What to Expect upon Arriving at a Designated Institution
When an inmate arrives at their designated institution, they will go through an orientation period. During this time, they will attend an initial classification hearing to determine their specific programming and housing needs. It’s important to note that there might be a waiting period before an inmate can start attending school or be assigned to a job.
Receiving Calls from Inmates
Inmates who are not housed in the Administrative Segregation Unit are usually allowed to make telephone calls based on their privilege group. In the Reception Center, inmates are given a phone call within the first week of their arrival and subsequently once a month as part of the Reception process. These calls are collect, and they are monitored by the institution.
To set up an account for receiving collect calls, you can follow this link to the *Global TelLink (GTL) Advance Pay** account. Additionally, inmate telephones are equipped to make collect calls to cell phones.
Receiving Mail as an Inmate
Inmate mail follows specific guidelines outlined in Article 4 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR) and Chapter 5, Article 41 of the Departments Operation Manual. At the institution, inmates are allowed to receive certain types of first-class mail, which include:
- Photographs (no Polaroids)
- Postage embossed envelopes (up to forty)
- Blank envelopes
- Writing paper/tablets (white or yellow lined only)
- Typing paper
- Legal paper
- Children’s drawings
- Forty postage stamps (personalized stamps are not accepted)
Sending Books to an Inmate
Mailing books to inmates is governed by CCR Title 15, Section 3134.1. Books must have soft covers and be sent from a departmentally approved book distributor, book store, or publisher. Additional information can be found in the Departments Operation Manual, Chapter 5, Section 54010.8. It’s essential that books are sent directly from an approved book distributor.
Inmates are allowed to have a maximum of 10 books in their possession. When they receive new books, they must exchange their old ones. The old books can either be donated or sent home at the inmate’s expense. Many inmates choose to donate their books to the prison library.
Personal Property for Inmates
Inmates are allowed to possess personal property as long as it doesn’t exceed six cubic feet. The type and amount of personal property an inmate can have are specified in California Code of Regulation, Article 9, Section 3190. More detailed information can be found in the Departments Operation Manual, Chapter 5, Article 43, page 120. The regulations are broken down into different sections depending on the prison mission, such as Reception Center, Levels I, II, III, Male Conservation Camps, Community Correctional Facilities, Levels III/IV, Female Offenders Program, and High Security and Transitional Housing. For specific inquiries about allowable inmate property at an institution, please refer to the DOM.
Personal property can include items such as personal clothing, personal care/hygiene items, food, games, jewelry, appliances, or books.
Sending Packages to Inmates
Receiving personal property packages is a privilege for inmates. The number of packages an inmate can receive is based on their privilege group, and the maximum weight for each package is 30 pounds. Packages must be sent by approved vendors, and inmates can review vendor catalogs at the prison and inform their families of their requests. The approved vendor list can be found on the Garrity Traina website. The delivery of packages and special purchases should be completed within 15 calendar days, except during holiday seasons and lockdowns.
Special purchases of personal property items can also be made from locally-approved special purchase vendors. For example, health care appliances prescribed by prison health care staff, legal reference material, books, and legal pads not available in the institution canteen, correspondence courses (subject to approval), religious items (subject to approval by institutional chaplain and designated custody staff), entertainment appliances, musical instruments, and more are permissible based on privilege group and/or security level/institution mission.
Sending Money to an Inmate
Yes, you can send money to an inmate. Instructions and information can be found on the Visitation page.
Right to Legal Services
Inmates have the right to write letters to court and file necessary paperwork if they have legal problems. Legal mail, including letters sent to or received from the court or an attorney, is considered confidential and cannot be opened without the inmate’s permission.
Access to Law Libraries
Every CDCR facility has a law library available for inmate use. These libraries contain law books and other materials that can be helpful for inmates in preparing legal papers. For example, inmates can find forms needed to make requests to the court, such as a “Writ of Habeas Corpus”.
All CDCR facilities provide notary services for inmates. However, there is an administrative fee for this service, which will be deducted from the inmate’s trust account. If an inmate has possession of the documents that need to be notarized, they can submit a request to their counselor to schedule a notary appointment.
