The Theo Lacy Jail Facility ("TLF") Orange, CA


Men and women who are arrested in Orange County will be taken to the Orange County Intake Release Center ("IRC"). Once booked, men

Male inmates may find themselves at Theo Lacy because

  • it is the closest facility to the arrest location,
  • the inmate is considered a high-risk offender, and/or
  • the inmate has serious mental health or medical issues.

Since its opening in 1960, the Theo Lacy Jail Facility has been transformed from a 424-bed minimum security jail to a 3,111-bed maximum security jail, making it the largest jail facility in Orange County.

This facility

  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.

Inmates who are incarcerated at Theo Lacy are separated for security reasons based on criteria that include (but is not limited to):

  • their past confinement history,
  • current charges, and
  • level of criminal sophistication.

And...depending on where they fall within this range...inmates are either housed in multiple bunk-style dormitories or in one or two-man cells.  Inmates are further separated so that low-risk minimum security offenders have more freedom to move about the facility free from the danger from the higher-risk offenders who are housed in a more restricted part of the facility.

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

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

1. Procedures on How to Post Bail for an Inmate at the Theo Lacy Jail Facility

Bail for the Theo Lacy Facility is set according to the Orange County Bail Schedule and is determined based on the crime(s) for which the inmate was arrested.

"Bail" refers to the money that the inmate (or someone on the inmate's behalf) pays to assure the arresting agency and court that the inmate will make his court appearances after being released from jail.

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, the inmate forfeits that money to the court.

If you wish to bail someone out of Theo Lacy, you may do so directly at the facility Monday through Thursday from 6:30pm to midnight and Friday through Sunday from 8:00am to midnight.  After midnight, you may post bail at the Intake Release Center (open 24 hours a day / 7 days a week) which is located at

550 North Flower Street
Santa Ana, CA 92703

To find out the amount of bail that has been set for an inmate, you may call the Sheriff's record's department at (714) 935-6940.

Theo Lacy accepts the following forms of bail:

  • Cash (If you pay "or post" cash bail, you must pay the full amount),
  • Cashier's checks (If you pay with a cashier's check, it, too, must be for the full amount.  It must be on a California bank-drawn check payable to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.  Once the jail verifies the funds, the inmate will be released),
  • Personal checks (Make your check payable to the Orange County Superior Court.  The maximum amount that you can write a check for is $7,500.  Be sure that the check corresponds with the issuer's driver's license or California identification card and that it is a California bank check),
  • Traveler's checks (Traveler's checks should be payable to the Orange County Sheriff's Department and will only be accepted if signed in the presence of a cashier at the cashier's office at the time you are posting bail),
  • Money orders (Money orders - issued from any state - should be payable to the Orange County Sheriff's Department and must be for the exact bail amount), and
  • Bail bonds (Bail bonds are the most common way to post bail, as they only require you to pay a nonrefundable maximum of 10% of the total bond.  The catch is that if the inmate doesn't make all of his court appearances, you will be liable for repaying the bondsman the full bail amount.  You can search for a bail bondsman via the Internet or in the phone book.  Make sure you ask for the bondsman's license for verification.  You should also request copies of all documents and maintain them for your records).

∗NOTE:  After you post bail, you should immediately consult with one of our local Santa Ana criminal defense attorneys.2 Not only can we help create the most effective defense to help clear your loved one of his charges, but we can schedule a bail hearing to potentially reduce or even waive the inmate's bail.

And a word of caution - the Theo Lacy Facility does not permit you to combine checks, money orders and cash to make a bail payment.  You must post bail using only one type of payment.

2. How to Get Inmate Information

If you wish to obtain information about an inmate at the Theo Lacy Facility, you can

Before you will be given information, you must know the inmate's full name and his date of birth.

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 or upcoming court dates for an inmate or defendant being housed at Theo Lacy, visit the Orange County Court Online Access Information website.

