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Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility: The History, Facilities, and Challenges


Hours of Operation

For those who have received approval for visitation, the facility provides opportunities to connect with inmates. Visiting hours are as follows:

  • Saturdays and Sundays: 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

It’s essential to note that visitors arriving after 1:30 PM will not be admitted to visitation. Inmates who are only allowed non-contact visits must schedule a visiting appointment online.

Contact Information

If you need to reach the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, you can use the following contact information:

  • Telephone: (619) 661-6500

Inmate Mailing

Inmates at this facility can receive mail at the following addresses, depending on their assigned facility:

  • Facility A: P.O. Box 799001, San Diego, CA 92179-9001
  • Facility B: P.O. Box 799002, San Diego, CA 92179-9002
  • Facility C: P.O. Box 799003, San Diego, CA 92179-9003
  • Facility D: P.O. Box 799004, San Diego, CA 92179-9004
  • Facility M: P.O. Box 799005, San Diego, CA 92179-9005

If you are unsure about the specific yard or facility where your inmate is located, you can address your mail as follows:

  • Inmate Name, ID Number
  • Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility
  • P.O. Box 799006, San Diego, CA 92179-9006


Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, also known as RJDCF, is a maximum-security prison located in San Diego County, California, United States. It is named after Richard J. Donovan, a decorated World War II veteran and the first San Diego resident to be elected to the California State Assembly. This article provides an overview of the history, facilities, and challenges of RJDCF.

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The facility was built in 1987 and initially housed only minimum-security inmates. However, as the number of prisoners increased in California, the state government decided to convert RJDCF into a maximum-security prison in 2000. Since then, it has become one of the most secure prisons in California, housing some of the most dangerous criminals in the state.


RJDCF has a capacity to hold up to 3,666 inmates, with a staff of approximately 1,800 employees. The facility is spread over an area of 780 acres, with more than 60 buildings that include housing units, administrative offices, and recreational facilities. There are six housing units, each of which has four yards that allow prisoners to move around and interact with other inmates. RJDCF also has a level IV maximum-security housing unit that is used to hold the most violent and dangerous inmates. The facility also has a hospice unit for terminally ill inmates.

Apart from the housing units, RJDCF has several vocational training programs, educational opportunities, and rehabilitative programs. These programs help inmates to learn new skills and prepare for their life after release. Some of the vocational training programs include welding, horticulture, and construction. RJDCF also has a college program in partnership with the San Diego Community College District.


One of the biggest challenges facing RJDCF is overcrowding. As of February 2023, the prison population at RJDCF was 127% of its designed capacity. Overcrowding can lead to an increase in violence, as well as a lack of access to rehabilitative programs for inmates. Another challenge is the lack of staffing, which has led to an increase in violence and contraband smuggling.

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RJDCF has also faced criticism for its use of solitary confinement. In 2011, the facility faced a lawsuit for violating the constitutional rights of inmates held in solitary confinement. As a result of the lawsuit, RJDCF agreed to improve the conditions of its solitary confinement units, including providing mental health treatment for inmates.


Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility is a maximum-security prison in San Diego County, California. It has a capacity of 3,666 inmates and offers vocational training programs, educational opportunities, and rehabilitative programs. However, the facility faces several challenges, including overcrowding, lack of staffing, and criticism for its use of solitary confinement.


  1. What is the capacity of RJDCF?
  • RJDCF has a capacity to hold up to 3,666 inmates.
  1. What are the vocational training programs offered at RJDCF?
  • RJDCF offers vocational training programs in welding, horticulture, and construction.
  1. What is the college program at RJDCF?
  • RJDCF has a college program in partnership with the San Diego Community College District.
  1. What is the biggest challenge facing RJDCF?
  • The biggest challenge facing RJDCF is overcrowding.
  1. Has RJDCF faced criticism for its use of solitary confinement?
  • Yes, RJDCF has faced criticism for its use of solitary confinement and has agreed to improve the conditions of its solitary confinement units.

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