South Bay Detention Facility - Jail Information


south bay detention facility
South Bay Detention Facility 500 Third Ave Chula Vista, CA 91910. image c/o google

Under the jurisdiction of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, the South Bay Detention Facility (SBDF) is situated in the South Bay Regional Justice Center in Chula Vista, CA. For adult male inmates only, this jail includes no booking or intake function. Arrested individuals may be transferred to SBDF after booking at one of the other San Diego County correctional facilities.

“Guests” of the 386-bed South Bay Detention Center include detainees and inmates sentenced for California misdemeanor and felony crimes. The majority of inmates here are awaiting sentencing or serving sentences of one year or less.

The South Bay Jail is located about 20 miles south of downtown San Diego and about 10 miles from the Mexican border. The physical address and main phone number of the jail is:

South Bay Detention Facility
500 Third Ave
Chula Vista, CA 91910
(619) 213-1433

The detailed information below is provided for incoming Chula Vista Jail inmates and their family and friends. Sponsored by the California criminal defense lawyers team, this page covers the following topics:

1. Inmate Search

The San Diego Sheriff's Department provides an online search engine you can use to determine if your loved one is currently in custody at the South Bay Detention Center. Inputting the first few letters of your friend/relative's name on the “Who's in Jail” link, you will call up a list of potential candidates. Each is identified by birthdate, as well as height, weight, and other physical characteristics.

The site provides information regarding all recently booked individuals, including:

  • Date and time of arrest
  • Assigned booking ID#
  • Criminal charges
  • Scheduled court date
  • Projected release date (if applicable)

To locate someone may have been taken into custody at SBDF, you can also call the jail directly at (619) 213-1433.

2. Posting Bail

Most criminal detainees are eligible for temporary release from incarceration through payment of a bail bond. Generally, bail payment will be collected at the jail or you can use the (fee-based) services of a licensed bail bondsman. For specifics regarding bail bonding options for your friend or loved one, call the jail at (619) 213-1433.

3. Communication with SBDF Inmates

Under California law, a newly booked jail detainee can make at least three local phone calls. These calls may be used to notify loved ones of the arrest, as well as to seek the counsel of a criminal attorney.

SBDF inmates cannot accept incoming calls from friends and family, but may place collect calls from phones located in the common areas of the jail. To fund phone service for your inmate, you can set up an account online through Securus, or call the company at (800) 844-6591. Choose between direct monthly billing, an “Advance Connect” plan, or provide debit funds for the inmate to manage as desired. Be aware that all inmate phone services are subject to Securus fees.

The Chula Vista Jail also allows inmates to receive personal e-mail messages. This application is facilitated through the San Diego County Sheriff's online “Who's in Jail” link. The website provides detailed information and instructions for e-mailing.

It is important to remain aware that all inmate phone calls are subject to monitoring and recording at the jail. Therefore, to avoid the possibility of causing harm to your friend or loved one's case, it is wise to refrain from speaking about criminal charges.

4. Cash Account Funding

Inmates at the South Bay Correctional Facility are provided meals and basic personal necessities at no charge. Additional comfort items such as snack foods, toiletries, envelopes/stamps, and over-the-counter medication are available for purchase from the jail's weekly commissary. Purchases are funded through an inmate trust account established at the time of booking.

Initially started with monies confiscated from the inmate, the cash account can be supplemented by family and friends in any of the following ways:

  • In person - “TouchPay” kiosks located in the public lobby of the jail are accessible daily from 6:30 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. The machines only allow exact change deposits using $20 bills or smaller.
  • Online – The “Who's in Jail” link on the Sheriff's website accepts credit/debit card deposits. Additionally, go to for the option to order gift packs for inmates.
  • Mail -- Money orders are accepted for commissary account deposits, but personal and third-party checks are not.

Note: Inmates at the Chula Vista Detention Center have a commissary account balance limit of $500 maximum. For questions about deposits for commissary, call the Sheriff's commissary phone line at (619) 661-2860.

South Bay Detention Facility Visiting Hours
South Bay Detention Facility Visiting Hours

5. Inmate Visitation

Visiting hours at the South Bay Detention Facility are available every day except Tuesday and Wednesday. The SBDF visitation schedule varies according to the specific housing area of residence, but the earliest appointments begin at 8:00 a.m. and the latest timeslot is 8:30 p.m.

Note that Chula Vista Jail inmates are allowed one 30-minute visit a day, and a maximum of two visits a week. (The week is from Sunday to Saturday.) Visits are non-contact, so you will be speaking through a window and audio handset.

