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Inmate Rules and Grievances

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department has established rules and regulations that inmates must follow while in custody. During the booking process, all inmates view an orientation video that explains how inmates are expected to behave, as well as what happens when rules are not followed. If an inmate is suspected of violating a rule, a report is written to document the suspected violation and to identify witnesses to the incident. Inmates refer to these Rule Violation Reports (RVR’s) as “write-ups.”

Violations range from very serious, such as assault, to less serious violations such as not following directions. An inmate may be charged with multiple violations arising from a single event. For example, an inmate involved in a fight may receive a Rule Violation Report alleging multiple charges such as fighting, refusal to obey an order to break up the fight, and using abusive language.

When an inmate is believed to have violated a rule, the following things happen:

  • An investigation is conducted
  • The violation is documented by a deputy
  • A supervisor reviews the report
  • A hearing is held by a supervisor
  • If the supervisor finds that the inmate committed the violation, he or she will determine the appropriate discipline within established policy
  • The inmate may appeal the findings or the level of punishment.
Discipline may include loss of certain privileges such as telephones, visits, commissary, etc. More serious violations may result in periods of disciplinary lockdown, loss of “good time” credits, or other sanctions. When possible, an attempt is made to match the discipline with the nature of the violation. For example, if an inmate commits a visit-related offense, a temporary suspension of visiting privileges may be imposed. Occasionally an entire housing unit may have discipline imposed, including the loss of telephone privileges or visits. Such sanctions seldom last for more than a few days, but they will affect your ability to visit or speak with the inmate by phone during the disciplinary period.


All inmates in the Sheriff’s Detention system have the right to submit a grievance in regard to almost any aspect of their confinement in the jail system. This means that if inmates feel they are not being treated properly, or if they feel a condition exists that presents a health hazard, they can voice their complaint and receive a response from a Department supervisor.

Issues that can be addressed through the grievance process include—but are not limited to—medical care, classification actions, program participation, telephone use, mail distribution, visitation procedures, food, clothing and bedding. Disciplinary action can also be grieved. The Sheriff’s grievance process ensures that problems or concerns confronting inmates will be addressed by jail staff in an appropriate manner. It can also provide inmates with an explanation on those occasions when living conditions are affected necessarily by security requirements.

To file a grievance, inmates are provided with Inmate Grievance forms within their housing areas, although any writing material may be used. Grievances are generally filed with a sergeant, who must respond to the grievance within seven calendar days, although most responses occur sooner. After consideration by the supervisor, the inmate receives a written response to the grievance. If the sergeant is not able to resolve the issue addressed in the grievance, then the grievance may be directed to a higher ranking officer within the jail. If all lower responses fail to resolve the issue to the inmate’s satisfaction, the Facility Commander may render a final decision regarding the grievance. Each grievance, including its disposition, is logged in jail records for future reference.


100 Conduct and Demeanor
200 Communication
300 Contraband
400 Health and Hygiene
500 Movement
600 Clothing and Bedding
700 Facility Security/Safety
800 Property

101 Inmates shall treat members of facility staff in a civil fashion.
102 Inmates shall obey staff instructions.
103 Inmates shall not threaten, assault, or attempt to intimidate any other inmate or any member of the Jail Staff.
104 Inmates shall not gamble.
105 Inmates shall not take part in aggressive or boisterous activity.
106 Inmates shall not abuse phone privileges.
107 Inmates shall not participate in any form of sexual activity at any time.
108 SENTENCED inmates may not refuse to work.
109 Inmates shall not maliciously throw any object.
110 Inmates shall not give false information to a staff member.
111 Inmates shall not take another person’s property without permission.

201 Inmates in the same facility shall not communicate with or pass anything to inmates in other Housing Areas, including petitions or notes without permission from Jail Staff.
202 Inmates shall not communicate with Professional Staff except when required due to work assignment, consulting for provided services (medical or counseling) or at booking or release windows.

