Metropolitan Detention Center - Los Angeles

Metropolitan Detention Center - Los Angeles, or MDC Los Angeles, is an administrative detention center in downtown Los Angeles that holds male and female prisoners prior to and during court proceedings. It also houses inmates who are serving short sentences.

Inmates at the MDC are housed in two-person rooms that have wooden doors instead of iron bars. There are also plate glass windows, balconies, and atriums.

The 272,0000-square-foot prison opened in December 1988, making Los Angeles the fifth city in the United States to have a downtown federal prison. People say it looks like an office building, not a prison, and it was the first prison in the federal Bureau of Prisons to ban smoking.

The building is located two blocks from the US District Courthouse, making prisoner transport much easier.

The current inmate population is currently 718. There is one person incarcerated at MDC Los Angeles who is serving a life sentence - Jose Cabrera Sablan - who pleaded guilty to murdering correctional officer Jose Rivera at USP, Atwater on June 20, 2008.

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Visiting Hours and Rules

Visitation procedures and schedule are conducted by floor. Visiting hours will occur from 2:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

Time allotted for visits will be 1.5 hours.

Visits for holidays will be for the floor the holiday falls on. The hours allotted will be from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 pm, on all identified Federal Holidays.

Because the visitation schedule is based on the floor the inmate lives on, please call the MDC directly to get the detailed visiting information for your loved one.

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 or she 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 and receive a hand stamp.

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 to visitors for the storage of personal items not allowed in the institution. Visitors will be required to place all personal articles and handbags in these lockers prior to security screening. No bags of any kind will be permitted into the visiting room.

Cell phones, pagers, cameras, or devices of any type are not authorized inside the institution.

The following infant care items are allowed: one pacifier, one diaper, one 8 oz. clear plastic bottle with contents, and one baby blanket.

Visitors are required to dress appropriately.

Visitors will not be allowed to wear:

  • medical scrubs
  • bathing suits
  • Sweatshirts
  • sweat pants
  • jackets (unless worn with suit)
  • shorts of any kind
  • see-through garments (including arms)
  • mesh or bare back clothing
  • low cut blouses
  • any dresses or skirts which are more than two inch above knee cap
  • Leotards
  • stretch pants
  • crop tops
  • halter tops
  • tube tops
  • form fitted or tight clothing
  • hats
  • open toe shoes
  • dress or skirt with a high-cut split in the back, front or side
  • sleeveless garments
  • caps or hoods
  • Scarves
  • solid white or grey t-shirts
  • khaki or green military-type clothing of any kind

Questionable attire will be evaluated by the Operations Lieutenant for appropriateness for entry.

Children under five years of age are permitted to wear shorts, sweatpants or sweat shirts.

Samples of non-authorized items are depicted in the front lobby for review.

Physical Address


Driving Directions:

General Phone Number & Email Address

Phone: 213-485-0439
Email: LOS/[email protected]

Inmate Mailing Address(es)

P.O. BOX 1500

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 MDC Los Angeles.
  • 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

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Non-Residential Drug Abuse Program (NR-DAP)
  • Crisis intervention and support for drug and alcohol detox
  • Drug Education Class
  • Literacy
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • GED
  • High School Diploma (via paid correspondence)
  • Post-Secondary Programs (via paid correspondence)
  • Indoor and outdoor recreation

Pictures of Metropolitan Detention Center - Los Angeles

Careers at Metropolitan Detention Center - Los Angeles

If you are interested in pursuing a career with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, you can find available positions at MDC Los Angeles 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 MDC Los Angeles say that it is a good place to work, and the work/life balance, salary, and benefits are average.