California Penal Code 4573.6 PC makes it a crime to knowingly possess controlled substances in prison, jail, or anywhere else inmates are in custody. Knowingly having drugs in a prison or jail is a felony, punishable by two, three, or four years in county jail.
The full language of the statute reads:
4573.6. (a) Any person who knowingly has in his or her possession in any state prison, prison road camp, prison forestry camp, or other prison camp or prison farm or any place where prisoners of the state are located under the custody of prison officials, officers, or employees, or in any county, city and county, or city jail, road camp, farm, or any place or institution, where prisoners or inmates are being held under the custody of any sheriff, chief of police, peace officer, probation officer, or employees, or within the grounds belonging to any jail, road camp, farm, place or institution, any controlled substances, the possession of which is prohibited by Division 10 (commencing with Section 11000) of the Health and Safety Code, any device, contrivance, instrument, or paraphernalia intended to be used for unlawfully injecting or consuming controlled substances, without being authorized to so possess the same by the rules of the Department of Corrections, rules of the prison or jail, institution, camp, farm or place, or by the specific authorization of the warden, superintendent, jailer, or other person in charge of the prison, jail, institution, camp, farm or place, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for two, three, or four years.
(b) The prohibitions and sanctions addressed in this section shall be clearly and prominently posted outside of, and at the entrance to, the grounds of all detention facilities under the jurisdiction of, or operated by, the state or any city, county, or city and county.
California Penal Code 4573.6 PC forbids knowingly possessing controlled substances or drug paraphernalia in any of the following ten locations:
- state prison,
- prison road camp,
- prison forestry camp,
- other prison camp,
- prison farm,
- any place where prisoners of the state are in custody,
- county or city jail,
- county or city road camp,
- county or city farm, or
- any place or institution where city or county inmates are in custody.
PC 4573.6 is meant to deter jail and prison visitors and custodial employees from carrying drugs with them to the facility.
Example: Ethan, who is stressed from his job as a prison guard at California State Prison in Los Angeles County, snorts cocaine in the employees’ bathroom. If caught, Ethan could be prosecuted under PC 4573.6 for knowingly having controlled substances in a detention center.
Knowingly possessing drugs or drug paraphernalia where prisoners are is a felony in California. The punishment includes a county jail term of:
- 2 years,
- 3 years, or
- 4 years.1
See our related articles, Bringing drugs into a jail or prison (PC 4573) and bringing contraband into jail and prison (PC 4573.5).
- California Penal Code 4573.6 PC – Possession of controlled substances in place where prisoners are in custody; Punishment; Posting of prohibitions. See also: People v. Polk (Cal. App. 4th Dist. 2019), 248 Cal. Rptr. 3d 335; People v. Berg (Cal. App. 6th Dist. 2018), 233 Cal. Rptr. 3d 629.