California Institution for Men

California Institution for Men, or CIM, is a male-only state prison located in the city of Chino, San Bernardino County, California. It is usually called, "Chino,” and locals call the prison, "Chino Men's," or just, "Men's," so there is no confusion with the city itself.

CIM is a 2,500-acre facility located east of Los Angeles, and it has the largest Level I inmate population within the California prison system. Level I features open dormitories without a secure perimeter.

This facility has three reception centers for incoming inmates into the California prison system: Reception Center Central (medium and maximum-custody inmates), Reception Center East (medium and maximum-custody inmates with sensitive needs, HIV/CID unit, and mental health inmates), and Reception Center West (medium level custody inmates who are awaiting transfer).

CIM opened in 1941 and is the third-oldest California state prison. It has a capacity of 2,976 inmates, but currently houses more than 3,500 inmates.

This facility has multiple references in popular culture. It is a major setting in American History X, and the 1955 film Unchained was filmed at CIM and included footage of actual inmates. The film is most famous for the song Unchained Melody.

In the 1998 film The Big Lebowski, the character of Jesus Quintana was said to have served six months at Chino for exposing himself to eight year olds. And, in the TV series Sons of Anarchy, many characters served time in Chino.

Prison Insights

California Institution for Men

Go back

What Do Inmate Families Think?

Go back

What Do Former Inmates Think?

Go back

What Do Employees Think?

Go back
Sorry, there are no insights for this section of the facility yet.
Overall Score = /10
Total Respondents =

Visiting Hours and Rules

California Institution for Men has visiting hours on Saturdays, Sundays, and four holidays during each calendar year: New Year’s Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Visits usually begin between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. and end between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

To get more information about visits at CIM, you should either call the 800 Visitors’ Information number (800-374-8474) and follow the directions given on the recording, or visit the CDCR website Click on Prisons and then select California Institution for Men.

In addition to providing information regarding days and hours for visiting at CIM, the 800 Visitors’ Information number and website will also give you information on lockdowns, medical quarantines, or other circumstances that affect visiting, addresses, and directions to the prison.

Recommended Steps Before Visiting:

  1. Read Visitation Guidelines to understand what you can expect and what is expected of you
  2. Make sure your friend or loved one is incarcerated at California Institution for Men
  3. Schedule a visit online using the VPASS system
  4. The day of your scheduled visit, check the Visiting Status to ensure the institution is accepting visitors

Getting Approved for a Visit

Before you can visit an inmate at CIM, you must get approval. The process begins by completing a visitor questionnaire, but you can only get this questionnaire by having the prisoner you wish to visit mail it to you.

The prisoner must sign the questionnaire before sending it to you because the signature confirms that the prisoner has agreed to have you added to his visiting list.

Mail the completed questionnaire to:
California Institution for Men
Visiting Sergeant
PO Box 128
Chino, CA 91708-0128

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) will conduct a background check for arrests and convictions when processing your application, and they will deny approval to visit if the check indicates an arrest or conviction not listed on the questionnaire. So, be sure to fill it out completely, and be honest and thorough with your answers.

If you are approved to visit, the prisoner will be notified and then it is their job to notify you. Once you are approved, you are listed in the computer as being an approved visitor for that specific prisoner, and you do not need to bring any proof of approval with you to the prison.

You will receive a letter from the prison if you are denied, and it will give you the specific reason, and the prisoner will also receive notice of the disapproval but will not be given the reason.

Contact, Non-Contact, and Family Visits

Most prisoners are in general population and can have contact visits. At a contact visit, prisoners are allowed to sit with their visitors in a large visiting room that has tables and chairs, and there are usually many other prisoners and visitors.

You are allowed a brief hug and kiss at the beginning and end of the visit, and you are allowed to hold hands during the visit.

Contact visits are allowed a maximum of five visitors at a time.

Prisoners who are still in reception, who are segregated, or who are assigned to Behavior Management Units are only allowed to have non-contact visits.

Non-contact visits take place in a different room from the contact visits, and there is a glass partition between the prisoner and their visitors. Prison staff will escort the prisoner in handcuffs, and the handcuffs are removed only after the prisoner is secured in their side of the visiting booth.

Adults who do not wish to have children see the prisoner in restraints should wait away from the booth or glass partition until the prisoner is settled.

Non-contact visits are restricted to three visitors and are limited in time, usually one to two hours.