Reservations for jail visits can be made through the “Who's in Jail” website application. This function is available 24 hours a day, Wednesday through Monday. (For help, see detailed instructions in English or in Spanish.) You can also make visitation appointments by calling the jail at (619) 213-1433. These calls are taken Wednesday through Monday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Visit reservations should generally be made 24 hours in advance. Same day, “walk-in” visits may be accepted at this facility on a first-come, first-served basis.

Visitation rules at the San Diego South Bay Jail are as follows:

  • All visitors must be present one hour before the scheduled visit to check in. (If you are late, the visit may be cancelled.)
  • Valid government-issued photo identification (or current high school identification) must be presented.
  • A maximum of 3 visitors, including children, are permitted during each appointment.
  • Minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
  • You must obtain advanced written permission from the jail administrator if: you are a convicted felon; you are currently on parole; or you have been released from jail in the past 90 days. Use this form to make a visit request.

Please remember, all visits are subject to monitoring/recording, and incriminating statements pertaining to an inmate's case can be used against him in court.

6. Postal Mail Policies

Inmates and their loved ones can send unlimited quantities of postal mail to and from the Chula Vista Correctional Facility. Outgoing, personal correspondence supplies and postage must be purchased through commissary. However, materials for posting two personal letters a week will be provided to inmates who are without commissary funds.

All mail for inmates should include your name and return address in the upper left corner of the envelope. Address your correspondence as follows:

Full name and booking number of inmate
South Bay Detention Facility
500 Third Ave
Chula Vista, CA 91910

You may include standard-size photographs of 4” x 6” or smaller in your correspondence. Polaroid pictures, however, are not accepted. Many other items are prohibited for Chula Vista Correctional Facility inmates and should not be sent through the mail. These include:

  • Cash bills or coins
  • Tobacco products or drug-related material
  • Postage stamps or any other correspondence supplies
  • Multilayered greeting cards including those with music or pop-ups
  • Colored paper, construction paper, tracing paper, confetti or glitter
  • Crayon, paint, chalk, markers, or whiteout
  • Stickers, labels, glue, staples, tape or string
  • Items containing metal, glass, wood, foil, rubber, or hard plastic
  • Nude photos or any sexually explicit material
  • Books, newspapers or magazines
  • Items larger than 8.5” x 14”
  • Any material related to gang activity or advocating violence, crime, or racial hatred
  • Organic substances including locks of hair, pressed flowers or leaves
  • Items containing scent of any kind, lipstick marks or stains

Brand new, soft-cover books and magazines can be ordered for South Bay Jail inmates. These must be ordered and sent to the inmate directly from a publisher or vendor (such as or Barnes and Noble).

7. Life and Health at SBDF

There are four housing modules in the South Bay Correctional Facility accommodating level one through level five inmates. With the goal of promoting safety and security in the jail, inmates are classified and housed according to their criminal history, gang affiliation, current charges, and other factors.

The Chula Vista Detention Center provides basic medical care, including on-site nursing treatment and access to a doctor four hours per week. Medical co-pays of $3.00 are assessed for unit services. The co-pays are taken from the inmate trust account, but lack of funds will not preclude necessary services and medication. When required, hospital or clinic transportation is provided.

The South Bay Jail does not typically accept prescription medication provided by family members. Necessary prescriptions can be ordered through the jail pharmacy. If you would like to discuss an inmate's medical or special dietary needs, call the jail at (619) 213-1433.

SBDF inmates accepted into the jail's behavior-modification program are eligible to live in an incentive-based housing module. Geared toward managing stress and recognizing dysfunctional thought patterns, the program includes classes in cognitive behavior therapy, anger management, and mindfulness. Low-security inmates also have opportunities to work in the jail kitchen or laundry or perform janitorial, maintenance, or painting services.

San Diego County provides detailed information regarding Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) policies at the correctional facilities. There is stated a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual assault, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct at the SBDF jail. Inmate complaints and third-party incident reports are accepted and investigated.

8. Alternative Sentencing Provisions

Inmates who receive judicial approval for work release may apply for a San Diego County alternative custody program. The Work Furlough program, run by the Probation Department, allows inmates to work or attend school while living in a Work Furlough Facility in downtown San Diego. There is a daily fee of $42 to participate in this program.

Alternatively, qualifying inmates can apply for the Home Monitoring Detention program (utilizing a Global Position System (GPS) ankle device) or for the opportunity to participate in the “Fire Camp” program. More information about alternative custody arrangements can be obtained on the San Diego County Sheriff's website or by calling the jail.

9. Seek Counsel from a Criminal Lawyer

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Call us for help at (855) 396-0370

If you or your loved one need legal counsel after an arrest, contact the experienced criminal attorneys at the California Legal Defense Group. Our attorneys assist individuals accused of all types of state and federal crimes, and have been instrumental in helping many maintain their freedom and clean record. For a free consultation and case assessment, please call (855) 396-0370 or contact us online today.

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