The Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail

∗A resource guide providing inmate, bail and visiting information for the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail

Mcj

Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail

The Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail ("MCJ").operated by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.

  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
    • await their trial, and

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

With a maximum capacity of 6,750 inmates, the Men's Central Jail can hold more inmates than any other in the world.  It is located at

441 Bauchet Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 974-4921

The Men's Central Jail only houses male inmates.  Females are housed at the Century Regional Detention Facility.  And male inmates are sometimes transferred between the Los Angeles Twin Towers Facility or the Pitchess Detention Center depending on a variety of circumstances.

In this article, our Los Angeles County criminal defense attorneys1 will explain the following:

1. Procedures on How to Post Bail for an Inmate at the L.A. County Men's Central Jail

1.1. Cash bail

1.2. Cashier's checks

1.3. Money orders

1.4. Bail bonds

2. How to Get Inmate Information
3. How to Contact an Inmate at the
Los Angeles Men's Central Jail
4. Visiting Hours and Policies

4.1. Visiting hours

4.2. Visitor rules and restrictions

5. Rules and Regulations Regarding Mail Correspondence with Inmates at the MCJ

5.1. Prohibited items

5.2. Acceptable items

5.3. Care packages

6. How to Put "Money on the Books"
for an Inmate
7. Inmate Services
8. Procedures for "Return of Property"

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; O.R. Release; How to Post Bail; Bail Hearings; The Los Angeles Twin Towers Jail; The Pitchess Detention Center; The Century Regional Detention Facility; The Los Angeles County Bail Schedule; Pretrial Hearings; Probation; Warrants; and Case Information.

1. Procedures on How to Post Bail for an Inmate at the L.A. County Men's Central Jail

"Bail" refers to the amount of money that a defendant must post in order to be released from jail.  It is intended to assure the court 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.

Once an inmate has been booked into the MCJ, anyone can pay (or "post") bail on his behalf.  You can do this 24 hours a day / 7 days a week at the L.A. Inmate Reception Center ("IRC") which is across the street from the Jail, located at

450 Bauchet Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 893-5875

A MCJ inmate's bail will be set according to the Los Angeles County bail schedule based on the crime(s) for which he was arrested.

The Inmate Reception Center accepts four types of bail payments (many of which are discussed in 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

If you post cash bail, it must be for the full bail amount.  Once you post cash bail, the inmate is released pending his arraignment.  If the inmate attends his court appearances, the bail will be returned following the conclusion of the criminal case (minus a small administrative fee).  If the inmate does not attend those appearances, he forfeits your money to the court.

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.  The L.A. County Men's Central Jail only accepts California bank-drawn cashier's checks.  Checks should be payable to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.  They should also include the inmate's full name and booking number.

Because the funds must be verified before the Jail will release an inmate, the inmate's release may take a while, depending on the time of day and whether the arrest takes place on a weekend.

1.3. Money orders

Again, money orders must be payable to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and must be for the full bail amount.

1.4. Bail bonds

Since most people don't have the funds to post cash bail or a cashier's check, posting a bail bond is the most common way to bail someone out of jail.  This is because.assuming the defendant makes all of his court appearances.you are only required to pay a maximum 10% of the total bail amount.

You obtain a bail bond from a bail bondsman (aka a bail agent).  If the defendant makes all of his court appearances, you pay nothing on top of the 10%, but you do not get that 10% back.it is the bondsman's nonrefundable fee.  If the inmate doesn't make those appearances, you will be liable for repaying the entire bail amount to the agent.

When you use a bail bond, the application process only takes about half an hour.  The inmate is usually released shortly after that.

You can search for bail bondsmen via the Internet or in the phone book.  Make sure you verify the bondsman's license and retain copies of any documents for your records.

