935||127.2%|
|Central California Women’s Facility||CCWF||Madera||1990||Yes||Yes||2,004||2,640||131.7%||California’s only death row for women is at CCWF.|
|Chuckawalla Valley State Prison||CVSP||Riverside||1988||1,738||2,324||133.7%|
|Correctional Training Facility||CTF||Monterey||1948||Yes||3,312||4,801||145.0%|
|Deuel Vocational Institution||DVI||San Joaquin||1953||Yes||1,681||2,047||121.8%|
|Folsom State Prison||FSP||Sacramento||1880||Yes for women||2,066 men, 403 women||2,694 men, 276 women||130.4% capacity (men’s facilities), 68.5% capacity (women’s facilities)||FSP is the only California State Prison currently housing men and women.|
|High Desert State Prison||HDSP||Lassen||1995||Yes||2,324||3,286||141.4%|
|Ironwood State Prison||ISP||Riverside||1994||Yes||2,200||3,203||145.6%|
|Kern Valley State Prison||KVSP||Kern||2005||2,448||3,534||144.4%|
|Mule Creek State Prison||MCSP||Amador||1987||3,284||3,948||120.2%|
|North Kern State Prison||NKSP||Kern||1993||Yes||2,694||3,630||134.7%|
|Pelican Bay State Prison||PBSP||Del Norte||1989||2,380||2,608||109.6%|
|Pleasant Valley State Prison||PVSP||Fresno||1994||2,308||3,062||132.7%|
|Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility||RJD||San Diego||1987||Yes||2,992||3,806||127.2%|
|Salinas Valley State Prison||SVSP||Monterey||1996||2,452||2,877||117.3%|
|San Quentin State Prison||SQ||Marin||1852||Yes||Not formally designated, but has substantial reentry programming||3,082||3,776||122.5%||California’s only death row for men is at San Quentin. The prison was constructed by incarcerated men on the Waban, a ship anchored in San Francisco Bay and California’s first|