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Pitchess Detention Center Timeline
1938: Wayside Honor Rancho, first honor farm in California, opened to house a few select prisoners. Dairy farmer George Dunn had sold county the property for $147,150.
1951: Prisoner population up to about 3,000. Texaco discovers oil on jail property.
1957: East Facility enlarged to accommodate more than 700 maximum-security inmates.
1963: East Facility expanded again; cogeneration plant built to provide energy for jail.
1975: South Facility opened. Rancho laundry facility built.
1983: Facility renamed Peter J. Pitchess Honor Rancho.
1987: North Facility opened.
1990: North County Correctional Facility opened.
1992: Farming operations eliminated.
1993: Elmer T. Jaffe Visitor Center built.
1995: Ranch compound closed due to budget constraints.
1995: Name of facility changed to Pitchess Detention Center.
2001: South Facility closed due to budget constraints.
2002: South Facility partially reopened and renamed North Annex.
Nestled in the rolling hills of Castaic, on 2,620 acres, is the Peter J. Pitchess Detention Center, named after the former Sheriff. It is the temporary home of about 8,600 inmates. It was established in 1938 by then-Sheriff Eugene Biscailuz as the Wayside Honor Rancho, a minimum-security prison where inmates worked on a farm setting.
Shortly after the initial purchase, minimum security barracks were constructed and became home to nearly 1,000 inmates. Included in the original land deal was a small herd of dairy cows and an old barn. Inmates were trained to work the dairy in addition to several added farm operations, such as crops, beef cattle, hog farm and nursery. Due to budget constraints, all jail farm operations were closed in 1992.
In an effort to bring in extra income from PDC property, the County of Los Angeles currently leases out approximately 1,500 acres for commercial interests such as sod farming and a small herd of grazing cattle.
Traveling east on Farm Center Road from Biscailuz Drive you will notice several horse corrals and vacant beef cattle pens. Prior to closing in 1992, the beef cattle facility was used for inmate vocational training, with the proceeds paying for the operation. The nearby hills are still leased for grazing cattle.
In 1951, oil was discovered on the property, which brought in an unexpected source of revenue. Today there are about a dozen functioning oil wells running.
Shortly after the development of the oil reserves on the property, leases were signed with various energy companies to store natural gas underground. Today PDC contains one of the largfest reservoirs of natural gas in Southern California. Just behind this storage area and outside the PDC property boundary is property which is a privately owned industrial center.
In addition to oil wells and natural gas reservoirs on the property, there are eleven fresh water wells and seven water storage tanks and/or ponds on the property.
The Pitchess Detention Center contains three operational custody facilities housing a combined average of approximately 6,500 inmates. The three operational custody facilities are the North County Correctional Facility, East Facility and North Facility. Additionally, there are approximately a dozen support facilities on the property. Number of employees: 780 sworn deputies; 650 civilians.
Although no longer operational, the Ranch Facility is the oldest facility on the property. It was built in 1938 and was taken out of service in the mid-1990s. All of the lower compound inmate barracks were removed in the late 1990s. The Ranch Facility has always been classified as a minimum security facility. During its heyday, the Ranch housed approximately 2,000 inmates in an open-air type setting. The inmates were housed in 27 single-story barracks which averaged about 80 inmates each.
Located at the extreme west end of the old Ranch Facility are the administrative offices, training classrooms and officer dining room.
Located on the north side of the old Ranch facility are the administrative offices of the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District — Correctional Education Division. This unit provides educational services to all inmates at PDC.
Located within the administrative offices are several support units including the Custody Training Unit, Operation Safe Jails Unit and the offices of the PDC Commander.
The PDC-East Facility is the oldest operational unit in the county and is located immediately east of the old Ranch Facility. It opened in 1951 as a simple disciplinary housing unit for minimum-security inmates working on the Wayside Honor Rancho. Later it became the PDC's first maximum-security jail. It once included a bakery and print shop where inmates received vocational training. The facility houses about 1,000 inmates. East Facility currently participates in a program to house approximately 400 parole violators awaiting their parole revocation hearings, also known as a "Morrissey Hearing."
