Located in the southern part of San Diego, the East Mesa Reentry Facility (EMRF) is situated in the foothills of Otay Mesa, overlooking the Mexican border. Originally a juvenile facility, it was reclassified in 2013 as a reentry facility to introduce new work and behavioral therapy programs to male inmates who are incarcerated.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department quickly realized they needed more room because of the reclassification. An expansion, completed in June 2014, opened up 400 additional beds, providing room for approximately 1,000 inmates to take educational courses and life skills classes. Due to the working nature of the facility, the EMRF is able to provide more rehabilitative programs than other jails of its size—in addition to earning a GED, inmates are able to earn certifications in many trades, such as construction, computer graphics, and printing press operation.
During the expansion, it was clear that the EMRF not only had to plan for current needs, but they also had to have an eye on the future. One of the plans was to have eligible split-sentence offenders (a sentence that is split into two parts—incarceration and probation) finish their time at the EMRF instead of at a San Diego jail, which meant the population of the facility was always going to be increasing.