Some prisoners are eligible for, “family visits.” These visits occur in private, apartment-like facilities on prison grounds and last approximately 30 to 40 hours.

Family visits are restricted to approved visitors who are immediate family members (parents, children, siblings, legal spouses, or registered domestic partners) of the prisoner. Family visits have limited availability, and an inmate can usually have one family visit every three to five months.

An eligible prisoner must put in an application for a family visit with his assigned Correctional Counselor at the prison.

General Visiting Rules

All adult visitors must have a photo ID, and it must be valid and current. Minors (children under 18 years old) are required to be accompanied by an adult who is an approved visitor.

There will be a wait from the time you arrive at the prison to the time you are processed to visit. Typical wait times for processing are not excessive, but there are exceptions based on the number of staff and size of the processing center.

The wait times are usually longer first thing in the morning, when many visitors arrive all at the same time. Scheduling a visit in advance with the VPASS system will significantly reduce your wait time.

The only items you can bring into a visit are:

  • A $50 limit per adult and $20 limit per minor. You can only bring dollar bills, dollar coins, or quarters (change machines are usually available, but they may be out of order or out of change)
  • A small clear, plastic purse or bag
  • Two keys on a ring with no other attachments
  • Identification
  • A comb or brush; non-metallic, no pointed end or detachable parts
  • A small unopened pack of tissues or a handkerchief; no bandanas
  • A pair of prescription glasses
  • Ten Photographs, no larger than 8” by 10” (You can show photos to the prisoner, but you have to take them with you at the end of the visit). Photos cannot be Polaroid and may not include any sexual or gang images. The staff will look at the photos during processing.
  • Documents up to 10 pages, no larger than 8-1/2” by 11” (standard size typing paper). The staff will view and read the documents during processing and you must take them with you at the end of the visit. 

The following baby items are allowed when you are bringing in an infant or toddler:

  • Any combination of two, factory-sealed, single serving size, ready to feed bottles of baby formula, or two, transparent, plastic baby bottles either empty or containing pre-mixed formula/milk/juice/water
  • Three non-glass containers of baby food in sealed packaging
  • One plastic spoon
  • Six disposable diapers
  • One sealed package of baby wipes
  • One change of clothing
  • One small blanket
  • Two searchable small toys
  • One transparent pacifier
  • One burp cloth
  • Baby carrier
  • One clear plastic diaper bag (12” by 20”)

Dress Code

  • No blue denim, blue chambray, orange jumpsuits, or orange tops with orange bottoms
  • No forest green bottoms with tan tops
  • No camouflage unless identification shows active or reserve military personnel
  • No strapless, halter, bare midriff, sheer, or transparent clothing
  • No skirts, dresses, or shorts that expose more than two inches above the knee
  • No clothing that exposes the breast, genitalia, or buttocks area
  • No very tight, form-fitting attire
  • No wigs, hairpieces, extensions, or other headpieces except for medical reasons and with prior approval
  • No hats or gloves, except with prior approval or in inclement weather
  • No shower shoes

The visitor center at CIM provides some babysitting services, some transportation services (such as between a nearby bus or train stop and the prison), and some clothing assistance (when the prison has rejected the clothing worn by a visitor).

Additionally, the staff at the Centers are an available source of information regarding visitation, mail, telephone calls, and other issues that may arise as family members and friends try to maintain connections with an incarcerated loved one.

Some of these centers also provide informational training on issues including medical (e.g., HIV, STDs, and AIDS), children (e.g., how to help a child whose parent has gone to prison), or other concerns.

Physical Address

14901 Central Avenue
Chino, CA 91710

Driving Directions:

General Phone Number

​(909) 597-1821

Inmate Mailing Address(es)

When addressing inmate mail, include the Institution’s name, the inmate’s name, and their CDCR number.

Minimum Support Facility
PO Box 600
Chino, CA 91708-0600

Reception Center Central
PO Box 441
Chino, CA 91708-0441

Reception Center West
PO Box 368
Chino, CA 91708-0368

Reception Center East
PO Box 500
Chino, CA 91708-0500

All mail sent to prisoners is inspected to make sure that there is nothing unacceptable in the envelope and to ensure that the content does not contain anything that presents a danger or threat of danger to any person.

This means that any mail sent to the prisoner is opened by mailroom staff, which checks the envelope for enclosures and quickly examines the written content, although it may be more thoroughly reviewed at any time.

