Central California Women’s Facility

Central California Women's Facility is the largest female institution in the United States, and it is located in Chowchilla, California.  CCWF houses the only female death row in the state of California. It has a capacity of 2,004, but currently houses more than 3,000 inmates.

This facility houses all security levels, and it provides inmate academic education, work and vocational training, counseling and specialized programs for the purpose of successful reintegration into society.  It provides community service which encourages public awareness and participation.

The facility's specialized mental health and medical services are commensurate with community standards, providing a licensed medical environment while encouraging personal responsibility.

The institution also provides staff resources and training which ensures the highest standards of "Correctional Professionalism."

CCWF sits on 640 acres and features a reception center that provides short-term housing to process, classify, and evaluate new inmates in the California prison system.

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Visiting Hours and Rules

All prisons in California have specified visiting hours, and at CCWF they are on Saturdays and Sundays, and they usually start between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. and end between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. There are also four holidays with visiting hours: New Year’s Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has an 800 Visitor’s Information number that will give you detailed information about visiting hours at CCWF. The number is 1-800-374-8474, and all you need to do is follow the directions on the recording.

The Visitors’ Information number will also give you detailed information on visits, as well as updates on lockdowns, medical quarantines, or other circumstances that affect visiting.

Before you visit an inmate at CCWF we suggest two things:

  • Read the 28-page Visitation Guidebook put together by the CDCR so you understand what to expect when you visit an inmate, as well as what is expected of you.
  • Schedule a visit in advance online using the VPASS system. This will reduce your wait time, and guarantee you a spot in the visiting room. On the day of your scheduled visit, you can check the visiting status at CCWF to make sure they are accepting visitors that day.

Getting Approved for a Visit

Before visiting an inmate at CCWF you must first get on the approved visiting list. To start the process, you must ask the prisoner you wish to visit to mail you a signed visitor questionnaire. They must sign the questionnaire before mailing it to you because their signature is their consent to add you to their visiting list.

Be sure to fill out the questionnaire completely and accurately. The CDCR will conduct a background check for arrests and convictions when processing the application, and if you are not truthful on your questionnaire you will be denied.

  • Mail the completed questionnaire to:

Central California Women's Facility
Visiting Sergeant
PO Box 1501
Chowchilla, CA 93610-1501

If you are approved to visit, the prison will notify the inmate, and it is their job to notify you. When you are approved, you are listed in the CDCR 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 on the day of your visit.

If you are denied, the prison will send you a letter giving the reason for disapproval, and the prisoner will also receive notice, but will not be given the reason.

General Visiting Rules at CCWF

Most inmates are in general population, and they are allowed contact visits. At a contact visit, the prisoner is allowed to sit with their visitors in a large visiting room, and they may have limited physical contact.

Contact visits are restricted to five visitors at a time.

Inmates in ADSEG or Intake are only allowed non-contact visits, which take place in a separate visiting room, and the inmates and visitors are separated by a glass partition. You must have an appointment for a non-contact visit.

In order to visit an inmate, you must have photo identification. You must also go through a metal detector, and the items you bring will go through an X-ray machine.

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. However, on occasion may be as long as two hours, depending on the number of visitors, the time of day, and conditions of processing. The wait times are usually longer first thing in the morning, when many visitors arrive all at the same time.

You must fill out a pass each time you visit an inmate. The pass will require the prisoner’s name and CDCR number, your relationship to the prisoner (spouse, mother, friend, etc.), your name and address, and your signature.

If you are bringing in minor children, you must list the names of the children on the pass. The completed pass is then submitted to staff, and, using a computer, a staff member will check the prisoner’s file to make sure you are an approved visitor, and that the prisoner is eligible to visit on that day.

Staff will mark the pass with the prisoner’s housing and will note if the visit is contact or non-contact. The pass, along with your identification, is your “key” to get into and out of the prison.

The only items allowed into a visit without prior approval are:

  • A $50 limit per adult and $20 limit per minor; only as dollar bills, dollar coins, and quarters. Visiting rooms have vending machines stocked with food and beverages that you can purchase for yourself and the inmate. You may not bring any food or beverage from the outside into the prison.
  • A small (generally 6” by 8”) 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 bandannas
  • A pair of prescription glasses
  • Ten Photographs, no larger than 8” by 10”; photos may be shown to the prisoner, but must be taken out by the visitor at the end of the visit. No Polaroids. No sexual or gang images
  • Ten pages of documents, no larger than 8-1/2” by 11”

Dress Code

There are restrictions on what you may wear to Central California Women's Facility, and you can read all of the details in the Inmate Visiting Guide. The biggest thing to remember is to dress modestly, and don’t wear clothing that resembles what an inmate wears or what a guard wears.

Physical Address

23370 Road 22
Chowchilla, CA 93610

Driving Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/byMR54BMMxb1p6sp7

General Phone Number

​(559) 665-5531

Inmate Mailing Address(es)

All mail should be addressed to the prisoner with their full name, their CDCR number, and the address of the prison.

Central California Women's Facility
Inmate's name and CDCR number
PO Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610-1508

There is no limit on the number of people who may correspond with the prisoner or the number of mail items a prisoner may receive.  All inmate mail is opened and reviewed by staff.

The restrictions on content are:

  • May not contain anything that is a threat or potential threat to another 
  • No discussion of a future criminal act
  • No discussion of an escape
  • No discussion of disrupting the security of the prison
  • No coded messages
  • No maps depicting the area in which the prison is located
  • No gang-related comments or photographs
  • No photographs of nudity or sexual conduct

You may send prisoners letters, cards (no stickers or glitter), photographs (limited to 10 per envelope and not larger than 8” x 10”), drawings, children’s schoolwork, or newspaper and magazine articles.

You can not send books, magazines, newspapers, or packages directly to an inmate. Instead, they must be sent through approved vendors.

You may enclose a money order or check in your letter to an inmate. Mailroom staff will take the money order or check and they will send it to trust accounts, where it will be credited to the prisoner’s account.

How to Call an Inmate

Unfortunately, you can’t call prisoners directly, they must call you. The prisoners have access to phones during daytime hours.

You are responsible for paying for the calls, but calling cards cannot be used. For complete details on how to call an inmate in California, please click here.

How to Send Money

To send money to an inmate first:

3 Ways of Sending Money:

  1. Lock Box
  2. EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer)
  3. Mail funds directly to the institution
To get complete details about sending money to an inmate at CCWF, click here.

​Programs For ​Inmates

  • Prison Industry Authority (PIA):  Dental laboratory, fabric products, farming, garment making, silk screening. 
  • Vocational:  Auto body repair and refinishing, computer technology, cosmetology, electronics, office services.
  • Academic: Adult Basic Education, High School/GED, Pre-Release, Literacy Program, College Degree Program (provided by Feather River Community College).
  • Other:  Community Service Crews, Youth Diversion, Religious, Arts in Corrections, Victim Impact Self Awareness, Drug Treatment/Diversion, Parenting, Substance Abuse (Informational), Job Placement, Self-Help Groups (e.g., Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous, etc.)
  • Joint Venture Electronics:  A public-private partnership which employs approximately 45 inmates in an electronics manufacturing program.  The inmates are paid a prevailing wage. Deductions are made for room and board, crime victim compensation, prisoner family support, and mandatory savings for release
  • Long-term offender program
  • Offender Mentor Certification Program
  • Transitions Program

Pictures of Central California Women’s Facility

Careers at Central California Women’s Facility

If you are interested in a job at Central California Women's Facility please visit the CalCareers website to view available positions.