Due to the record number of inmates currently housed in prison in California, as of 2013 all 33 CDCR prisons are now at or above maximum operational capacity, and 29 of the prisons are so overcrowded that the CDCR is required to house more than 15,000 inmates in conditions that pose substantial safety risks, namely, prison areas never designed or intended for inmate housing, including, but not limited to, common areas such as prison gymnasiums, dayrooms, and program rooms, with approximately 1,500 inmates sleeping in triple-bunks; and the current severe overcrowding in 29 CDCR prisons has caused substantial risk to the health and safety of the men and women who work inside these prisons and the inmates housed in them.

General Guidelines & Regulations:
Individuals are free to contact any state prison inmate by mail. All and every incoming letters are opened and inspected for contraband and then the inmate receives the letters. This slows down the process of the time of how fast the  inmate will receive the letter. To ensure prompt processing the following information should be included on the envelope:
• Inmate’s full name, CDC#
• Institution Name
• P.O. Box Housing (preferable)
• City, CA ZIP
To get an inmate’s CDC# or housing assignment, individuals should call the Public Information Officer (PIO) or the inmate locator at the institution web site. Those people who don’t know where an inmate is housed may contact the Department’s ID Warrants unit at (916) 445-6713. A date of birth will be required if the person they are inquiring about has a common name. ID Warrants will not provide inmate-housing information.

Why Should You Write to an Inmate?
Understanding the process may vary for many people when someone is imprisoned for a long period of time. That’s when your family is needed the most and it allows a close relationship to be maintained during the period of incarnation. For first offenders it is a very scary and confusing time in their lives, some have made a mistake for the first time and never have experienced jail. Being confined and having your human rights taken away can be a very traumatizing time. Letters from family members often let the inmate know that he or she is not alone.  Even though this is a not so enjoyable time, letters are very important. For families that can’t understand why this happened and is upset at their love one’s, it’s important to remember that these feeling are temporary and will eventually go away. Everyone makes mistakes and some of the mistakes land us in trouble with the law. Family is the only way a person in custody have any access to the outside world. It helps in the healing process and state of mind.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR ALL VISITORS
Visitors entering CDC institutions/facilities are subject to a search of their person, vehicle and property to the degree necessary to ensure institution/facility security, and prevent the introduction of contraband. Visitors may leave the institution grounds rather than to submit to a search of their person, vehicle or property. However, refusal to submit to the search will result in the denial of visitation for that day. Visitors may not elect to leave the institution grounds rather than submit to a search when institution officials possess a court-ordered search warrant or the cause for a search warrant arises while the visitor is on institution grounds.The prison may be surrounded by an electric fence. To protect visitors, especially children, from being injured, visitors are cautioned to stay away from the perimeter fence line. It is a crime to try and help an inmate to escape. You may not at any item bring onto the prison grounds any weapon, firearm, ammunition, explosive device, tear gas, pepper-spray, alcohol or controlled substance, cameras and/or recording devices, take letters and/or written documents to or from an inmate. You cannot lie about who you are; you must identify yourself to gain admission to the institution. If you have had any prior convictions of a felony, you may not enter onto the grounds.

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