The Santa Clara County Main Jail Complex

∗A resource guide providing inmate, bail and visiting information for the Santa Clara County Main Jail Complex

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Santa Clara Main Jail Complex

The Santa Clara County Main Jail Complex...under the command of the Santa Clara County Department of Corrections...consists of two jail facilities:  the Main Jail South and the Main Jail North.

The Santa Clara Main Jail

  1. temporarily houses arrestees until they

    • post bail,
    • are released on their own recognizance (known as an O.R. release),
    • appear for their arraignment, or
    • appear for trial, and

  2. houses convicted defendants who have been sentenced to incarceration in a county jail.

Males who are arrested in Santa Clara County are taken to the Main Jail where they are either housed or transferred to the Elmwood Correctional Facility, depending on a variety of factors, such as

  • the charges for which the inmate was arrested (the Main Jail typically houses medium to maximum security inmates),
  • the availability of bed space,
  • medical needs, etc.

Female arrestees are taken to the Correctional Center for Women which is part of the Elmwood Correctional Facility.

The Santa Clara County Main Jail Complex is located in Downtown San Jose at

150 W. Hedding Street
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 808-2800

In this article, our San Jose criminal defense attorneys1 provide information about the Santa Clara Main Jail Complex by explaining the following:

1. Procedures on How to Post Bail for an Inmate at the Santa Clara Main Jail Complex

1.1. Cash bail

1.2. Cashier's check

1.3. Money order

1.4. Bail bonds

2. How to Get Inmate Information
3. How to Contact an Inmate at the
Santa Clara Main Jail Complex
4. Rules and Regulations Regarding
Mail Correspondence

4.1. Prohibited items

5. The Santa Clara Main Jail Complex's
Visiting Hours and Policies

5.1. Visiting hours

5.2. Visitor restrictions

6. How to "Put Money on the Books"
for an Inmate
7. The Procedures for "Return of Property"
8. Inmate Services at the
Santa Clara Main Jail Complex

8.1. The "Friends Outside" program

9. Santa Clara County's
Weekend Work Program

If after reading this article, you would like more information, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

You may also find helpful information in our related articles on California's Arraignment Process; How to Post Bail; O.R. Release; The Santa Clara County Bail Schedule; Bail Hearings; Pretrial Hearings; Jury Trials; Sentencing Hearings; Felony Charges; Probation; Parole; and The Elmwood Correctional Facility.

1. Procedures on How to Post Bail for an Inmate at the Santa Clara Main Jail Complex

"Bail" refers to the amount of money that a defendant...or, more likely, someone on the defendant's behalf...must pay (or "post") to the Department of Corrections (DOC) in order to be released from jail.  It is intended to assure the DOC, prosecutor and judge that the defendant will appear in court as expected.

If the defendant attends all court appearances, the bail will be returned at the end of the case.  If the defendant does not attend all of his court appearances, he forfeits that money to the court.

Bail for inmates at the Santa Clara Main Jail Complex is set by the Santa Clara County Bail Schedule based on the crime(s) for which they were arrested.

You may post bail for an inmate at the Santa Clara County Main Jail Complex directly at the jail 24 hours a day / 7 days a week, the only exception being that the office is closed between the hours of 2:00am and 5:00am.

The Jail accepts four types of bail (many of which are discussed in more detail in our article on How to Post Bail in California): cash bail, cashier's checks, money orders, and bail bonds.

1.1. Cash bail

"Cash" bail is just that...cash.  If you decide to post cash bail, you must pay the entire bail amount.   Once paid, the inmate will be released.  If the defendant makes all of his court appearances, the court will refund your money at the conclusion of the criminal case (minus a small processing fee).

1.2. Cashier's check

Similar to cash bail, if you opt to use a cashier's check, you must post the entire bail amount.  However the funds must clear before the inmate will be released.

Only California bank cashier's checks will be accepted and must be payable to the Santa Clara County Department of Corrections.  All cashier's checks should have the inmate's name, booking number and personal file number written on the check.

