Guests can volunteer to go to jail without committing a crime. They experience being arrested, jail intake procedures and incarceration in a realistic historical jail roleplay. Learn about what jail was like in the 19th and 20th centuries from the inmate's perspective. Guests are selected based on their applications.
When you arrive for a jail roleplay experience, expect to be arrested by a uniformed officer upon your arrival. The procedure is realistic. We encourage guest inmates to role play, but please be safe: no hard physical resistance or fighting. You will be placed in a holding cell and your belongings will be taken from you and stored. You will be issued a uniform, get fingerprinted and mug shots will be taken.
Most of our jail roleplays include a trip to the courtroom. As a defendant, you will see the judge and make your plea of guilt or innocence. He will rule whether you get bail or not. Spoiler alert: Everyone ends up going to jail as an inmate.
looking at the cell block from the Booking Room
Much of your jail roleplay experience will depend on you. If you pretend to be non compliant to the officer, you will find yourself in a more severe situation. Inmates are put into the inner cell block. They are assigned to a cell. If they are medium security, they are allowed out of their cells into the cellblock at scheduled times to eat, watch TV or play games. They get also get optional yard time. They must be handcuffed and escorted by an officer when taken to the shower, yard, courtroom, or intake room. Maximum Security inmates stay in their cells with no privileges.
Two person cell
Solitary Confinement Cell
Jail is full of routine. You will be told when to eat, when to shower, and when to go out to the recreation yard. There are long hours of doing time that can be quite oppressive. Dealing with periods of boredom is one of the biggest challenges of imprisonment. You may want to use the time to relax and reset. Medium Security inmates get a few privileges. Maximum security inmates get none. They are placed alone in a cell shackled as was done in the early days of the jail. This is particularly oppressive. You can experience both regular and Maximum security during your jail roleplay.
The cell block includes three cells
The recreation yard (on the right)
Officers decide when to do a cell search. They feed inmates at scheduled times. You are searched and showered when they tell you to. Recreational activities are a privilege. You get disciplined if you don't comply to the officers. The jail roleplaying feels real. Depending on scheduling, you could find yourself as the only one in the jail, or you might find yourself with one or two others in detention. The jail roleplay is best with more than one inmate. You can reserve the jail for your private group.
Going to the recreation yard is optional
Secured inmates on their way to the yard
Inmate guests are selected based on the applications that they send. We review each application carefully. A link to the application is located at the bottom of this page. To participate, guests should be in fairly good health both physically and mentally. Keeping the roleplay safe for all who attend is important. We screen the applicants in an attempt to make sure that that we don't have anyone who might be inappropriate, dangerous, or not mentally grounded in reality. In other words, in our jail, the bad guys are not invited. We prefer to play with good people who only want to pretend to be inmates. We welcome and encourage people of all genders, races, orientations, and religions to come jail roleplay. We love diversity. All applicants should read everything on this web page, including the rules of conduct, before sending an application.
If you are invited to come, you should do the following to prepare for your visit.
1. Get your transportation set up. Once you know an arrival time and date, let us know so that we can prepare for you. If something comes up and you need to cancel or change the time, please let us know as soon as you can.
2. let us know of any special needs relating to food, religious requirements, health needs, time outs needed for work, or any other considerations we might need to deal with. We are very flexible about pausing the roleplaying when needed in order to meet your needs in the real world. But we need to know those needs before you come so we can plan for it.
3. A few days before you come, check in by text or email just to confirm that everything is still scheduled as planned. We want to eliminate any surprises in case either you or we calendared it incorrectly.
4. The day you come, send a text message to us when you are in Iowa and about an hour or two out. If there are any delays in your flight or other travel problems, let us know so we can plan.
The nearest International Airport is Des Moines, Iowa. (DSM) It is a 100 mile drive to Hampton. DSM is serviced by United, American, Delta, Southwest, and Allegiant. There is an airport shuttle service that we offer. The shuttle service is $120 each way, and accepts cash only. It has to be scheduled two weeks in advance. You can also rent a car and drive here. If you are driving, turn north off of Hwy. 3 into the alley behind the jail between Napa Auto Parts. Note: Minneapolis - St. Paul Airport is 165 miles from Hampton. (No shuttle service from there.) But flights into Minneapolis are less expensive than into Des Moines.
Pack light. The only thing you will be allowed to have during the jail roleplay is your medications and medical devices such as CPAP devices. You are also allowed to have a book if you want. No other personal items will be allowed unless you let us know of your needs in advance. Your jail inmate uniform, underclothing, bedding, and personal items (toothbrush, soap, towel) are all provided by the facility. Your belongings are kept in a secure location.