Situated directly in front of the entrance to PDC-East Facility is a small park dedicated to Deputy Shayne York who was tragically murdered in 1997. Many of the employees take their lunch in the park. During the early morning and late afternoon hours, deer may be seen grazing in the park.
The PDC-North Facility is a maximum security complex located in the northwest portion of the PDC property. Opened in 1987, the facility's current population is pre-sentenced and sentenced male inmates with security levels ranging from low to high. The inmate housing area consists of four individual concrete modules, each containing four dormitory-style living quarters, eight disciplinary cells, a multipurpose room, a medical center, a visiting center and three security stations. Each dormitory has the capacity to house 96 inmates. The dormitories were designed with the intention of creating a safe and secure, self-contained living environment. Each dormitory has a sleeping area, dining area (which doubles as a day-room) and restroom facilities. Each dormitory has access to an exercise yard.
North Annex (formerly South Facility): In the summer of 2002, North Facility's sister facility, previously known as South Facility, was reassigned the operational control of North Facility and renamed North Annex. The North Annex was originally built in 1975 as a medium security compound. Currently, only the lower portion of the compound containing the newer-style barracks is used to house inmate workers. An inmate worker is classified by their security level and a history of good behavior within the jail system. Once identified, they are interviewed, and if deemed suitable, given the opportunity to learn a vocational skill which can earn them good-time credit, and more importantly, provide them with the knowledge, confidence and job experience needed to compete in the job world once they are released from custody. Examples of vocational classes offered are woodworking, gardening, nursery operations, painting and masonry. North Annex also houses kitchen and laundry inmate work crews. Like all of our jail facilities, both North Facility and North Annex offer inmates religious services, jail stores, school programs, substance abuse meetings, medical services, inmate services and weekend and holiday visitation. The North Annex is made up of 20 single-story barracks, and when fully operational, had a maximum capacity of approximately 1,900 inmates.
North County Correctional Facility (NCCF): The North County Correctional Facility, also referred to as NCCF, is the newest and largest facility at the PDC. Opened in 1990, NCCF is a maximum security complex comprised of five jails within one facility. It is designed to operate as five separate units, housing approximately 3,600 inmates. In addition to the general inmate housing areas, it has a disciplinary segregation housing area and an infirmary.
The North County Correctional Facility features several major vocational training programs which include printing, sign production, woodworking and clothing manufacturing. These vocational systems provide a substantial cost offset in the operation of the facility. Important services are provided to the inmates through educational, vocational and counseling programs which are designed to assist in making inmates self-sufficient within the law.
PDC's main entrance is located at the extreme southwest end of the property immediately next to Interstate 5. In 1993, the main entrance was renovated and moved several hundred feet east of its original position to make way for the new and expanded visitor center.
The Dr. Elmer T. Jaffe Inmate Visitor Center was constructed over the original visitor site immediately adjacent to the main entrance gate. The facility was completed in 1993 with a new 10-acre parking lot capable of handling over 1,500 cars. The visitor center is designed to process the hundreds of inmate visitors who come for visits on the weekends or holidays. On average, the center will handle approximately 5,700 visitors per weekend. Visitors are escorted onto buses that make stops at all of the individual custody facilities.
Continuing further up Biscailuz Drive are PDC's Weapons Training Facilities. First opened in 1955, the facility contains about a dozen different ranges. Most of the ranges are used for pistol, rifle, shotgun and chemical agent training. Also located in this area is the Sheriff's Relief Emporium Store.
PDC Weapons Training Facilities: The PDC Weapons Training Unit consists of 12 shooting ranges located on the southern edge of the PDC property. These ranges are used primarily for the training of members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and have been in use since the 1940s. some of the ranges are also used occasionally by members of other state, local and federal agencies including the FBI and DEA. Unfortunately, the ranges are not open for use by the general public.
