Juvenile Halls

east mesa


Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility (KMJDF), formerly the San Diego County Juvenile Hall, is located in Birdland, a suburb of San Diego. It has a Board of Corrections maximum capacity of 359. KMJDF has housed juvenile offenders since 1954.

East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility (EMJDF), is located in East Otay Mesa, north of Brown Field. It has a Board of Corrections maximum capacity of 290. EMJDF opened for operation in June 2004.

Visiting Information

Kearny Mesa Facility: Visiting occurs every Thursday (6:30 PM - 8:30 PM) and Sunday (9:00 AM - 11:00 AM). You must check in at the Administration Entrance prior to going to the units for your visit.

East Mesa Facility: Visiting occurs Monday through Friday (3:00 PM - 8:00 PM) and Sunday (last names A-L: 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM and M-Z: 10:15 AM - 11:15 AM)

Holiday visiting hours remain the same except for Christmas Day , which follows the Sunday schedule.

Following are some regulations regarding visiting at Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility (KMJDF) and East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility (EMJDF):

  • Only parents and legal guardians are permitted to visit.  You must bring a valid photo I.D.
  • Special visits must be pre-approved through the minor’s Probation Officer, the KMJDF or EMJDF Watch Commander, or the Court for the visit.
  • When entering KMJDF or EMJDF you may only bring in your I.D. and one key. There are a limited number of pay-per-use lockers available to secure your valuables. They cost $0.25 per use.
  • You may bring in one (1) paperback book for your child, with their name and unit number written on it, to be placed in a receptacle in the lobby. Please note that the book becomes the property of KMJDF or EMJDF after your child leaves the facility.

Release Information

When a minor is to be released, the probation officer will notify the parent or guardian with the date and time of release.  Minors are to be picked up at Intake-Booking-Release (IBR) at the time of their release. The release procedure can take up to an hour after the parent has checked in with Booking.

If the minor is being released to the Juvenile Ranch Facility or Camp Barrett, their personal clothing will be transferred to the respective facility. If the minor is being released to the Department of Juvenile Justice the parents will be sent a letter outlining the procedure for obtaining the minor’s property. The Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility and East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility property rooms are small and a minor’s belongings will be held for 30 days; an appointment must be made prior to the pick up of the property.


Criminal Conduct and Substance Abuse Treatment – The program is delivered by mental health care professionals and is designed to assist individuals with histories of substance abuse combined with criminal conduct. Using cognitive-behavioral methods, the program's goal is to help replace negative behaviors with positive alternatives.

Thinking for a Change – This is a cognitive-behavioral based program provided by sworn officers assigned to Unit 100. Each Unit 100 detainee is guided through a series of ten classes (using facilitation techniques). Each class focuses on providing positive alternatives to delinquent behavior. Using role-play and objective attachment, each detainee is exposed to positive cognitions, which in turn helps an individual “Think for a Change.”

Character Counts - This is a program based on “The Six Pillars of Character.”  Sworn staff lead the detainees through discussions, handouts, and role-play to learn how to make effective and ethical decisions. This program uses the “Six Pillars of Character,” Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship.

School – All minors detained at the Juvenile Halls are required to attend school Monday through Friday: Sarah Anthony School at Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility or East Mesa School at East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility. They can earn credit towards receiving their high school diploma or earn their G.E.D.

Regular meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and visits by Protestant and Catholic Church groups are also available to interested detainees. Should someone of a different faith wish to speak to a clergyman of his own; the Department Chaplain makes every effort to arrange for such visitations.