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FDC Houston
Harris County - Federal Prison - Texas
Federal Detention Center Houston

Opened: 1999

Supervised by: Joe D. Driver

Total inmates: 872

Security: Administrative

Prison System: Federal Bureau of Prisons; South Central Region

Status: Active, opened in 1999

Employees: 320

Offender Gender: Male and Female

Security Level: Administrative, which means it is capable of holding prisoners of all security levels

Distinguishing Feature: Houston FDC might best be described as the federal equivalent of a jail, rather than a prison.  It is a holding facility, so that federal defendants who are awaiting trial or are currently in trial are detained at the facility.  It is also a holding location for federal inmates who may be testifying at trials for other criminal defendants.  Moreover, inmates who have received short sentences may be serve the duration of the sentence at Houston FDC. 

Houston FDC is an administrative facility, which houses many inmates prior to trial or during trial, witnesses who are federal inmates and scheduled to testify at trials, and some inmates who have received short prison sentences.  It holds male and female prisoners.  The population of the prison is very transient, so that it can be difficult to describe the population.  However, because prisoners are not generally housed there long enough to for the type of ongoing inmate relationships and support networks that may be present in facilities geared towards more permanent populations, there may be higher levels of friction in a prison like Houston FDC.  Furthermore, because many of the inmates are pre-trial, the Bureau of Prisons may not have had time to assess what type of risk they are to other prisoners or staff, and may not have made the appropriate security recommendations for each inmate. 


An administrative security detention center that houses inmates at all security levels, Houston FDC has harsher living conditions than one might find in other Bureau of Prisons managed locations.  Inmates generally negatively compare the living conditions in holding facilities to living conditions in prisons.  This may be due to the more transient nature of the population in the holding facilities.  The temporary population generally means fewer volunteers or volunteer-run programs, limited access to prison programming, and fewer meaningful work opportunities.

Prison programming is very self-study and focused on helping inmates achieve basic educational goals.  Inmates who do not have a high school diploma or the equivalent are required to participate in GED programming, and the accrual of “good time” credit is linked to participation in this program.  Non-English speaking inmates have access to an ESL program, and, non-English speaking sentenced inmates at Houston FDC must participate in ESL programming.  Inmates may participate in college correspondence courses, and inmates are responsible for all costs associated with that programming.  Houston FDC maintains physical and passive recreational programming, with a changing calendar posted for inmates to review. Houston FDC also has a number of religious programs. Inmates have access to a library that includes video tapes.  Inmates who are being held for trial or are in trial do not have access to the same programming as sentenced inmates. 

The Federal Bureau of Prisons does not maintain a prison industries program.  Inmates at Houston FDC may be assigned to work details, which relate to the maintenance and daily running of the prison.

The most noteworthy history surrounding Houston FDC is that Joel Lopez, an inmate at the facility, attempted to hire another inmate at the facility to kill the judge who had sentenced him to the prison.  In 2008, an altercation between two prisoners escalated into a larger disturbance, but did not become a full-scale riot. 

While infamous inmates may have passed through Houston FDC, there are no nationally known inmates who are associated with the prison.  The most infamous inmate may be Joel Lopez.  After being given a life sentence for a drug conviction, Lopez approached another inmate to set up a hit on the sentencing judge, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa.  However, the hit was detected and Lopez was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in addition to other charges linked to the planned assassination.       

Physical Prison Address:

HOUSTON, TX  77002

Mailing Address:

P.O. BOX 526255
HOUSTON, TX  77052

Phone Number: 713-221-5400

Fax Number: 713-229-4200

Email Address: HOU/[email protected]

Find an Inmate The Bureau of Prisons maintains an inmate locator service.

Send Money to an Inmate  All money at for prisoners in federal prisons must be processed through a central processing facility in Des Moines.

Purchase Commissary Items for an Inmate  Prisoners can purchase their own commissary items with funds in their inmate trust accounts; this link will take you to a list of items available in the prison commissary.  Commissary purchases are limited to $265 per month.

Visit an Inmate  Visitation hours at the facility are: Sunday 8am-11am and 12pm-3pm; Monday 8am-11am, 12pm-3pm, and 5pm-8pm; Thursday 8am-11am, 12pm-3pm, and 5pm-8pm; Friday 8am-11am and 12pm-3pm; Saturday 8am-11am and 12pm-3pm.  Holiday visiting hours are 8am-11and 12pm-3pm.  Inmates confined to special housing units may have restricted visiting hours.

Receive calls from an Inmate  Information on inmate phone calls, including how to get on the phone call list, can be found in the prison’s handbook.  Houston FDC uses the Trufone system. 

Email an Inmate Inmates in Bureau of Prisons facilities have access to Trulincs, a system that permits electronic correspondence that is similar to email or text messaging.


Year Built or Opened: 1999 Warden or Supervisor: Warden Joe D. Driver Daily Inmate Count: 905 Total Capacity: 872 Security Level(s): minimum - maximum

FDC Houston
Federal Detention Center
P.O. Box 526255
Houston, TX 77052

Phone Number(s): 209-386-0257
Fax Number: 209-386-4635
Email Address: ATW/[email protected]
HOU/[email protected]

1200 Texas Avenue
Houston, TX 77002

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