San Diego County Probation Department Star

Juvenile Halls

East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility

The County of San Diego Probation Department operates two 24-hour, maximum-security, juvenile detention facilities (or Juvenile Halls). These facilities hold youth awaiting proceedings or placement in the diverse commitment options available to the Juvenile Court.   Youth are held based on an assessment of their risk to abscond or reoffend while awaiting trial, or by court order. The average length of stay is less than a month.

The Department also operates one 24-hour, minimum-security facility called Urban Camp. Youth are typically committed to this program for several months to a year. For more information on Urban Camp programs please see below.

Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention center entrance

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

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

Urban Camp (UC) is located in the Birdland suburb of San Diego. The goal of the Urban Camp is to provide youth with the training and skills necessary for successful transition and reintegration into society.

The new Youth Transition Campus (YTC) is scheduled to be completed by early 2022.

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  • Release Information

    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.

  • School

    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. 

  • Programs

    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.