Juvenile Detention Facilities
The County of San Diego Probation Department operates two 24-hour,
maximum-security, juvenile detention facilities (aka Juvenile
Halls) in the county. These facilities house male and female offenders
awaiting Juvenile Court and placement in the diverse commitment
options available to the Court. Offenders range in age from 10 through
20. Offenders are held by court order for offenses ranging from petty
theft to murder. The average length of stay is less than a
The Department also operates one 24-hour, minimum-security facility called Urban Camp. Youth are typically sentenced to these programs for several months to a year. For more information on these programs please see below.
Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility (KMJDF)- 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.
AUTHORIZED VISITORS - A youth can receive a visit from anyone over the age of 18 years old in their family. Family is defined as follows: A family can include people who are united through biology, marriage, or adoption or who are so closely connected through friendships or shared experience that they are taken to be family members. Conceived in this manner, “family” might include biological and adoptive parents, legal guardians, foster parents, kinship caregivers, grandparents, godparents, mentors, teachers, clergy, family friends, and others who support the youth and contribute to the success of the youth’s rehabilitation process.
Authorization and approval for visitors is obtained through the Casework Probation Officer.
Appointments can be scheduled up to one week in advance of the intended visitation date. Appointments and additional information line – (858) 694-4500.
You must check in at the Administration Entrance prior to going to the units for your visit.
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. Additionally, EMJDF offers Skype visitation. The purpose of Skype tele-visit is to allow youth the opportunity to visit with their parent/guardian/other approved visitor who is unable to come to EMJDF for a face-to-face visit. Only visitors who are on the “approved visitor” list, which has been updated by the assigned probation officer, are permitted to have a Skype visit. Skype tele-visitation is available for all youth detained at EMJDF. Skype tele-visitation is held Monday through Friday from 2 pm to 8 pm (the last Skype tele-visit will be scheduled at 7:30pm and will end by 8:00pm when the visiting center closes). Each Skype tele-visit is 30 minutes.
To schedule a Skype tele-visit for EMJDF, youth can request a visit from any officer. The officer will provide the Skype scheduler with the youth’s name and unit. The Skype Scheduler will contact the parent/legal guardian/approved visitor to set up a tele-visit. The interested visitor(s) can also contact the Skype Schedulers directly at (619) 671-4471 to schedule a Skype visitation appointment.
Urban Camp (UC) - is located in Birdland, a suburb of San Diego. The goal of the Urban Camp is to provide the youthful offender with the training and skills necessary for successful transition and reintegration into society. More information on Urban Camp
Tour the new Juvenile Justice Campus to be completed by early 2022.
A few of the regulations regarding visiting at Kearny Mesa Juvenile
Detention Facility (KMJDF) and East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility (EMJDF)
- Parents, legal guardians, and others who are pre-approved by their assigned Probation Officer are permitted to visit. You must bring a valid photo I.D.
- Youth who have children can request to have visits with their children while in custody. These visits will also need to be approved through their assigned Probation Officer.
- 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. Lockers at EMJDF require 2 quarters $0.50 (refunded when you empty the locker).
- You may bring in one (1) paperback book or magazine for your child, with their name and unit number written on it.
- Parents are also allowed to bring magazines that are on the list of 26 “approved” magazines. The list is available here at the Kiosk.
- Parents can bring in a max of $5.00 for the visiting snack machines (EMJDF only)
When a youth is to be released, the probation officer will notify the parent or guardian with the date and time of release. Youth 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 youth is being released to Camp Barrett, their personal clothing will be transferred to the respective facility. If the youth 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 youth’s belongings will be held for 30 days; an appointment must be made prior to the pick up of the property.
All youth housed at the Juvenile Halls are required to attend school Monday through Friday. The school at both sites is called the S.O.A.R. Academy and is run by the San Diego County Office of Education. Youth may earn credit towards receiving their high school diploma or earn their high school equivalency (HISET). Youth who already have their diploma or HISET may also have the opportunity to participate in college level courses and earn college credit.
Both Juvenile Detention Facilities offer a myriad of programs that are designed to assist our youth towards rehabilitation. Such programs include, but are not limited to, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Pet Therapy, Yoga, various Literacy Groups, Book Clubs and programs facilitated by SAY San Diego and Second Chance Programs. Additionally, special speakers are often times invited to encourage and inspire youth, such as renowned authors, professional athletes, and community leaders/volunteers.
Visits by Protestant and Catholic Church groups are also available to interested youth. Youth may also request to speak to a clergyperson of a different faith. Our Department makes every effort to arrange for such positive visitations.