Send Mail to an Inmate

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This Custody Services Bureau information is posted for reference only and does not necessarily include a specific policy in its entirety. Custody Services' policies are reviewed on a frequent basis and are subject to change at any time.

All legitimate mail sent to and from persons incarcerated in Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff Detention Facilities shall be delivered to addressees without undue delay. All mail will be delivered in accordance with security regulations of the Detention Division. Policies and procedures governing inmate correspondence shall be made available to all inmates and staff, and shall be reviewed annually and updated as necessary.

Click the links below for further details and information.

Incoming Inmate Mail

Outgoing Inmate Mail

Privileged Correspondence

Prohibited Mail

Inmate Jail Mail

Detention Facility Mailing Addresses 

Incoming Mail

All mail received for inmates at county detention facilities must have the following information on the face of the envelope:

  • The full first and last name of the inmate.
    Note: Religious names may also be included, but may not substitute the name under which the inmate was booked.
  • The inmate's booking number.

Mail without an identified sender, to include name and address, will be returned to the U.S. Post Office.

Mail is to be received through regular channels only. No Deputy Sheriff or employee will accept incoming mail for any inmate.

Inmates may receive correspondence from any non-incarcerated person and in any language.

  • The amount of correspondence for an inmate should be unlimited, and there should be no limit on the number of letters an inmate may receive from approved correspondence except when there are reasonable beliefs that limitation is necessary to protect public safety of facility order and security.
  • Use of inmate mail for business purposes shall be only with the prior written approval of the Facility Commander.

There is no limit on the number of pages in each letter.

Mail and packages received will be delivered to the inmate within 48 hours receipt at the facility in which the inmate is housed.
Note: Excluding weekends and holidays.

Mail addressed to an inmate who has been transferred or released will be returned to sender within 48 hours of receipt at the facility to which the mail is addressed.

All non-privileged incoming mail will be opened without the inmate being present and inspected for contraband.

With the approval of the Facility Commander, all non-privileged incoming mail may be read by custody staff to ensure inmate communications do not pose a threat to the safety of staff, other inmates, or the security of the facility, or if reasonable suspicion exists that the correspondence is being used in the furtherance of illegal activity.

  • A "Mail Watch" may be requested by the District Attorney's Office and will be monitored by the Classification Unit. The Mail Watch form will be completed and maintained by the Classification Unit.
  • Inmate Legal Mail may not be read for any reason.

Incoming certified or registered mail for inmates shall be processed as all other mail.

  • The Facility Commander or designee will be responsible for signing for the certified/registered mail and will ensure the mail is properly delivered to the inmate without delay.

Any special delivery, such as Federal Express, UPS, overnight express mail, etc., will be accepted if the inmate has been verified to be in custody and a return address is included.

Mail that is not returned to sender or provided to the inmate will be placed into the inmate's personal property.

  • The staff member shall place the material and one copy of the receipt into an envelope or box with the inmate's name, booking number and property location clearly marked on the outside.
  • The staff member shall attach the prepared envelope or box onto any existing property bag or box the inmate might have and return the property to the correct bin or shelf assignment.
  • The staff member will update the inmate's property history through JMS to reflect the addition.
  • Additional copies of the material receipt will be placed in the inmate's booking.

Incoming Mail Delivery to Housing Unit

  • The Housing Unit Deputy is responsible for picking up mail from the facility mailroom at the beginning of each shift and after meal breaks.
  • The Housing Unit Deputy will distribute mail to all inmates as close to the beginning of the shift as practical.
  • The Housing Unit Deputy will deliver mail to the addressee only.
  • Inmates must identify themselves by their wristband or through other means of positive identification before any mail may be delivered them.

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Outgoing Mail

All mail sent from inmates housed in county detention facilities must have the following information on the face of the envelope:

  • The full first and last name of the inmate. Note: Religious names may also be included, but may not substitute the name under which the inmate was booked.
  • The inmate's booking number.

Mail is to be sent through regular channels only.

  • No Deputy Sheriff or other employee will mail outgoing mail for an inmate.

There is no limit on the number of letters an inmate may send, except as indicated below:

  • Indigent inmates may send a maximum of two (2) letters per week (Monday through Sunday). There is no limit on indigent inmate legal mail.
  • Inmates may have an unlimited amount of correspondents.
  • Use of inmate mail for business purposes shall be only with the prior written approval of the Facility Commander.

There is no limit on the number of pages in each letter.

Inmates may send correspondence to any non-incarcerated person in any language.

Foreign nationals held in custody in Contra Costa County Sheriff's Facilities may write the diplomatic representatives of their country of origin, utilizing U.S. Mail.