∗NOTE:  Once you post bail, you should immediately consult with a skilled Los Angeles 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 Information on Inmates Housed at the MCJ

You can obtain information on inmates at the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles 24 hours a day / 7 days a week by

  1. calling the L.A. Inmate Reception Center ("IRC") at (213) 473-6100, or
  2. visiting the Los Angeles Sheriff's inmate information website.

That said, inmate information is usually not available until at least two hours after the time of booking.

In order to get inmate information, you need to provide the inmate's complete name and date of birth or booking number.  Once you have provided this information, a deputy will provide the inmate's

  • booking number (if you don't already have it),
  • exact jail housing location,
  • next scheduled court date, and
  • bail information.

Typically, inmates who are being held in custody must be arraigned within two (2) days of being arrested.  At that point, the judge will either continue the arraignment or will set the case for a pre-trial hearing.  If you wish to look up the case information and/or upcoming court dates for an inmate or defendant being housed at the L.A. Men's Central Jail, visit the Los Angeles County case information website.

3. How to Contact an Inmate at the
Los Angeles Men's Central Jail

When an inmate is booked into the MCJ, he may make one free outgoing phone call.  Beyond that, all outgoing calls must be collect or placed with a calling card.  Inmates are not allowed to receive incoming calls.

If you would like to send an inmate a prepaid calling card, you have two options:

  1. send the inmate money in accordance with the policies set forth under Section 6. How to Put Money "On the Books" so that he can purchase one at the jail's commissary, or
  2. send the inmate a prepaid calling card in a commissary care package (discussed below under Subsection 5.3. Care packages).

If you have a loved one in the Men's Central Jail, contact your local telephone carrier to make sure that collect and calling card calls are not blocked on your telephone plan.

The good news is that contact with inmates at the Los Angeles Men's Central Jail isn't limited to phone calls.  You can also visit an inmate in person or correspond via mail.  These options are discussed in the next two sections.

4. Visiting Hours and Policies

Most inmates at the MCJ are allowed to have friends and family visit them at the facility.

4.1. Visiting hours

If you wish to visit an inmate at the L.A. Men's Central Jail, you may typically do so Thursday through Sunday between the hours of 10:00am and 3:00pm and from 5:00pm to 7:00pm.  And even though reservations are not required, you may want to call ahead before you plan a visit since these hours are subject to change without notice.and because certain inmates may not be entitled to visiting privileges.

Generally speaking, each inmate is allowed one visit per scheduled visiting day with a maximum of three (3) persons at a time.  Each child counts as one (1) person.  And, on that note, minors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian and must present valid school photo identification card.

Attorneys and members of the clergy are not bound by these hours or visitor limits and have access to inmates 24 hours a day / 7 days a week.  That said, clergy members typically adhere to a regular visiting schedule and it is preferred that attorneys visit during "attorney hours" which are from 8:00am to 7:00pm.

4.2. Visitor rules and restrictions

All visitors are subject to a search of their person and property.  Additionally, all visitors 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.

Even with a valid I.D., certain individuals are prohibited from visiting inmates at the MJC.  This includes individuals who:

Visitors are additionally prohibited from bringing any

  • purses,
  • cameras,
  • cell phones,
  • writing tablets,
  • recording devices, or
  • weapons

inside the visiting lobby.  And at no time may visitors bring anything to the inmates.

5. Rules and Regulations Regarding Mail Correspondence with Inmates at the MCJ
If you wish to send mail to an inmate at the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail, address it to

[Inmate's complete name and seven-digit booking number]
P.O. Box 86164, Terminal Annex
Los Angeles, CA 90086-0164


All mail must comport with the facility's rules and regulations below.  If it does not, it will be returned intact to the sender.  However, if the mail contains anything inherently illegal, it will be stored as evidence and could subject you to criminal prosecution.