3. How to Contact an Inmate at the Theo Lacy Jail

Inmates at the Theo Lacy Facility are allowed to make one free outgoing phone call when they arrive at the facility.  Beyond that, inmates are only allowed to place outgoing phone calls that are either collect or made with a calling card.

If you wish to buy a calling card for an inmate, you may send the inmate money in accordance with the policies set forth under Section 6. How to Put Money "On the Books" At the Theo Lacy Jail Facility so that he can purchase one at the jail's commissary.

If you have a loved one in this Jail, you may want to contact your local telephone company to ensure that collect and calling card calls are not blocked on your telephone plan.

Inmates are not allowed to receive incoming calls.  You may, however, opt to visit an inmate in person or engage in mail correspondence.  Both of these options are discussed in the two sections that follow.

4. Theo Lacy Visiting Hours and Policies

The Theo Lacy Jail Facility is located at

501 The City Drive South
Orange, CA 92868
(714) 935-6940

Visitors may park in the North parking structure located across from the Juvenile Courthouse and next to UCI medical.

Visiting hours at the Theo Lacy Jail are Friday through Sunday from 8:00am to 6:00pm with the last check-in at 5:30pm.  The inmates at this facility are allowed to have one 30-minute visit per day from a maximum of two adults and one child under the age of 5.  Minors may only visit an inmate without an adult if they are a direct blood relative of the inmate.

Attorneys and members of the clergy are not bound by these hours and have unrestricted access to inmates.

4.1. Rules and Restrictions

All visitors are subject to a search of their person, property and vehicles.  This includes passing through a metal detection screening device prior to entry.  Anyone found in possession of any weapons or instruments that are likely to produce an injury will be subject to arrest.  And anyone who refuses to be searched will be denied entrance to the facility.

Lockers are available outside the security area of the lobby.  The only items visitors are allowed to bring into the visiting area are identification and keys (with the exception of certain necessities for those bringing babies into the facility).  Valid identification consists of 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.

Visitors may not bring anything to the inmates.  If you have a document that the inmate needs to sign, you must obtain pre-approval from the Theo Lacy staff.

In addition, visitors must not bring any

  • food,
  • drinks,
  • cigarettes,
  • matches,
  • lighters,
  • cell phones, or
  • anything else deemed "inappropriate" for a jail visit.

Anyone wearing offensive or inappropriate clothing may be denied entry, as will anyone who is disruptive, intoxicated or poses a security threat.  And on that note, anyone found in violation of any law will be subject to arrest.

5. Rules and Regulations Regarding
Mail Correspondence

Inmates at the Theo Lacy Jail Facility are allowed to send and receive an unlimited number of letters each day.  However...for security reasons...all incoming and outgoing mail is subject to search prior to being delivered.

If you wish to send mail to an inmate at the Theo Lacy Jail Facility, address it to

[Inmate's name and booking number]
510 The City Drive South
Orange, CA 92868

Be sure to include a return address because, if you do not, your mail will not be delivered.

All mail must comply with the facility's rules and regulations below.

5.1. Acceptable mail items

  • Money orders made payable to the Orange County Sheriff's Department that include the inmate's full name and booking number,
  • up to ten (10) pages of photocopied/reproduced or printed material,
  • up to ten (10) photos that are 8x10 or smaller (as long as they do not depict any nudity or sexually suggestive matter), and
  • new paperback reading materials that are sent directly from a publishing company or distributor (,, etc.)  ∗Each inmate at Theo Lacy may have up to five (5) books at any given time.

5.2. Unacceptable mail items

You are prohibited from sending

  • anything that can't go through an inspection without being damaged,
  • any item that contains foil, metal, glass, wood, hard plastic, rubber or any illegal substance,
  • maps, travel brochures, calendars or posters,
  • cash, credit cards, checkbooks, personal or payroll checks,
  • food,
  • clothing, hygiene items or other personal property,
  • padded envelopes, or
  • any item that an inmate can buy from Theo Lacy's commissary (many of which can be viewed by clicking here).

Prohibited mail will not be delivered to the inmate.