1.3. Money order

If you wish to post bail for an inmate at the Santa Clara County Main Jail Complex using a money order, it must be a U.S. Postal Service Money Order that is also for the full bail amount.  And, like the cashier's check, the money order should include the inmate's name, booking number and personal file number in the lower left corner of the order.

1.4. Bail bonds

Bail bonds are the most common way to post bail.  When you secure a bail bond from a bail bondsman or bail agent, you only pay a maximum 10% of the bail amount.  The difference here is that the 10% is nonrefundable.  This means that even if the inmate makes all of his court appearances, you still lose that portion of the bail.  And if he fails to make those appearances, you are liable for repaying the full amount of the bail to the bondsman.

You can obtain a bail bond within about 20 minutes, although it generally takes another 30 minutes to four hours for the defendant to be released from custody.  Bail bondsmen advertise via the Internet and the phone book.  Be sure to verify the agent's license and retain copies of all your documents.

∗NOTE:  After you post bail for an inmate at the Santa Clara Main Jail, you should immediately consult with an experienced San Jose criminal defense lawyer who can schedule a bail hearing to argue that the bail should be reduced or eliminated.  One of our experienced local attorneys can also help devise the most effective legal defense to help your loved one fight his case.

2. How to Get Inmate Information

In order to get information about an inmate at the Santa Clara County Complex, you can call the facility's inmate information line at (408) 299-2305 seven (7) days a week between 5:00am and 1:00am.  You must know the inmate's full name and the correct spelling of that name before you will be able to obtain information.

It is important to ask for the inmate's personal file number which is not only necessary to acquire any future information about the inmate but must appear on a variety of documents.

You can also access information online via the Santa Clara Department of Corrections inmate information website.

Be aware that inmate information generally isn't available for at least 4-6 hours after the time of arrest.

If you would like case information on an inmate, such as an upcoming date for his

you may visit the Santa Clara County case information website.

3. How to Contact an Inmate at the
Santa Clara Main Jail Complex

When inmates are booked into the Santa Clara Jail, they are entitled to make free outgoing local phone calls to arrange for bail, inform family members as to their whereabouts and contact an attorney.

Thereafter, calls must be made on a collect basis or placed with a calling card.  Inmates are not allowed to receive incoming calls.

If you wish to set up a pre-paid calling card account for an inmate, you may do so online via Global Tel∗ Link, or you can call Global Tel at (800) 483-8314. Pre-paid cards are available in increments of $25 and $50.  In order to make sure that the correct inmate receives the card, be sure to specify the inmate's booking number and full name.

If you know that a friend/family member is being held in the Santa Clara County Main Jail Complex, you may want to contact your local telephone carrier to make sure that collect and calling card calls are not blocked on your telephone plan.

You can also contact inmates in this facility via mail (discussed below under Section 4. Rules and Regulations Regarding Mail Correspondence) or in person (discussed below under Section 5. Visiting Hours and Policies).

4. Rules and Regulations Regarding
Mail Correspondence

Inmates at the Santa Clara County Main Jail Complex are provided with an unlimited amount of writing supplies and stationary to correspond with their loved ones.  If you choose to correspond with an inmate via the mail, there are a variety of rules and regulations to which you must adhere.  If you do not, the deputies may refuse to deliver your mail.

All mail must be sent through the U.S. Postal Service - any mail sent through UPS, FedEx or any other mail courier will not be accepted.  And all mail will be searched for any possible security breaches.

4.1. Prohibited items

The following items will not be delivered to Santa Clara County inmates:

  • plastics, cardboard, double-ply cards, laminated items, greeting cards larger than 5"x7", postage stamps, staples, paper clips, stamped and/or padded envelopes, items that are taped or blank paper,
  • artwork done with wax, water colors or heavy crayons,
  • packages,
  • pictures larger than 4"x6", Polaroid or other "instant" pictures, or any photos that depict gang-related activities or that are sexual in nature,
  • items that are homemade, have stains or suspicious prints or markings on them,
  • cash, illegal items or drugs,
  • flowers, or
  • any type of food or drinks.

