Office of the Ombudsman
General Information Upon Arrival to Endorsed Institution
What can an inmate expect upon arriving at their designated institution?
Upon arrival the inmate will begin an orientation period during which he/she will attend an initial classification hearing to determine the appropriate programming and housing needs for that particular inmate. There can be a waiting period until an inmate can begin to attend school or be assigned to a job.
Can I receive calls from inmates?
Yes, inmates not housed in the Administrative Segregation Unit may make telephone calls, depending on their privilege group. Inmates in the Reception Center are given a phone call within the first week and every month thereafter as part of the Reception process. These calls will be made collect to the account the family sets up, and are monitored by the institution.
To set up an account to receive the collect calls, follow this link: Global Tel*Link (GTL) Advance Pay account. In addition, inmate telephones will be able to make collect calls to cell phones.
Can an inmate receive mail?
Inmate mail is addressed in Article 4 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR) and Chapter 5, Article 41 (Page 94) of the Departments Operation Manual.
The inmate may receive the following first class mail at the institution:
- Photographs (no Polaroid)
- Postage embossed envelopes, maximum of forty
- Blank envelopes
- Writing paper/tablets (white or yellow lined only - no cotton papers)
- Typing paper (no cotton paper)
- Legal paper
- Children's drawings
- Forty postage stamps (personalized postage stamps will not be accepted)
Can I send books to an inmate?
CCR Title 15 Section 3134.1 covers the mailing in of books. Books must be soft covered and sent from a departmentally approved book distributor, book store or publisher. Additional information may be located in DOM, Chapter 5, Section 54010.8. Books must be sent in directly from a book distributor.
Inmates may have only 10 books in their possession. When they receive new books, they must turn in their old ones. These old books must be donated or sent home at the inmate's expense. Most inmates donate their books to the library, etc.
Most families use Barnes and Noble or one of the other departmentally approved vendors. A departmentally approved vendor is any publisher, book store, or book distributor that does mail order business. Please note that Amazon is now a departmentally approved vendor for books. If you are having a book sent in from a college or some other non-traditional book distributor, please check with the prison first.
Book shipments are not considered Quarterly Packages or Special Purchases. There is no limit per quarter on book shipments; the only restriction is that inmates may have no more than 10 books in their possession at any one time. If your inmate can read 10 books a week, then you may send in 10 books a week! Of course, R&R may be backed up, and he/she may not get them every week.....so be careful about getting backed up!!
When you send in a box of books from a distributor, it comes into the mailroom. The mailroom staff sorts all the different packages out, and sends them to the various departments. Books go to R&R and are logged in there. They go through R&R because books are considered 'personal property'. The inmate will receive a 'ducat' to go to R&R, where he/she will be able to pick up the books and trade in his/her old ones. This process may take some time. Whenever the mail gets backed up, R&R also tends to get backed up. This is especially true during holidays, lockdowns, etc.
Can an inmate have personal property?
Every inmate is allowed to have personal property as long as they adhere to the requirement of having no more than six cubic feet of property. The type and amount of personal property an inmate may have is covered in California Code of Regulation, Article 9, beginning with section 3190. The personal property is identified in more detail in the Departments Operations Manual, Chapter 5, Article 43 page 120. This article is broken into prison missions, Reception Center (section 54030.17), Levels I, II, III, Male Conservation Camps and Community Correctional Facilities (section 54030.18), Levels III/IV (section 54030.19), Female Offenders Program (section 54030.21), and High Security and Transitional Housing (section 54030.20). For questions regarding allowable inmate property at an institution, please view the DOM.
Property includes, but is not limited to, items such as personal clothing, personal care/hygiene items, food, games, jewelry, appliances, or books.
Inmates are required upon request by institution staff to properly account for all personal property registered in their name and number. If an inmate fails to account for personal property registered in his/her name and number, or is in possession of property which is not registered to him/her they may receive a disciplinary action. In addition any property not accounted for on the inmates property receipt is considered contraband and subject to confiscation.
Personal property not meeting the criteria in section 3190 of the California Code of Regulations, will be disposed of by either mailing the property to an individual willing to accept the property (if the inmate has sufficient funds in his trust account), returning the item to the sender if the inmate has enough funds in his trust account, donating the property/items to a charitable organization as designated by the prison or to the prison, or disposing of the property/items according to prison procedures.
