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Mail and Books

Written correspondence can be an important and inexpensive way to maintain a close relationship with someone who is incarcerated. Inmates may purchase pre-stamped envelopes and postcards from the jail commissary. Inmates may send as many letters and postcards as they desire. Those without sufficient funds are provided a limited supply of pre-stamped envelopes. You may deposit funds directly to an inmate’s account at the Information Office at any Sheriff’s Detention facility or by visiting

All mail entering and leaving a jail facility is searched for contraband and the writing will be scanned for security issues. The only exception will be “legal mail” between an inmate and the inmate’s attorney, correspondence from State and Federal Courts, any member of the State Bar or holder of public office, Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB), Internal Affairs, Office of the Sheriff, the Corrections Standards Authority and the Facility Commander or the Assistant Facility Commander.

Official mail sent directly from local, state or government offices will also be accepted. (i.e., “Social Security”, “Veteran’s Affairs”, “Child Support Services”, “Unemployment”, “Welfare”, “Health and Human Services”, “Probation”, “Registrar of Voters” etc.) The letters will be inspected for authenticity prior to delivery to inmates.

Any mail from providers of post-release programming or services needs to be addressed to the counseling division for dissemination. It will be screened and provided to inmates.

Effective September 1, 2012, the only acceptable form of incoming personal public correspondence will be postcards and electronic mail messages (e-mail). Personal incoming letters will no longer be accepted. Any incoming personal letters received will be returned to the sender.

Any personal documents requiring inmate signature produced at the facility, where the inmate is housed, will be provided to the inmate for signature and promptly returned to the person delivering the document.

Inmate correspondence between Sheriff’s Detention Facilities must be via postcard only; no letters between facilities are allowed.

When addressing correspondence to someone in jail, please address the postcard in the following manner:

postcard policy for san diego county jail

Postcards must be rectangular, at least 3½ inches high x 5 inches long but no larger than 6⅛ inches high and 11½ inches long. According to U.S. Postal Services standards, postcards must be between .007 inches and .016 inches in thickness.

Incoming postcards with any of the following will be deemed unacceptable:

  1. Altered from their original form, including added layering, backing, or wrappings.
  2. Marked with paint, crayon, glitter, labels, cloth, string, watermarks, stains or stickers (excluding US postage stamps)
  3. Cosmetics or perfumes (i.e. lipstick, gloss, scents, etc.)
  4. Depictions of nudity, obscenities, suggestive images, or other offensive materials.
  5. Depictions of weapons, gang references, criminal activity, codes, or markings.
  6. Depictions containing writings, images or references that may incite violence, riot, racism, or threaten the security of any San Diego County Jail facility.


When does the postcard policy begin?

September 01, 2012. Mail postmarked before September 01, 2012 and delivered after the postcard start date will be accepted and delivered.

Does this policy affect outgoing mail from the jail as well?

No; inmates will still be able to obtain paper and stamped envelopes from the Commissary to write outgoing letters.

How can postcards be sent to an inmate?

All incoming postcards must be delivered through the U.S. Postal Service, or a commercially licensed mail carrier.

Will picture postcards created at a store be accepted?

Yes. Many businesses allow the customer to convert digital images to a postcard format. These types of postcards will be acceptable as long as the images do not violate size or security requirements established in the policy. For more information on obtaining picture postcards, visit the U.S. Postal Service site.

Can inmates keep letters, photos, envelopes or other mail that was acceptable within the jail before September 01, 2012?

Yes. Inmates will be allowed to keep mail items that were acceptable before the change. The policy will affect incoming and outgoing mail received or sent after September 01, 2012.

How many postcards can an inmate send or receive?

Inmates can send and receive as many postcards as they want.

Will the Commissary sell postcards to the inmates?

4 X 6 postcards can be purchased for 42¢, which includes postage.

Do Inmates need to purchase stamps for the Commissary envelopes or postcards?

No. The price of each item includes postage.

How will Legal Mail be affected?

There will be no change.

Does this change how books, newspapers, and magazines are accepted?

No, there is no change.

If you do not have the booking number of the inmate to whom you are writing, you may look it up on the Sheriff’s Website using the feature titled “Who’s in Jail.”


Each facility maintains a supply of books and magazines available to the inmates. Daily newspapers are also provided in the housing units. Books or magazines mailed or delivered to a Sheriff’s detention facility by the general public will not be accepted. New books or magazines may be mailed to an inmate under the following conditions:

  1. They must have soft covers; no hardcover books will be accepted, be no larger than 6" x 9" x 2" thick
  2. The books or magazines must be new, and
  3. The books or magazines must be mailed to the inmate directly from the publisher or bookseller

Detention Maining Addresses

San Diego Central Jail
1173 Front St.
San Diego, CA 92101
Vista Detention Facility
325 S. Melrose Dr, Ste 200
Vista, CA 92081
South Bay Detention Facility
500 Third Ave
Chula Vista, CA 91910
Las Colinas Detention & Reentry Facility
451 Riverview Parkway
Santee, CA 92071
Facility 8 
446 Alta Rd., Suite 5300
San Diego, CA 92158
East Mesa Reentry Facility
446 Alta Rd., Suite 5200
San Diego, CA 92158
George Bailey Detention Facility
446 Alta Rd., Suite 5300
San Diego, CA 92158

Remember deputies will review anything you send into the facility. Do not send cash, stamps, coins, drugs, cigarettes or any other property with your postcard. Rather than sending money, you may deposit funds to an inmate’s account at the Information Office of any Sheriff’s Detention Facility or by visiting