You may send an inmate newspapers, paperback books or magazines as long as you have them mailed directly from the publisher via the U.S. Postal Service.

Send all mail to:

Santa Clara County Department of Corrections
Main Jail Complex
Inmate's name, booking number and Personal File Number
885 North San Pedro Street
San Jose, CA 95110

5. Visiting Hours and Policies

If you wish to visit an inmate at the Santa Clara County Main Jail Complex, you are allowed to do so, provided that you comply with the facility's visiting hours and policies.  Visits are typically scheduled ahead of time, and visitors are required to register when they make their appointments.

All visitors and their property are subject to search prior to entry.  Any illegal items will be confiscated and may subject you to criminal prosecution.

Each visitor must provide a government issued photo I.D. card, such as

  • a California driver's license,
  • a California identification card,
  • a U.S. Passport,
  • an alien registration card, or
  • a U.S. military card.

Minors must have an original or notarized copy of their birth certificate and must be accompanied by their parent or legal guardian at all times.  These identification cards and a single key are the only items that will be allowed inside the facility.  The only exception is that visitors who bring an infant will be permitted to bring one (1) baby bottle.

5.1. Visiting hours

Guests may visit inmates in the Main Jail North from 7:00am to 3:15pm every day except Wednesday.  Guests may visit inmates housed in the Main Jail South from 7:00am to 5:00pm on the same days.  Within these hours, visits take place according to a set schedule which may be found on the Main Jail's visitors' information page.

All visits are on a first-come, first served basis, although visitors may sign-up up as early as three (3) days prior to an anticipated visit.  Guests must register at least one-hour before the desired scheduled visit.  Weekday sign-ups begin at 7:00am, and weekend sign-ups begin at 6:00am.

Visiting schedules are subject to change, so it is advisable to call the visitor information line at (408) 299-3438 prior to arranging a visit.

Inmates are allowed to have one 60-minute visit on the weekend and one 60-minute visit during the week.  Up to two (2) adults and a reasonable number of children may visit an inmate at any given time, and all must be present at the time of the sign-up.  When this is the case, the visit will be split into two (2) half-hour visits to accommodate one adult visitor at a time.

Children visitors require an original or notarized birth certificate and must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at all times.

Attorneys and clergy members are not restricted to the Jail's normal visiting hours.  Attorneys of record may visit their clients anytime.  And as long as members of the clergy contact the jail's chaplain's office for pre-approval, they may visit anytime as well.

5.2. Visitor restrictions

Visitors must be properly dressed.  The dress code is strictly enforced, and failure to comply will result in a denial of entrance.

You may not wear/carry:

  • revealing and/or sexually provocative clothing,
  • clothing with offensive or obscene images or words,
  • clothing with patterns that illustrate or resemble law enforcement or military emblems,
  • clothing that is similar to that of the inmates',
  • clothing or footwear with metal parts (∗shoes must be worn at all times),
  • hats, caps, bandanas or any other "headgear", or
  • handbags, purses, wallets, cell phones or pagers.

And any visitor displaying a tattoo of an offensive nature or that is gang-related will be denied visitation.

Visitors who have

  • a prior felony conviction,
  • served time in a state prison, or
  • pending criminal charges

will not be allowed to visit without prior authorization from the Jail Commander.  And those individuals who are on probation or parole will additionally have to secure prior approval from their probation/parole officers.

The bottom line is that regardless of any other circumstances, the staff at the Santa Clara County Main Jail Complex reserves the right to deny any visitor access who they deem may pose a security threat to the staff or inmates.

6. How to "Put Money on the Books" for an Inmate

Once an inmate is booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail, all of his property is confiscated and stored.  If the inmate has any cash in his possession, it will be deposited into an account for the inmate that he can use to purchase items from the jail's commissary such as "extra" food, non-essential toiletry items and stationary.

