Chula Vista South Bay Detention Facility

The South Bay Detention Facility, which is under the jurisdiction of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, is found in the City of Chula Vista. It is one of the seven detention facilities in the county. Since 1982, SBDF has been providing services to inmates in the region through its low and high-level inmate classification. It is conveniently housed four stories down in the same building as the South Bay Regional Justice Center, on 500 Third Avenue. The Board of State and Community Corrections established the capacity of the detention center as 386 inmates, who occupy the two levels that make up the SBDF. If a loved one is being held at this facility, you’ll probably need the help of a good Chula Vista bail bonds company.

Management of Inmates

SBDF offers a broad range of services to inmates from the moment they step inside, and that is made possible by the different people who work in the facility. A Watch Commander is responsible for managing affairs at the facility with the help of a dozen or so deputies. The staff also includes other professionals, who handle the various needs of the inmates. For minor ailments and injuries, the detention center has a qualified medical team in place to care for patients. Additionally, there are workers in the processing department who deal with most of the matters involving inmates like visitations from family, management of court appearances, and financial transactions including bail.

Inmates at SBDF also have access to a full-time counselor who is responsible for the recovery program, and any other personal needs of inmates. For individuals who have alcohol and/or drug abuse problem, the facility encourages positive change by encouraging Alcoholic and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Certified counselors are entrusted with these meetings, which they conduct in both Spanish and English. Inmates can also attend bible study and church services, which are bilingual as well.

Mail Services

As with all counties, San Diego recognizes the need for inmates to maintain contact with their family members and friends. Individuals incarcerated in SBDF can communicate by written correspondence through postcards or letters. The commissary at the facility sells pre-stamped envelopes that inmates can use. Inmates are allowed to have funds in the commissary, which they can use at will. The detention center does not limit the number of letters and postcards that an inmate can send. For incoming mail, the envelope must be addressed in a specific manner, which is laid out on the Sheriff’s website.

SBDF has restrictions on what can be included in mailed correspondence so anyone sending letters should find out about that. Photographs must be a certain size and should not contain any explicit content. Unknown substances or fragile articles should not be put in the mail. Items that may compromise the safety of the inmates or staff are prohibited. Inmates are also not allowed to receive correspondence material such as stamps, envelopes, or paper.


The South Bay Detention Facility allows individuals to schedule visits through the online portal or by phone. Telephone visit reservations are only available from 10 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon on Mondays through to Wednesday. The SDC Sheriff’s department posts the visitation days on its website so visitors should check first before making an appointment. For persons who are on parole or probation, it is necessary to get authorization first before booking a social visit. Inmates who already have a court date can’t receive visitors on that day.

Visitors must arrive at the facility an hour before the appointed hour to provide sufficient time for security procedures. Inmates can receive two social visits every week, each one lasting half an hour. The detention center requires visitors to present some form of valid photo identification during a visit, and this includes driver’s license, passport, or any federal/state ID. High school identification is acceptable for minors without ID cards. Other details which are necessary during a visit are the name, date of birth, phone number, current home address and relationship to the inmate.

Every inmate can have three guests at most, including minors who must have the supervision of a parent or guardian. It is possible for SBDF to cancel a scheduled visit without notice while sometimes a cancellation may arise due to change in the working assignments of an inmate. Cancellation by the appointed visitor must be in person at the facility. The website for the South Bay Detention Facility offers plenty of information for those who need it.

South Bay Detention Facility


Published by Jose Espinoza, ,