Having a friend or family member booked into jail can create confusion and uncertainty, both for the inmate and the loved ones involved. You may find it difficult to contact the person who was arrested for some time after booking, and the nature of the jail system may make it difficult for you to acquire the information you need concerning the arrest.

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Sheriff Department Jail Information by Phone

San Diego Central Jail (619) 610-1647

Las Colinas Detention & Reentry Facility (619) 402-1312

Vista Detention Facility (760) 936-0014

George Bailey Detention Facility (619) 210-0385

South Bay Detention Facility (619) 213-1433

East Mesa Reentry Facility (619) 210-0334

Facility 8 Detention Facility (619) 210-0327

Booking & Classification

When individuals are arrested, they are usually taken to a local police station where they may be interviewed, and where necessary reports and forms are prepared. If the individual is arrested for driving under the influence, a breath, urine, or chemical blood test will be conducted. This process can take as long as four hours before the person is brought to a county jail to be booked. Since a good deal of time may pass before the jail system has any notification of a person’s arrest, if you call shortly after your friend or loved one is arrested you may find that they are not yet in the jail system. Do not be concerned by this delay, because the pre-booking period is routine and necessary.

Male inmates are booked at either the San Diego Central Jail in Downtown San Diego or the Vista Detention Facility. Field bookings are not normally accepted at any other jail facilities. All female inmates come into the jail system through either the Las Colinas Detention & Reentry Facility in Santee or the Vista Detention Facility in Vista.

When arrested individuals arrive at the jail facility, they go through the intake process before being housed in the inmate population. Intake is comprised of several steps which include medical screening, the booking process and the classification interview.

Immediately upon arrival at the jail the inmate is examined for any medical conditions that need immediate treatment. A nurse conducts a private screening to make sure the inmate is not injured or in need of immediate medical treatment. A second medical examination is conducted later in the booking process to ensure all conditions that an inmate may have are properly noted and that the facility is capable of meeting the inmate’s medical needs.

During the booking process all inmates are searched to make sure that no contraband is being brought into the facility. They are photographed and fingerprinted. Their personal information and charges are entered into the computer system, their bail is calculated, and a court date is set.

Some inmates may be eligible for release on their own recognizance very soon after booking. Intoxicated inmates will be held for up to 12 hours, and sometimes longer, to ensure they are sober enough to be safely released. Most inmates are eligible for bail, and they have access to telephones to arrange bail through friends, family, or bail agents. A list of bail agents is available in each facility. When it is determined that inmates will not be released on their own recognizance or make bail, they are given a classification interview and their housing criteria are determined.


The Classification staff considers a number of objective risk factors in determining the custody level of an inmate. These factors, such as violence, criminal history, previous escapes, and institutional behavior problems, establish the relative degree of risk posed by that inmate. The purpose of Classification is to house inmates of similar classification together in order to minimize the risk of conflict between inmates. Proper classification also allows us to house inmates in the facilities best suited to their level of risk.

Although the classification system is regarded as very reliable, situations may arise justifying an override of the inmate’s custody level. The Classification staff is authorized to recommend such overrides where appropriate. Those inmates who have a concern about their classification are welcome to submit an Inmate Request to the Classification Unit to have their concern addressed.

After the initial classification process, there are several events that may result in the reclassification of an inmate. The addition of new charges, reduction of charges, sentencing, and serious disciplinary actions are all events that might trigger reclassification.

All inmates get an introduction to their assigned jail by watching an orientation video that explains the basic facility rules and procedures. Inmates also have access to posted rules and information which provide guidelines for inmate behavior, as well as informing them about visiting, mail, contraband, security violations, inmate grooming, telephone calls and religious programs.

While in custody, inmates may be interviewed by various professional staff members. Interviews are sometimes conducted, depending on need, by correctional counselors, psychiatrists, drug and alcohol treatment specialists, chaplains, educators and medical staff, who together help to determine the services and programming appropriate for each inmate.


The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department strives to accommodate individuals with disabilities in the jails. T.D.D. devices are available for hearing impaired inmates, and many phones are equipped with volume enhancement features. Inmates are allowed to retain glasses, dentures and other prosthetic devices while in custody. After screening by medical staff, approval may be granted for mobility aids such as canes, crutches and wheelchairs. After consultation with the inmate, medical staff may also recommend specialized housing, bunk assignments and medical care in order to meet the inmate’s specific needs. Inmates may request accommodation of a disability during the intake medical screening, the medical interview, or at any other time by submitting an inmate request. While most requests can be resolved effectively with jail staff, inmate grievances over disability accommodations may be directed to Supervising Nurse Nancy Booth at (858) 974-5964. Employment-related ADA issues may be directed to the Sheriff’s Department’s ADA Coordinator, Denise Smith, at 9621 Ridgehaven Court, San Diego, CA 92123 or by calling (858) 974-2019.

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