  • In the case of indigent foreign nationals, where regularly provided postage is insufficient to cover postage to a foreign country, Accounting will provide sufficient additional postage to cover the postal costs of such correspondence.  Indigent foreign nationals may send a maximum of two (2) letters per week (Monday-Sunday). There is no limit on indigent inmate legal mail.
  • Foreign nationals needing assistance in contacting their diplomatic representative, particularly in accessing appropriate addresses or telephone numbers, shall receive assistance from the Inmate Library.

Outgoing mail will be forwarded to the U.S. Post Office within 48 hours of removal from the inmate's housing unit.

Note: Excluding weekends and holidays.

Envelopes, stamps and writing material will be purchased through commissary.

  • Indigent inmates will receive correspondence materials for writing to family and friends in the indigent inmate kit through commissary.
  • Envelopes, stamps and writing material may not be received through U.S. Mail.

All inmate must meet all rules and regulations for mailing letters. Deliberate violations may result in disciplinary action or referral for prosecution to appropriate authorities.

With the approval of the Facility Commander, all non-privileged outgoing mail may be read by custody staff to ensure inmate communications do not pose a threat to the safety of staff, other inmates, the security of the facility, or if reasonable suspicion exists that it, the correspondence is being used in the furtherance of illegal activity.

  • A "Mail Watch may be requested by the District Attorney's office and will be monitored by the Classification Unit. The Mail Watch form will be completed and maintained by the Classification Unit.
  • Inmate Legal Mail may not be read for any reason.

All non-privileged outgoing mail may be opened if a reasonable suspicion exists that illegal contraband may be contained within the envelope or package.

  • Outgoing mail will only be opened with the approval of the Facility Commander or designee.
  • The individual opening the outgoing mail will complete an incident report and crime report, if necessary.

Outgoing Mail From a Housing Unit

  • Housing Unit Deputies will ensure that all outgoing mail has the inmate's full name, booking number and housing address and assignment. Housing unit Deputies will return all incomplete envelopes to inmate for correction. Magazine "pull-outs" will not be accepted for mailing. Housing unit Deputies will return all unsealed envelopes to inmates for sealing. Housing unit Deputies will return all envelopes with any writing on it other than the name and address information of the sender and receiving party.

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Privileged Correspondence

All inmates are permitted to have unlimited postage paid correspondence with their attorney and the courts.

Privileged correspondence may be opened only to inspect for contraband, and only in the presence of the inmate.

  • Staff may not read privileged correspondence at any time.
  • Contraband items located within privileged correspondence will result in the immediate removal of the item and, dependent on the nature of the offense, could result in the temporary hold or placement of the legal material into evidence. Note: The placement of legal material into evidence will be for the sole purpose of preserving the evidence of contraband.

Deputies will forward all outgoing indigent inmate legal mail to Accounting.

  • Accounting staff will verify the indigent status, band all legal mail together and place it in the outgoing mail bin.
  • Accounting staff will place the proper amount of postage on all legal mail, placing no limit on the number of envelopes being mailed.

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Prohibited Mail

Staff shall not permit inmates to receive any mail which:

  • Contains instructions for the manufacturing of explosives, weapons, drugs, or other unlawful substances.
  • Advocates, encourages, depicts, or otherwise condones violence, the use of weapons, gang related activities, or other conduct which jeopardizes jail security.
  • Advocates racial, religious, or national hatred or which otherwise contains matter of a character tending to incite murder, arson, riot, or any other form of violence.
  • Contains sexually explicit images that depict frontal nudity in personal photographs, drawings, magazines or other pictorial formats. Explicit Material Exceptions:

    • Departmentally purchased or acquired educational, medical/scientific or artistic material for the purpose of inclusion in facility libraries or educational areas.
    • Inmate purchased educational, medical/scientific or artistic materials, including anatomical medical references books, general practitioner reference books and or guides. National Geographic Magazines, or artistic reference material depicting historical, modern and/or post modern era art.
    • All inmate publications are subject to a case-by-case review and approval by the Custody Services Bureau Assistant Sheriff or his/her designee.
  • Is oversized and not likely to reasonably fit in an inmate's personal storage drawer/bin.
  • Contains Polaroid photographs.
  • Has envelopes with any writing on it other than the name and address information of the sender and receiving party.
  • Contains any writing/drawing in crayon, marker or colored pencils.
  • Contains any stains or unidentifiable marks.

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Inmate Jail Mail

Inmates are not allowed to correspond:

  • From facility to facility within Contra Costa County (inter-facility)
  • To other inmates within the same facility (intra-facility)
  • To other inmates at any other facility (county or state) outside Contra Costa County.

Inmates may not use the United State Postal Service or any other third party to facilitate writing to each other while incarcerated.

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Detention Facility Mailing Addresses

Martinez Detention Facility
1000 Ward Street
Martinez, CA  94553

West County Detention Facility
5555 Giant Highway
Richmond, CA  94806

Marsh Creek Detention Facility
12000 Marsh Creek Road
Clayton, CA  94517

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