301 Inmates shall not use or possess any material, whether authorized or not, which is used for other than its intended purpose.
302 Inmates shall not possess tattoo kits.
303 Inmates shall possess or consume only those prescription medications prescribed by the medical staff or those over the counter drugs purchased via Commissary Stores. Inmates shall not accumulate any prescription medications. When taking prescription medications, inmates
shall completely consume all medications at the prescribed time.
304 Inmates shall possess only one razor and shall not alter razors in any way.
305 Inmates shall not make or possess alcoholic beverages.
306 Inmates shall not possess water bags.
307 Inmates shall not possess any coins, currency, or legal tender.
308 Inmates shall not possess tobacco products or smoking related products, lighters, matches and/or other ignition devices.
309 Inmates shall not cultivate, possess or be under the influence of any illegal/controlled substance such as marijuana, cocaine, etc.
310 Inmates will not accept any item from any person without approval from Jail Staff.

401 Inmates shall keep living areas clean and orderly.
402 Inmate shall not engage in tattooing or body piercing themselves or other inmates.
403 Inmates shall not possess excess commissary items. Inmates are allowed a reasonable number of items from Commissary stores, but no facility food items are allowed in cells or housing units without permission of a staff member.
404 Inmates shall return all kitchen utensils, containers and eating implements upon completion of meals.
405 All inmate workers assigned to assist with food preparation and serving shall wear plastic gloves and caps (as approved by the Health Department), in addition to their issued clothing.
406 Inmates are to eat facility food only in designated areas within the housing units or dining room.
407 Inmates shall not save food from the daily meals for future consumption.
Any food not consumed shall be removed with the meal carts. Inmates shall not remove food from the dining room.

501 Inmates shall possess only legal documents while outside the housing units.
502 Inmates shall be fully clothed when moving outside the housing units, and shall place their hands deep in their pockets or waistbands of their  trousers.
503 Inmates moving in groups under the supervision of a staff member shall move in a single file and in an orderly fashion.
504 Inmates shall not have any writing instrument in their possession outside of the housing module.
505 Inmate movement outside housing areas shall be conducted in a quiet and orderly manner.

601 Inmates shall not trade or sell personal property or clothing.
602 Inmates shall not possess items in excess of their clothing or bedding allotment.
603 Inmates shall exchange clothing and bedding according to facility schedule. Clothing and bedding shall be used for intended purpose only, and shall not be damaged or destroyed in any way.
604 Inmates’ bedding shall be kept in designated sleeping area only.
605 The wearing or displaying of any Jail issued or authorized clothing item, in any fashion that implies gang association, including the use of colored items implying such association, is prohibited.

701 Inmates shall not engage in any activity that impairs or interferes with the operation of the facility.
702 Inmates shall not make fires.
703 Inmates shall not use any item or device to alter the view through any bar, window, door flap, camera device, etc.
704 Inmates shall not tamper with ANY locking devices or mechanisms.
705 Inmates shall not remove, alter, destroy, change, or tamper with any wristband.
706 Inmates shall not cover vents, intercoms, lights, windows, etc.
707 Inmates shall not tamper with lighting, electrical connections or equipment.
708 Inmates shall not impede or restrict the opening or closing of doors, windows, gates, etc.
709 Inmates shall not enter a cell or living area of another inmate without a deputy’s permission.
710 Inmates shall not tape or affix any item to walls, vents, intercoms, or other structures within the facility.
711 Inmates shall not possess or control possession of any key or any device that could be used as a key.
712 Inmates shall not engage in the planning or execution of any escape from confinement or community based programs.
713 No inmate shall violate any Federal law, State law, or local ordinance.

801 Inmates shall not possess property in excess of authorized quantities.
802 Inmates may be authorized to possess the following quantities of property
within the module:
A. 10 photos, no larger than 4” x 6”.
B. 40 postcards, 15 letters, not including legal mail.
C. Magazines, periodicals, or soft cover books, of any combination not to exceed 6 total.
D. Packaged sugar not to exceed 50 packs.