Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility

Coordinates: 32°35′05″N 116°56′00″W / 32.5846°N 116.9334°W / 32.5846; -116.9334
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"Man who killed two Chinese students in Los Angeles given multiple life terms". The Guardian. November 17, 2014. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved February 29, 2024.

Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD)
LocationSan Diego County, California, United States
near Otay Mesa
Coordinates32°35′05″N 116°56′00″W / 32.5846°N 116.9334°W / 32.5846; -116.9334
Security classMedium – Maximum
Population2,920 (97.6% capacity) (as of January 31, 2023[1])
OpenedJuly 1987
Managed byCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
WardenJames S. Hill

Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJDCF or RJD) is a California state prison located in unincorporated southern San Diego County, California,[2] near San Diego.[3][4] It is a part of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. It is a 780-acre (320 ha) facility. It is the only state prison in San Diego County.

The prison is situated on a mesa about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the Mexico–United States border,[5] in the foothills of Otay Mesa overlooking the border. The Otay Mesa site is shared with six other properties related to law enforcement:[6]

  • the federal San Diego Correctional Facility privately operated by the Corrections Corporation of America
  • the George Bailey Detention Facility (San Diego County)
  • the East Mesa Reentry Facility (San Diego County)
  • the Facility 8 Detention Facility (San Diego County)
  • the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility (San Diego County)
  • and a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement firearms training complex used by the FBI, the Customs Service, and local police forces


The prison cells were designed to house one person each, however, due to overcrowding, many house two prisoners each.[4] For example, in March 2012, the facility's total population was more than 166.6% of its design capacity.

As of July 31, 2022, RJDCF was incarcerating people at 102.7% of its design capacity, with 3,074 occupants.[7]

In 1989, RJDCF opened a reception center which accepted newly sentenced inmates from across Southern California. However, in 2012, the institution changed from its previous reception center mission, and completed the conversion of three of its five facilities to sensitive needs yards. Other missions have included housing and providing treatment to inmates with severe mental illnesses, and inmates who have been identified as having medium to high risk medical concerns.[8]

Donovan has five interfaith chapels. Each religion represented at Donovan gets a series of lockers to store materials.[5]

The prison includes a bakery that serves the facility and five other CDCR facilities. Each day, it produces about 9,760 loaves.[9] About 85 prisoners work in the bakery, as of 2010. During that year, the monthly salary of a prisoner working in the bakery was between $90 ($120.78 when adjusted for inflation) and $100 ($134.2 when adjusted for inflation). KPBS said that bakery jobs were "desirable" compared to clerk and custodial jobs, which pay a monthly salary between $24 and $48.[5]

The prison also includes a shoe factory; it manufactures shoes used by prisoners throughout CDCR. It makes both high-top and low-top versions. About 1,000 [9] shoes are produced every day. In 2010, the monthly salary for an employee was between $90 and $100, so the shoe factory positions are prized in Donovan.[5]

The prison formerly housed an eyeglass factory. It built glasses for Medi-Cal patients. About 115 prisoners worked in the factory. It closed in 2009. As of 2010, there are discussions about a possible reopening.[5]

On November 22, 2013, Sirhan Sirhan was transferred to Donovan. Sirhan was convicted of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy. The transfer to Donovan occurred, coincidentally, on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Kennedy's brother, John F. Kennedy.[10]


Each week, "Level 4" (maximum security) prisoners may have 15 hours of yard time.[5]

A court order requiring guards to wear body cameras when dealing with inmates began in 2021 due to a culture of retaliation.[11] Various documented uses of excess of force included tipping over the wheelchairs of disabled prisoners, punching a hard-of-hearing inmate in the face when he asked for written communication from the guard because he couldn't hear what the guard had said and using pepper spray on mentally ill convicts.[12]


In 2010, Donovan Correctional Facility had about 4,800 prisoners. Between 150 and 200 of the prisoners were Native Americans.[5]

During that year prisoners belonged to 15 religious faiths.[5]

Notable prisoners[edit]


Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Cimarron Bell AI1378 Sentenced to death.[13] Convicted of murdering 4 people.[14][15]
Javier Bolden AV2228 Serving two life terms without parole.[16][17] One of two perpetrators of the 2012 murders of Ming Qu and Ying Wu in which Bolden and another man, Bryan Barnes, killed the students in their car near the University of Southern California campus.[18][19][20][21]
Jesse James Hollywood AC4442 Serving a life sentence without parole.[22][23] One of the participants of the 2000 kidnapping and murder of Nicholas Markowitz.[24][25] Jesse would flee to Brazil, before being extradited back to America and convicted for his crimes.[26][27][28][29]
Suge Knight BH6458 Serving a 28-year sentence.[30][31] Former CEO and co-founder of Death Row Records who was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the 2015 death Terry Carter in which Suge plowed his car into him.[32][33][34][35]
Daniel William Marsh AW0819 Serving a 52-year to life sentence.[36][37] Perpetrator of the brutal 2013 murders of Claudia Maupin and Oliver Northup in which Marsh stabbed to death and mutilated the elderly couple.[38][39][40]
Erik Galen Menendez K14101 Serving a life sentence.[41][42] Convicted, along with his brother, Lyle, of the 1989 murders of their parents, José and Mary Menéndez.[43]
Joesph Lyle Menendez K13758 Serving a life sentence.[44] Convicted of the aforementioned 1989 murders of his parents with his brother, Erik.[45]
Mark Rogowski H27508 Serving a life sentence; denied parole.[46][47] Former skateboarder who was convicted of the 1991 rape-murder of Jessica Bergsten.[48][49][50]
  • Anand Jon – Former fashion designer convicted of rape and other sexual offenses.[51]
  • Kenneth Kimes Jr. – Son and accomplice of Sante Kimes.[52]
  • James Mitchell – Heir to the San Francisco-based Mitchell Brothers adult film business, one of the porn industry's pioneer dynasties during the 1960s and 1970s. Mitchell is the son of Jim Mitchell, who started the famous adult entertainment empire with his brother, Artie. He is a convicted murderer who was sentenced to 35 years to life in 2011 for killing the mother of his daughter with a softball bat in a Novato backyard and kidnapping their young daughter in 2009.[53]
  • Billie Dureyea Shell – Convicted of second-degree murder.[54][55][56]
  • Sirhan Sirhan – Assassin of Robert F. Kennedy.[57]
  • Brett Thomas – Teenaged spree killer and rapist.[58][59]
  • Tyler Williams – A perpetrator of the murders of Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder.[60]
  • Tex Watson – Convicted killer and member of the Manson Family.[61]