Most guests need to use thier mobile devices from time to time. We understand that there is a real world out there that you may still need to be connected with. Guests are permitted to get cell phone time when needed. In order to not interfere with historic role playing, inmate guests are taken out to the intake cell to use thier devices.
As part of the jail roleplaying adventure, simple basic meals are provided to inmates by an outside vendor. If you have a special diet (Diabetic, vegetarian, allergies, etc.) let us know in advance of your visit. The food is basic and similar to what might be served in a jail or prison. Guests say that the food served at the jail is pretty good. No one ever goes hungry. Meals are served on metal trays as when the jail operated. The meals are an important part of the jail role playing adventure.
Please bring your medications and instructions for when they need to be administered while you are in jail. We provide the medications to inmates at the designated times. Please remind staff of your medications. and other medical needs during the jail roleplay.
Because of the age of this historical building, access could be limitted for some guests. The doors (made before 1880) that open into the cells and cell block are only two feet wide. There are low doors, steps, and uneven floors. This may prevent some individuals from full participation in all areas of the facility. We still want to provide as much of an adventure as possible. Let us know your needs.
Flush toilets are located in the intake cell, inner cell block, and shower area. The three cells have no plumbing but are are provided with portable toilets. The doors are only 2 feet wide and have a low head clearance. There is a step down into the Outer cell block. There are two steps up to the secure shower room. There is an outside ramp to the recreation yard and jail entrance that is handicap accessible. There is also a handicap accessible restroom in the former Sheriff's house on the main floor. The courtroom is located to the left of the Jail intake room in the former Sheriff's house in the former Parlor.
In this jail roleplay you are pretending to be an inmate who is in detention in jail. You are encouraged to play and make up the background of the character that you are pretending to be. You may choose to resist the person playing the officer. You may choose to be rebellious. Or you may choose to be compliant. You decide and run the story to a great extent. Don't be afraid to "get into your role". You are the star of the jail roleplay. You make it up as you go along. The way that the story goes in the roleplay, and the way that the guards treat you, depends on your behavior. If you play a bad inmate who is resisting or being disrespectful to the officer, you will be treated more severely. You may be put in police restraints or strapped to an emergency restraint chair in the jail. We welcome you to play. We still like to play cops and robbers like we did as children. The jail roleplay will often develop into a "prisoners versus the guards" scenario. It is okay for you to curse at your guard. It is okay to play the bad guy. We will treat you as one. We understand that it is all play and that after we are all done we will shake hands and maybe go out to lunch afterwards. Please do not resist us to the point of excess. We do not want to have anyone hurt. All play needs to be done in a safe way. Safety is more important than the jail roleplay activity. We want your experience to be very intense, but safe.
Even though corporal punishment was common place in jails at one time, we do not role play any corporal punishment that involves hitting, slapping, or beatings. However, we do use some of the other methods of punishments that were used. These include, solitary confinement, loss of privileges, and restraints.
In jail roleplaying, we pretend. But it is important that you do not pretend that you are sick, or hurt. We need to know what is real. If you say that you are sick and hurt, we will believe you. If you really are sick or having any physical or mental problems, please make sure that you tell us so that we can make sure that you are safe. If you need to pause or stop the role playing, simply tell a staff member to pause or stop the roleplaying. Then we can deal with any problem or issue that you have. Staff members will stop the roleplay and possibly eject a player from the jail if they are playing unsafe, or if the staff member feels that continuing the players role play adventure would not be safe mentally or physically for that person.
Throughout the day we tend to jump in and out of the jail roleplaying. You stay locked up as an inmate, but we often end up having some interesting conversations. It is considered a safe place for people to be open and honest with their feelings with like minded folks.
1. All role playing must be done in a safe and sane way.
2. No illegal activities of any kind are allowed at the facility.
3. No inappropriate sexual conduct will be permitted. This includes any activity that might be considered as being "adult entertainment" by local zoning regulations.
4. No activity that would involve personal fluid transfer of germs such as spitting.
5. No overly aggressive physical contact is permitted. We don't want anyone getting hurt.
6. No illegal substances are allowed on property. (Cannabis is illegal in Iowa)
7. No pornographic materials are allowed on the property.
8. No tobacco products of any kind are allowed in the building. If you need to smoke or use tobacco, you can request to be taken outside to the yard.
9. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted.
Going to jail as a group is always the most fun.