You may send prisoners letters (not more than 10 pages in one envelope), cards (without embellishments such as stickers or glitter), photographs (limited to 10 per envelope and not larger than 8” x 10”), drawings, children’s schoolwork, articles cut from newspapers or magazines, etc.

You may not send the following directly to a prisoner: books, magazines, newspapers, or packages. You must send those through approved vendors, and the prisoner can tell you about that procedure

How to Call an Inmate

The CDCR uses the Department of General Services (DGS), Inmate/Ward Telephone System (IWTS) Contract that provides collect-only domestic and international telephone services to the inmates and wards at CDCR facilities. For complete details on how to call an inmate in California, please click here.

How to Send Money

Before sending money to an inmate at California Institution for Men:

  • Lookup the inmate’s CDCR number by using the Inmate Locator
  • Make sure the inmate is located at California Institution for Men by using the Facility Locator

There are three ways to send money to an inmate:

  1. Lock Box
  2. EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer)
  3. Mail funds directly to the institution:

California Institution for Men
PO Box 128
Chino, CA 91708-0128

To get complete details about the different ways to send money to an inmate at California Institution for Men click here.

​Programs For ​Inmates

The California Institution for Men (CIM) offers a variety of programs that strive to benefit the inmate population upon release.

There is an assortment of academic programs available to inmates, including classes in Adult Basic Education I (ABE I), which is directed to inmates who are functionally illiterate, Adult Basic Education II and III are for men who desire to upgrade their skills or meet prerequisites for vocational training.

Adult Basic Education classes provide instruction in writing, math, reading, life skills, language, and pre-GED instruction.

For students who speak other languages, an English as a Second Language Program is offered to strengthen communication skills.

College Education Program─Inmates enrolled in community college correspondence classes

CIM offers a Substance Abuse Program (SAP) with a 150 inmate program enrollment for those inmates that may need addiction recovery assistance. Furthermore, there is a wide range of volunteer self-help groups that are also offered throughout the complex which meet regularly.

Under the direction of the Prison Industry Authority (PIA), CIM is home to the Leonard Greenstone Marine Technology Training Center (MTTC) which provides an internationally recognized curriculum for its graduates. Coursework includes: diving physics, navigation, report writing, air systems, welding, seamanship, blueprint reading, diesel engines and marine construction.

In addition to the coursework, MTTC graduates must demonstrate a high level of professionalism and confidence during and after their training. In addition to the MTTC, PIA operates a food and beverage packaging plant and a laundry facility which serves the California Institution for Women, California Rehabilitation Center, Patton and Lanterman State Hospitals.

Under the direction and supervision of the Community Resource Manager CIM offers the following Inmate Leisure Time Activity Groups:

  • Alcoholic Anonymous & Narcotic Anonymous 
  • Veterans In Prison
  • Victim Offender Education Group
  • PRIDE (Prisoners Reaching Independent Decision to Educate) group helps at risk youth in community through education

CIM also provide NON-ILTAG Programs such as:

  • Life Changing Mentoring Program (Program provides mentors to the children of incarcerated parents in an effort to break the cycle of crime.)
  • ASK mentoring Program (program mentors inmates that receive little or no visits from family. Program is designed to help inmates focus on preparing to re-enter society.
  • Center For the Empowerment of Families (CEF) Program headed by Dr. Sharon Rabb teaches relationship skill, life skills and anger management to inmate participants.
  • Criminal Gang members Anonymous (CGA) a recovery program for all criminal regardless of their lifestyle and crime choice to help identify the causes and solutions of criminal behavior and foster a change in the lives of participants.
  • Fatherhood Program─Teach and foster effective parenting skills for incarcerated persons

Prison Education & Arts Program─College students tutoring and providing educational resources to inmates who participate in the volunteer education program. Students and program participants are from CAL-POLY POMONA.

Celebrate Recovery─ 12-step recovery program for dysfunction including drugs, alcohol, sexual abuse, and anger.

Toastmasters─A group that teaches the skills to be an effective public speaker while fostering leadership and responsibility.

Prison Fellowship Pre-release Program─works with inmates who meet the 12-18 monthly release date. Program outline includes one on one life coaching skills, care team of volunteers, pre-release curriculum, and seminars.

Religious Services are provided by State Chaplains who supervise a total of 500 volunteers from 93 Community Churches and Ministries.

Pictures of California Institution for Men

Careers at California Institution for Men

If you are interested in a job at California Institution for Men, please visit the CalCareers website to view available positions.