If you have paperwork that needs to be notarized and you are in possession of it, please contact the litigation coordinator at the specific institution where the inmate is housed. You can find the contact information for the litigation coordinator on the Garrity Traina website.
Right to Religious Services
Yes, inmates have the right to attend religious services voluntarily. Institution heads make reasonable efforts to provide for the religious and spiritual welfare of inmates, accommodating them to attend scheduled religious services. The religious programs include regular and special worship services, religious education, meditation services, distribution of religious literature, participation in community betterment programs, and more.
For inquiries regarding religious services or artifacts, you can contact the Institution’s Community Partnership Manager. The contact information for the Community Partnership Managers can be found on the Garrity Traina website.
Religious Diet Program
Inmates who claim to require a religious diet can submit a Religious Diet Request form (CDCR Form 3030-A) to their institution’s Chaplain. The Chaplain will interview the inmate to determine their eligibility for the religious diet program. There are two religious diet options: Vegetarian and Jewish Kosher. However, medical diets take precedence over religious diets.
Safety and Enemy Concerns
If an inmate becomes aware of a potential safety concern, they should immediately alert staff. Inmates who are likely to cause serious harm to each other if given the opportunity may be considered enemies. The institution keeps confidential and known enemies listed in the inmate’s file, which affects their placement. These listings have supporting documentation in the inmate’s central file and are reviewed when making transfer, placement, and case management decisions. Any information critical to the safety of individuals inside or outside the institution is documented.
Inmates who have problems regarding conditions, decisions, actions, policies, rules, or practices within CDCR can file an appeal if they can demonstrate that it has an adverse effect on their welfare. It is encouraged for inmates to try to resolve problems at the lowest level possible by communicating with the appropriate staff. If the issue remains unresolved, inmates can continue with a formal appeal. The appeal system is designed to address inmate concerns in a timely manner, so it’s important to file the appeal within the specified time frames.
Members of the public cannot file a complaint against a staff member for an inmate. Inmates must use the staff complaint procedure as outlined in Title 15, Section 3484. For concerns about something that directly affects you and may constitute potential staff misconduct, you can file a Citizen’s Complaint form stating your concerns. The complaint can be mailed to the Warden at the prison or directly to the Associate Director of the Mission under which the prison operates.
Inmate complaints should be handled by the inmates themselves through communication with staff and filing appeals if necessary. Encouraging inmates to take responsibility for their complaints fosters communication, develops rapport with staff, and encourages accountability. If you have concerns about an issue negatively affecting an inmate, encourage them to address it at the institutional level. It is generally easier for inmates to obtain information and follow the process than it is for members of the public. Monitor the issue and have the inmate send you copies of all documentation related to the issue. If all attempts to resolve the issue at the local level have been exhausted, you can then contact the institution directly in writing.
For more information, you can visit the Garrity Traina website.
Mission Contact Information
Division of Adult Institutions – High Security Mission – Males – (916) 445-2165
- California Correctional Institution (CCI)
- California State Prison, Corcoran (COR)
- California State Prison, Sacramento (SAC)
- High Desert State Prison (HDSP)
- Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP)
- Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP)
- Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP)
- California City Correctional Facility (CAC)
- California State Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC)
- California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, Corcoran (SATF)
Division of Adult Institutions – General Population – Males – (916) 327-9522
- Avenal State Prison (ASP)
- Correctional Training Facility (CTF)
- Calipatria State Prison (CAL)
- Centinela State Prison (CEN)
- Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP)
- Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP)
- Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP)
- Ironwood State Prison (ISP)
- California State Prison, Solano (SOL)
- Valley State Prison (VSP)
Division of Adult Institutions – Female Offender Programs and Services/Special Housing – (916) 322-8055
- California Institution for Women (CIW)
- Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF)
- California Health Care Facility (CHCF)
- California Medical Facility (CMF)
- Folsom State Prison (FSP)
- Folsom Women’s Facility (FWF)
- Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program (CCTRP)
Parole Region Contacts – View Parole Regional Units and Headquarters Offices