5.1. Prohibited items

Prohibited items include (but are not limited to):

  • food,
  • cosmetics,
  • stationary, blank envelopes, envelopes with metal clasps, paper clips, staples, pencils, glitter, stickers, postage stamps, glued or gummed labels, cellophane tape or any type of tape on a letter, or envelopes with gang or suggestive drawings/art work,
  • cash, personal or second-party checks, traveler's checks, payroll checks, blank money orders, out-of-state non-U.S. Postal Service money orders, or any money order exceeding $200,
  • musical, plastic or blank greeting/post cards larger than 6"x9",
  • rosary beads, balloons, string bracelets or other jewelry items,
  • lottery tickets, or
  • pre-paid telephone cards.

5.2. Acceptable items

You can send up to five (5) photographs to a MCJ inmate (inmates are only allowed to possess five (5) photos at any time) as long as they are a minimum of 2"x3" and a maximum of 4"x6".  Photos containing any nude, sexually suggestive, or gang-related content will not be delivered.

And as far as reading materials are concerned, you may send up to (3) books per week and up to three (3) magazines per week.  Acceptable books, magazines, etc. must be sent directly from an actual or on-line bookstore or publisher and may not be sexually explicit in nature.

5.3. Care packages

Even though you are personally prohibited from sending certain items (such as food or pre-paid calling cards), you can have these types of items sent via a commissary care-package.  The Keefe Commissary contracts with Men's Central and offers a variety of care packages that you may choose to have delivered to an inmate.

Deliveries are made to the MCJ every Monday except on holidays.  For more information, visit the Keefe Commissary website.

Please know that you must go through this service exclusively.  Not only do the Jail's mail rules and regulations prohibit you from sending these types of items on your own, but care packages sent from outside sources will not be accepted either.

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

When you "put money on the books" for an inmate at the Los Angeles Men's Central Jail, it means that you create or contribute to an "in-house" bank account that allows the inmate to make purchases at the Jail's commissary.

If you would like to mail money to a MCJ inmate, send a California bank-drawn cashier's check, a money order or a U.S. Postal Service money order to

[Inmate's complete name and seven-digit booking number]
P.O. Box 86164, Terminal Annex
Los Angeles, CA 90086-0164

Be sure to follow the rules/regulations that were described above in Section 5. Rules and Regulations Regarding Mail Correspondence.

If you wish to "put money on the books" in person, you may do so 24 hours a day / 7 days a week at the cashier's office in the Inmate Reception Center located at

450 Bauchet Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90012.

7. Inmate Services

Because the L.A. County Men's Central Jail is the world's largest correctional facility, it offers a number of services to its inmates.  Some of these include:

  • a commissary where inmates can purchase a variety of items such as food, reading materials, hygiene products, games, etc.,
  • two exercise yards that offer recreational activities such as basketball, handball and football,
  • televisions,
  • a barbershop,
  • a library (and a law library for inmates who wish to represent themselves, otherwise known as "pro per" representation),
  • educational courses and high school equivalency (G.E.D.) certificates,
  • chapel services for all major religious denominations (in addition to performing services, chaplains also provide indigent inmates with hygiene items), and
  • a fully equipped hospital where doctors and nurses can treat inmates for a wide variety of medical problems that include both physical issues and mental health issues.  But despite these medical services, inmates who have severe medical needs will typically be taken to the Los Angeles Twin Towers Correctional Facility.  This facility also houses L.A.'s maximum security inmates.
8. Procedures for "Return of Property"

When an inmate is booked into the MCJ, his belongings are collected and stored.  This property is usually returned to the inmate upon his release.  Alternatively, an inmate can designate another person to claim that property by filling out a property release form.

If an inmate fills out this form designating you as the person to whom property should be released, you may go to the lobby of the Inmate Reception Center across the street (450 Bauchet Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012) Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 8:00pm to collect the property.

If you are trying to get an inmate's vehicle released, you must contact the arresting agency.  They will be able to provide details about the particular vehicle in question, such as where the vehicle is located and whether or not it has been impounded (in which case, it will have to remain impounded for a specific period of time).

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