Federal Detention Center - Houston

Federal Detention Center - Houston, or FDC Houston, is an 11-story administrative security facility in downtown Houston that houses a total of 676 male and female offenders of all security levels. FDC Houston is used to house inmates that are in the pre-trial stage or those that are on rollover status.

Inmates detained at FDC Houston are housed in one of four housing units. Each housing unit has a different bunk arrangement from two-person cells to more open living in a dormitory.

This Federal institution was opened in 1999. Since those doors opened and this facility became fully operational, its most notable incident would be a conspiracy to kidnap and kill US District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa.

In 2006, inmate Joel Lopez was sentenced by Judge Hinojosa to life in prison for a drug conviction. According to the indictment, Lopez approached an inmate that was getting ready to be released, and offered him two million dollars in exchange for the murders of Hinojosa and another unnamed woman that was in debt to him prior to his incarceration.

Alleged instructions were to contact Lopez’s wife for details on exactly what needed to be done and how to do it.  In the end, Lopez pleaded guilty of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder-for-hire adding another life sentence, giving him a total of two life sentences in prison. Lopez’s wife plead guilty to the same charge and testified against her husband in exchange for a much shorter sentence of nine years.

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Federal Detention Center - Houston

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Visiting Hours and Rules

Visiting hours for FDC Houston occur on a rotating basis, according to the unit in which the inmate is assigned. Please touch base with your loved one before you show up for a visit to ensure you arrive at the designated visiting time.

The basic structure set for visits is Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, and Federal Holidays from 8:00 am to 11:00 am and 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm.

On Mondays and Thursdays, there is also a visiting time of 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

You must contact your loved one for a more specific time frame.

The maximum of visitors allowed per inmate is four. This number includes children.

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 may bring the following items into the institution:

  • Identification
  • Money
  • Infant care items consisting of one pacifier, two diapers, five diaper wipes, one clearsee-through baby bottle with contents, and one infant size blanket, in a one gallonclear zip lock bag. No other bags are allowed.
  • Necessary medication such as asthma sprayer or nitroglycerin tablets

Visitors are not authorized to bring any item into the institution to give to an inmate. Lockers are not available to visitors for the storage of personal items not allowed in the institution. These items must be returned to the inmate visitor's personal vehicle.

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

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.

  • Adult visitors will not be allowed to wear
  • Revealing shorts or sun dresses
  • Halter tops, bathing suits, see-through garments of any type
  • Crop tops, low cut blouses or dresses, leotards, spandex, or miniskirts
  • Backless tops, hats or caps, any sleeveless garment
  • Any skirt approximately two inches or more above the knee
  • Any dress or skirt with a high cut split in the back or front or side
  • Any clothing similar to inmate clothing such as khaki or green military type clothing

Due to safety and health concerns, only closed toed shoes are allowed.

Clothing that is questionable will be brought to the attention of the Operations Lieutenant or, in the event the Operations Lieutenant is unavailable, to the attention of the Institution Duty Officer (IDO).

Physical Address

HOUSTON, TX  77002

Driving Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/TwzrWBcKBgC2

General Phone Number & Email Address

Phone: 713-221-5400
Email: HOU/[email protected]

Inmate Mailing Address(es)

Inmate Name and Registration Number
FDC Houston
Federal Detention Center
P.O. Box 526255
Houston, TX 77052

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 FDC Houston.
  • Gather the information you'll need. Which includes the inmate’s name and number.
  • Visit moneygram.com 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 westernunion.com. 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

  • Drug Abuse Education Course
  • Non-Residential Drug Abuse Program (NR-DAP)
  • Literacy
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • GED
  • College Program for an Associates Degree in Business
  • High School Diploma (via paid correspondence)
  • Post-Secondary Programs (via paid correspondence)

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Careers at Federal Detention Center - Houston

If you are interested in pursuing a career with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, you can find available positions at FDC Houston by visiting USAJobs.gov. 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 FDC Houston report that it was a stressful work environment and highly recommend possessing a strong work ethic before employment with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The work/life balance is okay, but sometimes overtime required. Salary and benefits are considered to be worth it and are the best part of the job.