Metropolitan Correctional Center - San Diego

Metropolitan Correctional Center San Diego, or MCC San Diego, is an administrative facility housing both male and female offenders of all security levels. According to the BOP website, the current total population is 938 inmates, but it can house a maximum of 1,300 inmates.

MCC San Diego stands 23 stories tall and it opened in December of 1974 as the first high-rise in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The huge building is separated into nine housing units, and each housing unit contains 48 cells which are either divided into dormitories or two-person cells.

Most of the prisoners held at MCC San Diego have pending cases in the US District Court for Southern California, but it also houses prisoners who are serving brief sentences.

Notable inmates at MCC San Diego include brothers Fidel Villarreal & Raul Villarreal, former US Border Patrol Agents who are serving sentences of 35 and 30 years, respectively. They were convicted in 2012 of operating a human smuggling ring. The operation brought over 1,000 illegal immigrants into the United States from Mexico in exchange for $1 million in bribes.

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Metropolitan Correctional Center - San Diego

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Visiting Hours and Rules

Visiting hours at MCC San Diego are from 4:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays. and Fridays; and from 8:0 0a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays.

Visits are conducted on an odd/even basis determined by the fifth digit of the inmate’s register number. Inmates are allowed one hour of visiting every other visiting day, and only one visiting period will be permitted on each assigned day.

Inmates are allowed a maximum of three visitors at one time. Infants and small children under the age of two who can be held on the lap of an adult will not counted as a visitor.

Getting on the Approved Visit List

Authorized visitors who can visit an inmate include family, friends, and associates. You can't visit an inmate unless he puts you on the visiting list.

Everyone must fill out a visitor form, and they must have a relationship with the inmate prior to incarceration. If a potential visitor does not have a prior relationship with the inmate, their request will be reviewed by the warden.

Once the inmate requests to add someone to their visit list, a correctional counselor will provide them with a visiting form, and the inmate is responsible for mailing these out and letting the potential visitor know that they need to fill out the form and return it to the institution staff.

The unit team will do a background check and determine if a visitor application is approved. They make their decision based on constructive and security factors. The process takes about a week, and the unit staff will notify the inmate when the requested visitor is approved or refused.

It is the inmate’s responsibility to notify the visitor of the decision, and the process is the same for both adult and minor visitors.

Basic Visit Procedures and Rules

If you are 16 years of age or older, you must bring a valid photo ID with you to the visit, like a state or federal ID card, driver's license, or current passport. Birth certificates are not valid forms of ID.

All visitors are subject to a visual and pat search by an officer. You will also be scanned by a metal detector.

Any item you bring into the facility will be opened and searched by a staff member, and anyone who refuses a search of themselves or their property will not be allowed to visit with the inmate.

Visitors are not authorized to bring any item into the institution to give to an inmate. Lockers are available in the Front Lobby for storage of any personal items not allowed in the visiting rooms.

All packages, handbags, shopping bags, briefcases, pagers, cellular phones, food, drinks, tobacco, gum, candy etc. are prohibited.

Visitors are required to place all carried items in the lockers prior to entrance into the institution. The only exception is infant care items to include:

  • one baby blanket
  • one diaper
  • one clear plastic bottle with baby formula/milk
  • one pacifier

Authorized items entering the visiting room must be carried in a clear plastic container/bag reasonable in size to accommodate approved baby items, eye glasses, and/or medication.

Visitors should dress within the bounds of good taste and should not wear clothing which would offend others who may be present in the visiting room.

The following apparel is prohibited:

  • Sport jerseys
  • Shorts
  • Spandex clothing
  • Sweatshirts or sweatpants
  • Warm-up suits
  • Jackets
  • Mesh or fishnet clothing
  • Sleeveless garments to include garments with partial sleeves exposing the armpit area
  • Bareback clothing, plunging necklines, low cut blouses, crop tops
  • Hooded blouses, halter tops, tube tops, mid-drift shirts
  • Transparent clothing
  • Camisoles, chemises
  • Bathing suits
  • Sweaters
  • Wrap-around skirts, miniskirts, sun dresses
  • Cotton athletic sweats and plain white t-shirts
  • Tan or khaki colored shirts or pants
  • Medical scrubs/surgical gowns
  • Skirts and dresses more than three inches above the knee

Visitors are not allowed to wear hats or head garments, unless medical or religious reasons dictate that they are necessary. 

No bare feet permitted, except for infants. All visitors must wear shoes.

