Theo Lacy Facility

The Theo Lacy Facility, a maximum security jail complex that can house as many as 3,442 inmates, sits along the Santa Ana Riverbed. Built in 1960, it was originally constructed to ease overcrowding at the Sycamore Street Jail in Santa Ana. It has expanded several times and is now Orange County’s largest facility.

Inmates of varying classifications are housed at the facility including those charged or sentenced for misdemeanors or felonies.  If a loved one is being held at this facility, you probably need the help of a good Orange County bail bonds company.  Some inmates are waiting to be transferred to state prison. It takes a dedicated staff of about 450, filling many roles, to make sure inmates are secure and well-cared for within the jail.

The Mission

Those working at Theo Lacy seek to fulfill the mission of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Custody and Courts Command which says it,” is dedicated to providing safe and secure facilities to those entrusted to our care. It is ingrained in our departmental character to uphold the law and professionally delivered with the utmost integrity. We remain ever diligent to the citizens of the County of Orange with the confidence our staff remain professional in the performance of their duties and vigilant in their efforts to safeguard the community.”

The staff at the jail give careful consideration to where each inmate will be placed within the facility. The facility has several housing types from dormitory style to individual and two-man cells. Staff looks at several factors, including current charges and past confinement before deciding where to house an inmate. The system for housing helps to keep both inmates and staff safe.


Inmates at Theo Lacy do have a level of normality in their life, though they are in jail. Inmates have access to television, mail, recreation, newspapers and other edifying programs. Inmates can also attend religious services as well as participate in educational and vocational curriculums. All health needs are met including dental, medical and mental care. There are work programs available to inmates as well.


The public is allowed to visit inmates on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays but there are important rules to follow to ensure visits go smoothly.
Visitors to the facility must show a valid identification. An inmate is only allowed one visitor per day so guests are asked to coordinate their plans so that people don’t show up for a visit only to be turned away. Visits are 30 minutes and can include children. Accommodations can be made for unaccompanied minors to visit an inmate but arrangements must be made in advance.
Visitors, who have also served as inmates of the Orange County Custody System in the last 60 days, can not visit an inmate unless they are a blood relative or a spouse. Those visits must get permission in advance.
While visiting, guests can only have their identification and their keys with them. In order to make the process go smoothly, visitors are asked to not bring things like purses, diaper bags, backpacks and other bulky items. There are lockers on site for visitors to use but there is a fee.
Parents with babies or toddlers are allowed to keep needed items like bottles, clothing, diapers and wipes with them, but those items will be subject to search. Also, nursing mothers should feel free to nurse in the visiting area but are asked to do so in a discreet manner, using covering, or the visit may be terminated.

There is an extensive list of items that can’t be brought into the Theo Lacy Facility including food, drinks, cigarettes, lighters, cell phones, laptops, and any type of electronic devices. Of course, weapons are not allowed and other items the staff deems inappropriate will be prohibited.

A complete list of rules regarding visiting the jail can be found at

Named after Theophilus Lacy, one of Orange County’s early Sheriffs, the Theo Lacy Facility has housed thousands of inmates and protected the safety of Orange County for more than 50 years.

Theo Lacy Facility


Published by Jose Espinoza, ,