If you haven't made any summer vacation plans yet, hoo boy does the Cole County Sheriff's Department have a deal for you! For a mere $30, you can spend the night in the new county jail in Jefferson City and you don't even have to get arrested to do it!
It's a bargain, folks. The $30 includes two meals, a night in your own private cell (alone or with a cellmate of your choice), a commemorative Bed, Breakfast and Bars T-shirt and a complementary mug shot.
"We want to give taxpayers an opportunity to see what their tax dollars purchased," says Cole County Sheriff Greg White. "We also want them to see what goes into operating the jail and see how processes function. Also, it's much better to test things out on a very forgiving population."
The overnight visits will be on July 15 and 16 only. After that, the inmates will be moving in.
White and his staff will do their best to simulate a real-life jail experience. Although the visitors won't have to wear regulation jump suits (only men wear International Orange, by the way; ladies get lime green), they will have to eat prison food and sleep on prison mattresses, which White says are woefully thin, about two-and-a-half inches. Linens and pillows, however, are included.
The experience also includes what White calls a "modified booking" (no fingerprinting, but questions about health issues), a visit to the rec area and some TV time. "I'm thinking it'll be the Food Network or HGTV," White says meditatively. (Ah, yes! Bobby Flay and House Hunters! It'll be just like home!) And, of course, full lockdown at bedtime.
Unlike real inmates, though, visitors will get a full tour of the facilities and the opportunity to ask the wardens questions about their jobs. Oh, yeah, and they'll get to leave in the morning. White hadn't planned on asking his guests to fill out evaluation cards about how they enjoyed their experience, but now he thinks it might be valuable to ask if they noticed any possible escape routes.
To book your cell, call the sheriff's office at 573-634-9160. Currently, the jail has space for 180 visitors. (Technically, there will be 206 beds, but 22 of those will be in booking and four more in medical isolation.) All proceeds from the visits will be split 50/50 between the United Way and the sheriff's office.