|Location||Castaic, California, U.S.|
|Population||6,871 (as of 2019)|
|Managed by||Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department|
Peter J. Pitchess Detention Center, also known as Pitchess Detention Center or simply Pitchess, is an all-male county detention center and correctional facility named in honor of Peter J. Pitchess located directly east of exit 173 off Interstate 5 in the unincorporated community of Castaic in Los Angeles County, California.
The 2,620-acre site was previously known as the Wayside Honor Rancho, Castaic Honor Farm, or the Wayside Jail (by which it is still sometimes known) and was nicknamed the Wayside Drunk Farm in the 1940s because of the large proportion of inmates serving time for alcohol-related offenses—when first built for prison use in 1938 it was a minimum-security facility where inmates worked on a farm setting. In 1983 it was renamed the Peter J. Pitchess Honor Rancho. All farming operations were terminated in 1992 and the "rancho" component of the center was closed altogether in 1995 because of budgetary constraints, at which point it acquired its current name. It is run by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and is divided into a North Facility, East Facility, South Facility, and North County Correctional Facility, each managed under different levels of prison security. In its current designation it was designed to house approximately 8,600 men either awaiting hearings or trial on a variety of crimes (i.e., "detention") or parole violators with sentences of up to one year ("corrections"), the two groups collectively termed "inmates". As of 1998 it was the county's largest jail complex. It is also the oldest operating jail in the county. The Municipal and Superior courthouses where Pitchess inmates are taken for hearings and trials include Van Nuys, San Fernando, Burbank, Pasadena, Newhall, Antelope Valley, Malibu, and downtown Los Angeles.
Built in 1987, the North Facility was originally built as a medium-security structure, although now it is classified as maximum security. It is made up of four modules each containing four dormitories (each with a sleeping area, dining area/ day room, and restroom), eight disciplinary cells, a multipurpose room, a medical center, a visiting center, and three security stations. It was designed to house 90 criminals per dormitory "block" for a total of 1,450 inmates. For the first four years of its existence it operated under the command of the South Facility before gaining its own unit commander and operations staff.
The North Facility unofficially closed in 2010 and currently houses less than a third of its capacity of inmates. Its only function at the moment is to handle overflow from the other three facilities.
Built in 1951, the East Facility, which once included a bakery and print shop where inmates received vocational training, started as a simple disciplinary housing unit for minimum-security inmates working on the farm. In 1957 it became the facility's first maximum-security jail. It was designed to house 110 criminals per dormitory block and had a maximum capacity of 1,830 inmates. It currently is designed to house approximately 850 inmates including 400 parole violators awaiting Morrissey hearings. It consists of two "hard lock" modules and an inmate processing area. As of January 2015, The Pitchess Detention Center East is closed.
Built in 1971, the South Facility is a medium-security jail that offers inmates vocational programs such as masonry, dog grooming, and carpentry. Some inmates work on crews at the county Fire Department's Fire Suppression Training Camp No. 12, which a sign on the jail grounds at one point affectionately called "Disneyland." It was designed to house 85 criminals per dormitory block and had a maximum capacity of 1,700 inmates.
The South Facility was curtailed between November 2001 and October 2007, during which it was called the North Annex.
The South Facility's Fire Camp Training Facility currently allows those inmates convicted of non-serious, nonviolent, and nonsexual offenses (mostly victimless drug-related crimes as well as theft and fraud) to participate for several months in physically-demanding firefighter training and to do so under the supervision of local law enforcement. The program is the result of California Assembly Bill 109, the state's "realignment plan". Inmates participating in this program are distinguished by their orange jumpers. At the completion of the 80-hour program, the facility hosts a formal graduation ceremony.
North County Correctional Facility
Known as "SuperMax" and distinct from the North Facility mentioned previously, the North County Correctional Facility (NCCF), built in 1990, is considered a state-of-the-art maximum-security jail offering vocational training in printing, bakery production, and clothes manufacturing. It also includes a 16-bed hospital dormitory. The rest of the facility was designed to house 58 criminals per dormitory block and to have a capacity of 3,700 inmates.
Women's Village Project
On October 26, 2012, the County of Los Angeles gave written notice of its intent to create a women's inmate facility within the Pitchess Detention Center. The 21-acre facility will require the demolition of most of the existing structures in the planned project area located adjacent to the South Facility. When completed, it will consist of a series of single-story "cottages" each containing a "pod" of beds and, when combined with beds in four existing structures which will not be demolished, will be able to house 1,156 criminals.
The Century Regional Detention Center in Lynwood is currently serving as an all female facility. It has a 2,100 inmate capacity.
Other structures, facilities, and visitor services
- In 1951 Texaco discovered oil on the jail's property. Oil derricks still operate on prison land, as part of the Honor Rancho Oil Field.
- A cogeneration plant ("co-gen") was built in 1963 to provide electricity to the jail. It is located here: .
- The center has a heliport called Sheriff's Wayside Heliport which became operational in July 1972 and is located here: . Its Federal Aviation Administration Identifier is 81L. Two unofficial helipads are also maintained just southwest of the motor pool here: .
- In 1993 the Elmer T. Jaffe Visitors' Center was built, located here: .
2018: 17 people were indicted on identity theft charges and charges relating to supplying methamphetamine, including to the Pitchess Detention Center, after an investigation into the Puente 13 street gang led by the DEA and the US Secret Service.
- "Los Angeles County Jail System By the Numbers". Los Angeles Almanac. Retrieved 2020-12-26.
- Stassel, Stephanie (25 October 1998). "Peter Pitchess Detention Center". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
- "LA COUNTY JAIL - Pitchess Detention Center East - (Closed for Renovation) Visitation | Mail | Phone | Castaic, CA". www.jailexchange.com.
- Abram, Susan (19 November 2012). "Pitchess Detention Center inmates graduate from fire training camp". Daily News Los Angeles. Los Angeles: Los Angeles Newspaper Group. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
- "Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report" (PDF), County of Los Angeles, retrieved 2013-02-04
- "LASD.org - Information Detail". shq.lasdnews.net.
- "Investigation into Puente 13 Street Gang leads to federal narcotics, fraud and identity theft charges against 17 defendants". www.dea.gov.
- An Overview of the Pitchess Detention Center, © 2012
- Los Angeles County - Pitchess Detention Center, East Facility - CLOSED January 2015
- Los Angeles County - Pitchess Detention Center, North Facility
- Los Angeles County - Pitchess Detention Center, South Facility
- Los Angeles County - North County Correctional Facility, NCCF
- Los Angeles County - Inmate Reception Center
- Los Angeles County - Men's Central Jail
- Los Angeles County - Century Regional Detention Facility
- Los Angeles County - Twin Towers Correctional Facility