Children under five years of age are permitted to wear shorts, sweat pants, or sweatshirts.

Clothing which interferes with the operation of the metal detector or other security devices which cannot be reasonably inspected will not be permitted unless medical reasons dictate that they are necessary. These items include underwire bras, garter belts,clothing with costume jewelry, large metal buttons, etc.

Any questions regarding proper attire will be directed to the Operations Lieutenant or IDO, before a visitor is denied entrance.

Physical Address

SAN DIEGO, CA  92101

Driving Directions:

General Phone Number & Email Address

Phone: 619-232-4311
Email: SDC/[email protected]

Inmate Mailing Address(es)


There is no limit on the amount of mail that inmates receive, but all correspondence must have the inmate’s complete name, registration number, facility name, and address.

You can only send cards or letters to these addresses. Paperback books, newspapers, and magazines must come directly from the publisher via a subscription or mail order.

Inmates cannot receive packages through the mail, with the exception of a package of release day clothing. You can't send the release day package until 30 days prior to the scheduled release date.

How to Call an Inmate

Federal inmates are not allowed to have cellphones and they can't receive inbound calls. They can make outbound calls during approved hours, and they must pay for them with the money that is on their personal account or call collect.

Inmates will use TRULINCS to call to both landline and cell phones. This is also how inmates are able to send and receive emails. Your number must be added to the contact list for approval.

All phone calls are limited to 15 minutes, and will be monitored and recorded.

How to Send Money

Sending money is one of most important things you can do for an inmate. The prison will issue each prisoner the minimum amount of clothing and hygiene items, and provide them with three meals a day. But, it is extremely difficult for prisoners to have any level of comfort when living with just the items that are prison-issued.

Inmates can receive outside funds while incarcerated at a BOP-managed facility, which are deposited into their commissary accounts.

Postal Service

For federal prisoners, you can send money through the United States Postal Service by MONEY ORDER to the following address:

Federal Bureau of Prisons
Inmate Name
Eight-Digit Register Number
Post Office Box 474701
Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001

Send the funds to the address above. Replace the second line with the inmate's valid, full committed name. Replace the third line with the inmate's eight digit register number.

Never send money directly to the prison. If you are using the postal service, you must always send your money order to the bureau of prisons using the above address.


You can send an inmate funds electronically using MoneyGram's Express Payment Program.To send funds using this method, please read and follow these steps carefully:

  • Wait until an inmate has physically arrived at MCC San Diego.
  • Gather the information you'll need. Which includes the inmate’s name and number.
  • Visit to complete your payment.

Information needed to complete MoneyGram payment:

  • Account Number: Inmate's eight-digit register number with no spaces or dashes, followed immediately by the inmate's last name (example: 12345678DOE).
  • Company Name: Federal Bureau of Prisons
  • City & State: Washington, DC
  • Receive Code is always: 7932
  • Beneficiary: Inmate's full committed name

Western Union

If you would like to see a sample Western Union form click here. On their website, they have a special form for sending money to inmates, and you go directly to it by clicking here.

You will need to know the inmate’s full name and number, and you can pay with a debit or credit card at Remember, any time you send money to an inmate you must always include their name and registration number on everything.

There are a few things that inmates can spend their money on. This includes phone calls, emails, and commissary.  The commissary is the prison store, where inmates can buy things like beverages, meals and snacks, OTC medications, stationary, personal hygiene items, clothing, or other miscellaneous products.

Please be aware that prisoners have their own economy inside the prison walls just like we do in the real world. Inmates that have a lot of money can do a lot of things both legal and illegal. Prisoners can potentially use the money in their account to buy things for other inmates in exchange for drugs and paraphernalia. This activity is illegal and can get an inmate in a lot of trouble.

Is important to keep track of how much money you are sending your incarcerated loved one, and watch out for any suspicious behavior.

​Programs For ​Inmates

  • Non-Residential Drug Abuse Program (NR-DAP)
  • Drug Education Class
  • Literacy
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • GED
  • High School Diploma (via paid correspondence)
  • Post-Secondary Programs (via paid correspondence)
  • Parenting

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Careers at Metropolitan Correctional Center - San Diego

If you are interested in pursuing a career with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, you can find available positions at MCC San Diego by visiting The salaries at the facility begin around $40,000 and can go up into the six-figure range, depending on the position.

Reviews from employees at MCC San Diego report that it was a great work environment and they learned a lot. The work/life balance could be better instead of having to be on call, and the salary and benefits are considered average. Safety was a concern for some past employees, as well.