When property is considered contraband it will be retained by staff until the completion of all disciplinary, investigative, or due process and court requirements, and then be disposed of according to prison procedures.
Can I send a package to an inmate?
Receiving personal property packages is a privilege for an inmate. Refer to the privilege chart for further information. An inmate may receive personal property packages, 30 pounds maximum weight each, per year; exclusive of special purchases and based upon his privilege group, from approved vendors. Inmates may review vendor catalogs at the prison and inform family of their requests. The approved vendor list may be located on our web site at: /Visitors/Approved_Vendors.html
Delivery by staff of packages and special purchases will be completed as soon as possible, but not later than 15 calendar days, except during holiday seasons such as Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving, and during lockdowns of affected inmates. (California Code of Regulations section 3134.1)
Inmates are allowed special purchases of authorized personal property items from locally-approved special purchase vendors. Individuals may not send in packages directly, the package must be sent by an approved vendor. Special purchases may include 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 by a supervisor of correctional education programs and designated custody staff), religious items (subject to approval by institutional chaplain and designated custody staff), entertainment appliances and musical instruments, (based upon privilege group and/or security level/institution mission). (California Code of Regulations section 3190)
Inmates in privilege group D or in Administrative Segregation or Security Housing are eligible for a personal property package after completion of one year of Privilege Group D assignment. (California Code of Regulations, Article 3.5, Section 3044)
Can I send money to an inmate?
Yes. Visit the Visitation page for instructions and information.
Does the inmate have a right to legal services?
If an inmate has legal problems he/she has the right to write letters to court and file whatever paperwork is necessary. Any letters sent to or received from the court or an attorney is considered Legal Mail and may not be opened without permission of the inmate.
Is there a law library provided for the inmate’s use?
Every CDCR facility has a law library for the use of the inmate population. The law library has law books and other materials that may be useful in preparing legal papers. For example, he/she can find forms needed to make certain requests of the court like a “Writ of Habeas Corpus”.
Can an inmate have documents notarized?
All CDCR facilities have the means of providing the inmate with notary service. The notary service charges an administrative fee and the funds will be deducted from the inmate’s trust account. If the inmate has possession of the documents he/she can put a request in to their counselor to set up a notary appointment.
What if I have the forms that need to be notarized?
In order to have paperwork notarized that you are in possession of, please contact the litigation coordinator at the specific institution where the inmate is housed. Attached is a link to the Litigation Coordinator telephone numbers.
Does the inmate have a right to religious services?
Yes, inmate attendance in the religious program shall be voluntary. Institution heads will make every reasonable effort to provide for the religious and spiritual welfare affording inmates a reasonable accommodation to attend a scheduled Religious Service. Depending on the number of inmates of various faiths, chaplains may be hired or their services may be accepted on a non-paid volunteer basis. Reasonable time and accommodation shall be allowed for religious services in keeping with facility security and other necessary institutional operations and activities. The religious programs shall include activities that will encourage inmate participation and may include the following:
- Regular and special religious worship services
- Special religious observances of the faith group
- Religious education
- National commemorative services
- Interfaith services
- Meditation services
- Religious literature distribution
- Outside religious group participation
- Self study religious courses
- Speech forums
- Service projects
- Religious interest groups
- Religious societies and organization
- Participation in community betterment programs
Religious artifacts are those items which American Indians wear on religious/ceremonial occasions and include their tribal colors and totems. These items may include: Choker, Eagle Feathers, Headbands, Wristbands, and/or Medicine Bags. These religious artifacts are not to be confused with items worn strictly for ornamental reasons.
For questions regarding religious services or artifacts, contact the Institution’s Community Partnership Manager. Attached is a link to the telephone numbers for the Community Partnership Managers.
Can inmates participate in a Religious Diet Program?
Yes, any inmate who claims to require a religious diet shall be responsible for completing a CDCR Form 3030-A, Religious Diet Request and submitting it to the appropriate institution’s Chaplain. The Chaplain shall interview the inmate to explain the two religious diets options (including what the meals consist of) and determine the inmate’s religious diet program eligibility. There are two distinct religious diet options: 1) Vegetarian and 2) Jewish Kosher. Medical diets shall take precedence over religious diets.
What if an inmate has safety or enemy concerns?