In addition, friends and family members may choose to deposit money into an inmate's account to allow the inmate to purchase additional items in the commissary.

In you decide that you want to send money to an inmate (a process known as "putting money on the books"), you may do so by mailing a money order or cashier's check through the U.S. Postal Service.

You must include the inmate's correctly spelled name and booking number and Personal File Number on the order or check as well as on the outer envelope.  Make these checks payable to the Santa Clara County Department of Corrections.  Errors will result in a denial of the funds and the cashier's check or money order being returned to the sender.

Each check or money order may not exceed $300.  Once the funds are verified, they will be available to the inmate.  An inmate may transfer funds to anyone he wishes except to another inmate.  In the alternative, any unused funds will be refunded once the inmate is released (discussed below in the next section).

7. The Procedures for "Return of Property"

The Santa Clara County Main Jail Complex will return confiscated property to an inmate once he is either transferred to a different jail/prison facility or when the inmate completes his sentence and is released from the Complex.

If the inmate desires, he may choose to release his property to a friend or family member prior to the inmate's release.  When an inmate decides to release any of his property, the inmate must release all of the property with the exception of personal clothing.  Personal clothing will only be released upon discharge from the facility or transfer to a California state prison.

If an inmate has chosen you to pick up his property, you must bring a government issued I.D. (listed above under Section 5. Visiting Hours and Policies) directly to the Santa Clara Jail Complex on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays or Sundays between the hours of 7:00am and 2:00pm where you will be given the inmate's property.

8. Inmate Services at the
Santa Clara Main Jail Complex

The Santa Clara Department of Corrections offers a variety of mental/medical, educational and recreational programs to its Main Jail inmates.  Some of these include:

  • a commissary where inmates can purchase a variety of items such as food, reading materials, hygiene products, games, etc.,
  • mental health counseling,
  • religious services,
  • drug and/or alcohol counseling and meetings,
  • anger management and parenting classes,
  • English as a second language classes, computer classes, literacy classes and the opportunity to earn a general education diploma ("G.E.D") or high school diploma,
  • work programs,
  • community work skills such as grounds, roads, parks and school maintenance, and
  • a library for minimum security inmates.

8.1. The "Friends Outside" program

In addition, the Santa Clara Department of Corrections has a special program called "Friends Outside".  The main objective of this program is to connect inmates with their families.  In order to achieve this goal, the program offers parenting classes as well as educational and recreational activities to inmates and their families.

"Friends Outside" also helps inmate meets needs that may not easily be met in the Jail Complex.  The types of services that "Friends Outside" provides include (but are not limited to):

  • cashing payroll checks,
  • verifying scheduled court appearances,
  • maintaining contact with an inmate's probation or parole officers,
  • helping with any legal documents, and
  • providing clothing to inmates who will be attending a jury trial.

Inmates or their friends/family may contact "Friends Outside" by

  1. accessing their website,
  2. emailing them at jailservices.friendsoutside@gmail.com,
  3. mailing them at

    Friends Outside in Santa Clara County
    Catholic Charities Building, Suite 210
    2625 Zanker Road
    San Jose, CA 95134, or

  4. calling them at (408) 295-6033 Monday through Friday from 9:00am-5:00pm.
9. Santa Clara County's Weekend Work Program

As an alternative to traditional jail, the Weekend Work Program ("WWP") offers low-risk offenders the opportunity to serve their sentences by performing community labor in lieu of incarceration.  Participants pay to participate, so there is no cost to the citizens of Santa Clara County or the Department of Corrections.

WWP participants perform their service on the weekends so that it does not interfere with their regular employment.  There are a variety of local agencies that utilize WWP workers.  All participants are carefully screened by the courts and probation department prior to being accepted into the program.

Visiting schedules are different for weekend workers, so be sure to contact the facility prior to visiting an inmate who is enrolled in this program.

For more information, visit the Weekend Work Program rules website or call (408) 957-5871.

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