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Valley State Prison: Understanding Its History, Facilities, and Programs

Valley State Prison (VSP) is a correctional facility located in the heart of California’s central valley. This facility is managed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and is designed to house male inmates who have been convicted of crimes and sentenced to serve time in state prison. In this article, we will take a closer look at VSP, its history, facilities, and programs. We will also discuss some of the challenges facing the facility and the ways in which VSP is working to address these challenges.

Visiting Valley State Prison

For loved ones and friends of inmates, visiting is an essential way to maintain connections. Valley State Prison welcomes visitors on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am to 3 pm. It’s important to note that visitors arriving after 2 pm will not be admitted to visitation. Inmates in reception or administrative segregation have specific visitation hours, which are limited to Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 12 pm.

To streamline the visitation process, visitors have the option to schedule appointments online, although it’s not mandatory.

Contact Information

Should you need to reach Valley State Prison for any inquiries or concerns, you can use the following contact information:

  • Physical Address: Valley State Prison for Women 21633 Avenue 24 Chowchilla, CA 93610
  • Telephone: (559) 665-6100
  • Inmate Mailing Address: Inmate Name, ID Number Valley State Prison PO Box 92 Chowchilla, CA 93610-0092
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History of Valley State Prison

VSP was originally built in 1952 as a youth correctional facility known as the Valley State School for Girls. In the early 1980s, the facility was converted into a male prison due to overcrowding in California’s prison system. Over the years, VSP has undergone a number of changes and improvements, including the addition of new buildings and facilities to accommodate the growing inmate population.

Facilities at Valley State Prison

VSP is a large facility that covers more than 1,000 acres. The prison has a number of different housing units, including general population housing, administrative segregation units, and a mental health treatment center. The prison also has a number of educational and vocational programs designed to help inmates learn new skills and prepare for life after release.

In addition to its housing units and educational programs, VSP also has a number of recreational facilities, including a gymnasium, weight room, and outdoor sports fields. The prison also has a medical facility that provides a range of healthcare services to inmates.

Programs at Valley State Prison

VSP offers a number of programs designed to help inmates prepare for their eventual release and reintegrate into society. These programs include educational programs, vocational training, substance abuse treatment, and mental health services. The prison also has a number of programs designed to help inmates maintain family connections while they are incarcerated.

One of the most popular programs at VSP is the Paws for Life program, which pairs inmates with dogs that are in need of training and socialization. This program has been shown to have a positive impact on both the inmates and the dogs involved, and has helped to reduce violence and tension within the prison.

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Challenges Facing Valley State Prison

Like many prisons, VSP faces a number of challenges, including overcrowding, violence, and limited resources. The prison has also faced criticism for its use of solitary confinement and for the conditions in its mental health treatment center.

To address these challenges, VSP has implemented a number of reforms in recent years. These include expanding educational and vocational programs, increasing staff training, and improving mental health services for inmates. The prison has also worked to reduce its use of solitary confinement and to provide more opportunities for inmates to engage in positive activities and programs.


Valley State Prison is an important correctional facility that plays a critical role in California’s criminal justice system. While the prison faces a number of challenges, it is working hard to address these challenges and to provide inmates with the resources and support they need to succeed both during and after their time in prison.


  1. What is the current inmate population at VSP?
  • As of 2023, the inmate population at VSP is approximately 3,500.
  1. What kind of educational programs are available to inmates at VSP?
  • VSP offers a range of educational programs, including adult basic education, high school equivalency programs, and college courses.
  1. How does the Paws for Life program work?
  • In the Paws for Life program, inmates are paired with dogs that are in need of training and socialization. The inmates work with the dogs on a daily basis, providing continual training and care while learning valuable skills and building positive relationships.
  1. How has VSP addressed issues of violence within the prison?
  • VSP has implemented a number of strategies to address violence, including increased staff training, improved mental health services, and expanded programs that help inmates learn conflict resolution skills and positive communication techniques.
  1. What is VSP doing to reduce overcrowding in the prison?
  • VSP has worked to reduce overcrowding by implementing alternative sentencing programs, increasing the use of community supervision, and expanding programs that help inmates prepare for reentry and successful reintegration into society.
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