Metropolitan Detention Center, Los Angeles

Metropolitan Detention Center, Los Angeles
Location Los Angeles, California
Status Operational
Security class Administrative facility (all security levels)
Population 980
Opened 1988
Managed by Federal Bureau of Prisons

The Metropolitan Detention Center, Los Angeles (MDC Los Angeles) is a United States federal prison in downtown Los Angeles, California which holds male and female inmates prior to and during court proceedings, as well an inmates serving short sentences. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.[1]


The 272,000-square-foot (25,300 m2) prison opened in December 1988 with a cost of $36 million, making Los Angeles the fifth U.S. city with a downtown federal prison. MDC Los Angeles had a distinct design, referring to housing areas as rooms rather than cells and not using iron bars on its cell doors. It had a special design using plate glass windows, balconies, and atriums. Kim Murphy of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the building has "more the look of a downtown office building than a prison."[2] It was the first BOP prison to completely ban smoking.[2]

Prior to the opening of MDC Los Angeles, Federal Correctional Institution, Terminal Island housed the Los Angeles area pretrial inmates. This situation caused overcrowding at FCI Terminal Island.[2]

The opening of MDC Los Angeles allowed prisoners whose trials are pending to be housed just two blocks from the U.S. District Courthouse, ending the time-consuming process of transporting them back and forth down the Harbor Freeway each day court is in session. The U.S. Marshal's Service saves at least $200,000 a year by not having to transport the usual 250 to 300 prisoners a week from FCI Terminal Island and the federal public defender's office saves $18,000 a year in telephone bills alone because it no longer has to rely on clients calling person-to-person collect from FCI Terminal Island.[2]


Various services are available to inmates at MDC Los Angeles, including drug treatment and education programs, Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, GED and ESL classes, and correspondence classes. Inmates may meet with a chaplain or a priest upon request.[3]

Notable Inmates (current and former)

Inmate Namejames David Wilson Register Numb74575-012er Status Detailsescaped June 1989 from the 8th floor with 4 inmates
Jose Cabrera Sablan 90470-011 Serving a life sentence. Pleaded guilty to murdering Correctional Officer Jose Rivera at the United States Penitentiary, Atwater on June 20, 2008; accomplice James Leon Guerrero also pleaded guilty and is serving a life sentence.[4]
Vianna Roman

Aaron Soto



Currently awaiting trial. Daughter and son-in-law of imprisoned Mexican Mafia kingpin Danny Roman; indicted in 2012 for allegedly receiving orders from Roman and directing gang activities which include extortion, robbery, drug trafficking and murder.[5]

See also


  1. "MDC Los Angeles". Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Murphy, Kim (January 3, 1989). "U.S. Opens a High-Rise Prison in Civic Center". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  3. Bosworth, Mary (2002). The U.S. Federal Prison System. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. pp. 253–254. ISBN 978-0761923046.
  4. Johnson, Brian (June 26, 2015). "No death penalty for inmate accused of fatally stabbing Atwater prison guard Jose Rivera". ABC30 Action News. KSFN-TV Fresno, CA. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  5. Martinez, Michael (December 6, 2012). "Feds bust Los Angeles gang controlled by inmate". CNN. Retrieved 20 October 2013.

Coordinates: 34°03′14″N 118°14′18″W / 34.0538°N 118.2382°W / 34.0538; -118.2382

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