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  2. ^ "2020 Census - Census Block Map: San Diego County, CA" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. p. 230 (PDF p. 231/259). Retrieved August 14, 2022. Richard J Donovan Corr Facility
  3. ^ "Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD)". California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Retrieved September 24, 2011. 480 Alta Road San Diego, CA 92179.
  4. ^ a b Cavanagh, Maureen (February 1, 2010). "Doing Time in Donovan State Prison". KPBS. Retrieved September 24, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Life Inside R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility". KPBS. January 29, 2010. Archived from the original on October 28, 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2011.
  6. ^ "Otay Mesa Prison Area, California". The Center for Land Use Interpretation. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  7. ^ "California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Monthly Report of Population As of Midnight July 31, 2022" (PDF). California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Internal Oversight and Research. July 31, 2022. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 5, 2022. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  8. ^ "Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD)". CDCR. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
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  11. ^ Mejías-Pascoe, Sofía (November 14, 2021). "Retiring Donovan State Prison Warden Faced Criticism for COVID, Staff Disciplinary Decision". Times of San Diego. inewsource. Retrieved April 29, 2023.
  12. ^ Elias, Tom (April 27, 2023). "California prison guards get a warning". Ventura County Star. Retrieved April 29, 2023.
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  17. ^ "California Incarcerated Records & Information Search (CIRIS) - CDCR".
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  29. ^ Martinez, Edecio (February 8, 2010). "No Hollywood Ending: Jesse James Hollywood Gets Life in "Alpha Dog" Murder Case - CBS News". Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  30. ^ "Suge Knight agrees to serve 28 years in death of friend Terry Carter". NBC News. September 21, 2018. Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  31. ^ "Knight, Marion Hugh". CDCR Inmate Locator.
  32. ^ "Marion 'Suge' Knight Turns Himself In After Hit-and-Run That Killed Pedestrian". NBC News. January 30, 2015. Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  33. ^ Dillon, Nancy (March 17, 2015). "Surviving victim in Suge Knight hit-and-run case told police he assaulted Death Row Records co-founder". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 29, 2024.
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  36. ^ "Davis Teen Gets 52 Years To Life In Brutal Slaying Of Elderly Couple In Their Beds - CBS Sacramento". December 12, 2014. Retrieved February 29, 2024.
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  44. ^ "MENENDEZES ARE SPARED DEATH PENALTY". Washington Post. February 26, 2024. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved February 29, 2024.
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  46. ^ "Governor Newsom reverses parole for former pro-skater Mark 'Gator' Rogowski". January 16, 2023. Retrieved February 29, 2024.
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  48. ^ Wallace, Amy; Gaw, Jonathan (May 10, 1991). "Skateboard Star Confesses to Rape, Torture : Arraignment: Prosecutor alleges Rogowski confession includes brutal details of rape and beatings for three hours before strangling woman in a twisted revenge murder". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  49. ^ "Passionate Plea for No Mercy : Courts: At the sentencing of a former skateboarding star convicted of killing a young woman, the victim's father vents his anguish and anger over her brutal murder. Mark (Gator) Anthony won't be eligible for parole until 2010". Los Angeles Times. March 7, 1992. Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  50. ^ Black, Caroline (February 9, 2011). "Mark "Gator" Rogowski, Former Pro Skateboarder, Denied Parole for 1992 Calif. Murder-Rape - CBS News". Retrieved February 29, 2024.
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  52. ^ "Kimes, Kenneth". CDCR Inmate Locator.
  53. ^ "Mitchell, James Raphael Whitty". CDCR Inmate Locator.
  54. ^ "Shell, Billie Dureyea". CDCR Inmate Locator.
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  56. ^ "Inglewood man arrested in connection with shooting death of his wife". Daily Breeze. July 20, 2012. Retrieved January 18, 2024.
  57. ^ "Sirhan, Sirhan Bishara". CDCR Inmate Locator.
  58. ^ "Thomas, Brett M. P." CDCR Inmate Locator.
  59. ^ "Media Advisory – Brett Thomas Parole Hearing Information". Orange County District Attorney. April 17, 2015.
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  61. ^ "Watson, Charles Denton". CDCR Inmate Locator.
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  64. ^ "'Tool Box Killer' Who Preyed on Teenagers Dies in California". NBC Bay Area. February 25, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
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External links[edit]