As soon as an individual inmate becomes aware of a potential safety concern, they should alert staff. Any inmate who staff believes are likely to do serious injury to one another if given the opportunity may be considered enemies. There can be confidential and/or known enemies listed in the inmate’s file that can affect where an individual is placed. These listings shall contain supporting, detailed documentation elsewhere in their central file. Each enemy listing is reviewed, updated and considered in the transfer, placement and case management of each individual. Any information regarding an inmate/parolee which is or may be critical to the safety of persons inside or outside an institution shall be documented (CCR 3378, DOM 61020.3, 61020.3.4).
How does an inmate file a complaint?
If an inmate has a problem regarding a condition, decision, action, policy, rule, or practice within CDCR and can demonstrate it as having an adverse effect upon his/her welfare, he/she may file an appeal. CDCR encourages the inmate to try and resolve problems at the lowest level possible by communicating with the appropriate staff. Sometimes more than not the problem can be resolved at this informal level. However, if this does not work the inmate may continue with a formal appeal. The appeal system was created to have an inmate’s concerns resolved in a timely manner therefore the appeal must be filed in a timely manner and the time frames for appeals are delineated in Title 15 Section 3084.
How do I file a complaint against a staff member for an inmate?
You can not do this. The inmate must use the staff complaint procedure as outlined in Title 15 Section 3084. Again, encouraging the inmate to do so encourages responsibility and accountability.
How do I file a complaint against a staff member for an action taken against me?
If the issue is concerning something that has directly happened to you and rises to the level of potential staff misconduct, you can file a Citizen’s Complaint form stating your concerns. You can mail the complaint to the Warden at the prison or directly to the Associate Director of the Mission the prison falls under.
How do I file a complaint for an inmate?
The inmate is responsible for filing his/her complaint via communication with staff first and if the problem remains unresolved the inmate can then file an appeal at the formal level. Putting this responsibility on the inmate encourages communication, develops rapport with the staff, and fosters accountability.
If you have concerns regarding something that is negatively affecting the inmate, please encourage them to handle it at the institutional level. It is generally easier for the inmate to obtain information and follow the process than it is for a member of the public. Have the inmate send you copies of all documentation relating to the issue so you have all the facts. Monitor the issue but allow time for the process to work (Note: If an INMATE/PAROLEE 602 appeal is in process and has not been responded to through the 3rd level of Review, you should continue to wait until that process is completed) At that time, if you feel that additional attention is needed, you can then contact the institution directly in writing as written documentation provides a chronological outline of the issue and is important when showing prior attempts to resolve the concern. State your concerns and the attempts that have been made to resolve the issue.
If all attempts to resolve the issue at the local level have been exhausted, you can then write (recommended) or call (should be only in emergent situations) to the next level/Associate Director of that specific institution. Mailing address (Note specific Mission): California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, Division of Adult Institutions, 1515 “S” Street, Sacramento, CA 95811.
Mission Contact Information
Division of Adult Institutions
Reception Center Mission
California Institution for Men (CIM)
California State Prison, San Quentin (SQ)
Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI)
Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD)
North Kern State Prison (NKSP)
Wasco State Prison (WSP)
California State Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC)
Division of Adult Institutions
High Security & Transitional Housing
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)
Division of Adult Institutions
General Population Level III & IV
California Medical Facility (CMF)
California Men’s Colony (CMC)
California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison at Corcoran (SATF)
Calipatria State Prison (CAL)
Centinela State Prison (CEN)
Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP)
Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP)
Division of Adult Institutions
General Population Level II & III
Avenal State Prison (ASP)
California Correctional Center (CCC)
California Rehabilitation Center (CRC)
California State Prison, Solano (SOL)
Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP)
Correctional Training Facility (CTF)
Folsom State Prison (FSP)
Ironwood State Prison (ISP)
Sierra Conservation Center (SCC)
Division of Adult Institutions
Female Offenders, Programs and Services
California Institution for Women (CIW)
Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF)
Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW)
Parole Region Contacts
Adult Offender Information
- General Information
- Entering a California State Prison - What to Expect
- General Information Upon Arrival To Endorsed Institution
- Transfer Information
- Visiting Information
- Parole Information
- Health Care Information
- Legal Assistance Information
- CDCR Institutions
- Non-Designated Programming Facilities FAQ
- CDCR Visiting Sergeant or Lieutenant
- Community Partnership Contacts
- Litigation Coordinators And Fax Numbers