There are six deputies and a sergeant assigned to the PDC Weapons Training Unit. They are tasked with all of the recruit firearms training and the firearms training for in-service personnel. A wide variety of training is conducted on the various ranges including pistol, shotgun, rifle, automatic weapons and chemical agent training. The training is conducted at various times of the day and night, depending on the needs of the department. Since the time at which darkness begins varies throughout the year, the training hours also vary throughout the year.
All of the Sheriff's Academy recruits and the recruits of some participating agencies are trained on the facility. There are approximately 8,000 people per year trained on the various ranges.
Directly southeast and above the Weapons Training Facilities is an area under lease by the Southern California Gas Company. Just outside the PDC property boundary is a private industrial area.
Castaic Creek Flood Control Basin: Just east of Interstate 5 runs Castaic Creek. This area acts as a flood control basin for Castaic Dam. Much of this area is currently under lease for sod farming operations.
Traveling north along Biscailuz Drive, you will pass by several vital PDC support facilities including the Facilities Services Complex, motor pool, helicopter landing pads and the Special Enforcement Bureau Range and training areas.
At the junction of Biscailuz Drive and Farm Center Road is the Facilities Services Complex. This unit provides general maintenance and construction services for PDC.
SEB Training Area: Traveling east on Farm Center Road you will enter the Sheriff's Special Enforcement Bureau Training Area. The area contains several unique training facilities including a live fire house, small arms range and long rifle range.
At the junction of Biscailuz Drive and Dairy Road you will notice the motor pool and vehicle maintenance shops. Completed in 1992, the facility provides fuel and maintenance services for all types of county vehicles.
Located just west of the motor pool is the heliport and fueling area.
Cogeneration Plant: The PDC Cogeneration, Brine and Waste Treatment Plant was brought online in 1989 and produces all the electricity and steam needed to operate all of the PDC facilities. The Brine and Waste Water Treatment Plant provides recyclable water for all ranch operations.
North County Court Services Transportation Bureau / North County Metrolink Team: Located between the PDC East Facility and NCCF are the administrative buildings for the North County Metrolink Operations and the North County Court Services Transportation Bureau. This facility has the primary responsibility of transporting a daily average of 400 inmates to north county courts.
Laundry & Warehouse Facilities: Located directly north of the East Facility are the PDC Laundry and Warehouse Facilities. The laundry is run by inmate workers and handles over 20 million pounds of inmate clothing and bedding each year. The large warehouse located immediately next to the Laundry stores most of the supplies needed for the day-to-day operations at PDC.
Los Angeles County Fire Department Camp 12: Located northeast of NCCF is the L.A. County Fire Department's Fire Suppression Training Area, sometimes referred to as "Disneyland." The training area is used to train selected inmate volunteers in basic fire fighting skills needed to fight brush fires and build fire breaks.
L.A. County Fire Camp 12 Field Office: The Fire Department's Administrative and Equipment Staging Facility is located just north of Wayside Canyon Road across from the old Ranch Facility.
Bachelor Officers' Quarters & Recreation Area: Located north of Wayside Canyon Road from the PDC administrative offices is the Bachelor Officers' Quarters and Recreation Area. The BOQ provides overnight accommodations for those officers who work double-shift duty. The Rec Area is supported through voluntary staff donations.
Old Hog Farm Facility: Located directly east of the North Facility are the remains of the Hog Farm which shut down in 1992. When operational, the hog farm provided inmate vocational training as well as pork products for the inmates.
Arson/Explosives Detail Range: Continuing a quarter mile east on Hog Farm Road you will encounter the Arson/Explosives Detail Demolition and Training Range.
Arson/Explosives Classroom Facilities: Located directly northwest of the nursery along North Gate Road is the Arson/Explosive Detail's Classroom and Training Building. This building has in the past served as an inmate vocational classroom and Emergency Operations Center.
PDC Nursery: Located directly north of the North Facility is the PDC Nursery. The nursery provides plants and landscaping services for county facilities as well as vocational training for inmates. The nursery also operates a 3,000-tree peach orchard directly west of the nursery.
Continuing north on North Gate Road is the Jack Bones Sr. Equestrian Center, home of the Sheriff's Mounted Reserve Posse. It also serves as the site of other department family-oriented events.