6. How to Put Money "On the Books" At the
Theo Lacy Jail

Putting money "on the books" is a procedure that conveniently offers family members or friends of inmates at the Theo Lacy Jail the opportunity to deposit money into an inmate's in-house bank account.  Any cash that the inmate had at the time of booking will also be deposited into this account unless the money was confiscated by the arresting agency as evidence of a crime.

This account allows inmates to purchase items that are available at the commissary, such as food, drinks, games, and cosmetics while they are incarcerated at this facility.

If you wish to "put money on the books", you may do so with cash, a government check or a money order.  No other forms of payment will be accepted.  Each inmate is allowed to have a maximum of $500 in his account at any one time.

If you wish to deposit money in person, you may do so at the Jail's cashier's office Monday through Thursday from 6:30pm to 1:30am or Friday through Sunday from 8:00am to 1:30am.  You could alternatively deposit the money 24 hours a day / 7 days a week at the Intake Release Center ("IRC") located at

550 North Flower Street
Santa Ana, CA 92703.

Theo Lacy's cashier's offices will accept either cash or a money order payable to the Orange County Sheriff's Department that includes the inmate's name and booking number.

If you wish to make a deposit by mail, you are prohibited from sending cash.  You may, however, send a properly endorsed money order, cashier's check or government check.  And be sure to comply with the additional rules and regulations that pertain to mail described above under Section 5. Rules and Regulations Regarding Mail Correspondence.

7. Inmate Services

The Theo Lacy Jail Facility offers its inmates a variety of services.  Some of these include:

  • television access,
  • outdoor recreation,
  • access to local newspapers,
  • a commissary,
  • medical and dental care,
  • religious services (conducted by chaplains from a wide variety of religious denominations),
  • vocational and educational programs,
  • substance abuse treatment, and
  • the opportunity to work in the Jail's kitchen or other facilities to earn "work-time" credits to reduce their sentence.

8. Procedures Regarding the Return of Property at Theo Lacy Jail

When inmates are taken to Theo Lacy, any property they have at the time of arrest is collected and stored.  This property is typically stored until the inmate is released.  However, an inmate may designate a friend/family member to collect it on his behalf.

If you know that an inmate would like you to pick up his property, you can fill out a property release form at a regular visit.  A staff member will have the inmate sign the form, and then you will be able to retrieve his property within 7 days of the request during those same hours.

Clothing will not be released unless you provide an exchange.

9. Theo Lacy's Community Work Program

Eligible inmates may qualify to participate in the County's Community Work Program ("CWP").  Under this program, participants are still considered inmates at Theo Lacy...and are still subject to specific rules and regulations...but are allowed to perform work for the county in lieu of serving their jail sentence.

Participants work ten-hour days, each of which is equivalent to a 24-hour period of jail time.  And because this program is only offered to low-risk offenders, it allows them to go home at night instead of remaining in the Jail.

Some of the criteria for eligibility include (but are not limited to):

  • a county jail sentence of 150 days or less (for a crime that is not violent or sex-related),
  • no active warrants or holds,
  • physically fit to perform manual labor,
  • permanent Orange County resident status,
  • being able to provide one's own transportation, and
  • payment of a $90 application fee.

This type of alternative sentencing option is simply one reason why it is so important to consult with a local criminal defense attorney.  Only a lawyer who has experience with Orange County's court system knows that these types of sentencing alternatives are available...and, more importantly, knows  how to persuade a judge that his client should be approved for this type of alternative sentence.

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If you or loved one is charged with a crime and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

1Our Orange County criminal defense attorneys serve the areas of Newport Beach, Fullerton, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Santa Ana, Anaheim and Westminster.  In addition, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers have local law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier.

2Our Santa Ana criminal defense attorneys have a local law office located at
500 North State College Blvd., Suite 1100
Orange, CA 92868
(714) 288-9455

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The attorneys at Shouse Law Group bring more than 100 years collective experience fighting for individuals. We're ready to fight for you. Call us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 855-LAW-FIRM for a free case evaluation.

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