Visitor Comments

Franklin County 

Historic Jail

Hampton, Iowa

​​The Franklin County Historic Jail provides an unparalleled, immersive look into life as a prisoner. Individuals interested in the sociological impact of imprisonment, adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers, and law-abiding people curious about unlocking the mysteries of what it's like to be incarcerated should consider this authentic, intense experience. Individuals who are curious about becoming lost in the theatrics of another world should also consider this. This is a real, legitimate operation, and staff create an experience that is safe, professional, legal and sane. I suspect there are very few places on Earth at this time that offer this type of simulation. Be advised that the experience is very intense and simulates many of the highly-controlled and stressful aspects of the environment of a local county jail -- minus, of course, many of the dangers you have heard about in real jail facilities in the news. This said, you will experience the reality of being confined in a jail. If you are considering a visit for any reason, staff is very open and helpful about answering questions about your stay prior to your visit and will make you feel safe. If you have been interested in this type of experience for any reason, please do not hesitate to reach out to the company.

​​I had a great time at your jail! It was an amazing experience, one I will never forget, and hope to repeat! The jail is an amazing place and I can see all the work you have put into it! You are doing an great job! I loved all my time there but especially the time in the dark cell shackled! I really enjoyed meeting you and the judge! Also thank your team for making my stay so real! I hope to see you again!

Wanted to say thanks for doing a great job with the role play. I think you are proving a valuable service to the community and an asset to the town.

​Thanks for the opportunity this last weekend it was eye opening.  I am a little sad that I had to leave so soon and would have liked staying longer as crazy as that sounds, but I am also glad to be free from incarceration.  You are running an incredible service that is done with professionalism.

​Thank you so much for your hospitality and for your leadership when you locked me up last week. I enjoyed every second and minute! Let me congratulate you for your impressive achievement! You miraculously discovered this incredible place in the middle of nowhere. I would not have expected that something like this - definitely worthwhile to be preserved as part of America's cultural heritage - would still exist. Respect! 

​Last week I was incarcerated there for three days. That jail is the real thing. The place is hard core, seriously real. And the experience of being locked in that steel and concrete cell surpasses any fantasy hands down. Still thinking about my experience. Absolutely loved it!!!

I want you to know I had an amazing time! The yard time was incredible and the time spent in the darkened cell were two stand out moments from a great experience. Thanks again for providing an outlet for my unique interests!

I wanted to write to thank you for the superb experience at the jail last week.  My three days there far exceeded my expectations.  In particular, I loved the interaction with the other prisoners, and I loved the yard time.  Well, actually, there wasn’t anything about the experience that I didn’t love, except for the restraint chair and that horrid episode of the Andy Griffith Show.  (Granted, I know I brought that on myself, but it was nonetheless my least favorite 22 minutes of my incarceration.)  You have done a spectacular job with your restoration, and I feel fortunate to have been able to experience the jail firsthand.  Additionally, I appreciated how clean the entire facility was.  You’re doing a great job with the jail, and I hope you have continued success in the future. (Note from the jailer: This inmate was made to watch the Andy Griffith Show as a result of his disrespect to the officer.)

Thank you again for a fantastic time!!! I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and am anxious to visit again.

Your jail is great and I thank you for bringing me thru the experiece so professionally.  I enjoyed the handcuffs - very professional and the shackles. Being in my cell for almost 12 hours each night in darkness was great. The isolation and darkness definitely gives one time to think.  The highlight was the exercise yard.

​I just did a term there; it is a real jail; not some make-believe jail, so you actually feel like a prisoner. You are treated like a real prisoner, in a real jail. Just like the prisoners were in this jail until 1988 when the county closed it. It is great. You are booked into the jail, just like a real prisoner; your clothes are taken, except for shorts; you are given an orange jail uniform with "prisoner" on it; you are fingerprinted, your picture taken, and in handcuffs you are moved into the jail, and then the heavy iron doors are slammed shut, and you are a prisoner for an hour, a day, or a week, or....

Thank you so much for the awesome experience of being locked in your jail this week.  I can’t tell you how immensely I enjoyed the jail, the captivity, and getting to know you a little better.  I really don’t think there was a bad moment in the entire four days. Here are a few of the highlights that come to mind:
The searches, especially after yard time.  Being cuffed and shacked in the isolation cell the first day (even though I complained about it, I loved it.)  The yard time, especially when the two guys came by on their bicycles and talked to us.  Having the windows open and the sound of the traffic and the trains and the church bells.  Listening to that strong storm at night and seeing the flashes of lightning.  Weeding the garden and cleaning the jail as part of my work detail.  Wearing the old prisoner jumpsuits.  Banging on the bars.  Trying to ‘escape,’ even though I knew it was futile.  The sensations of being in the jail—the smell of the jail, the feel of steel and concrete, the sounds of the locks.  Being locked in cell 3 with the heavy irons in the short 1800's role play (even though I know that was a break from the 1967 jail role-play).  I hope to see you again soon.

I just wanted to send you a note thanking you again for a one-of-a-kind experience. Your passion for the jail and its history come through.  From the beginning to the end, the experience went beyond my expectations.  Your willingness to customize it for each person is commendable. 

That jail experience was quite intense.  It was about three days before my mind ramped down again. Especially effective was that things kept getting ramped up and more intense the longer there. I think it's more interesting for the prisoners and guards to be challenging each other. Taking things to the next level......... and uncooperative prison punks deserve punishment!  It was interesting to see the original equipment of an old county jail.......and although about 100 years old it was all meticulously maintained and in working order. I'm an officer in the military and getting away from having to give orders for three days; and especially getting away from any and all email, cell phones, internet, radio, and tv for three days allowed me to focus my mind and get perspective on some things.  

What can be said about spending 4 days in the County Jail? Awesome! I did 4 days to unwind, enjoy a little alone time. Didn't take long to go from being nervous during intake to starting to think like an inmate. Every sound you hear gives you a clue to what is happening outside the confines of your cell. Shackles on your ankles all the time. Cuffed behind back when outside of locked cell. A powerful experience. Who you are means nothing once you're in custody. Oh and the experience is rich in history of the facility, if you choose to listen. I can't wait to go back!

My experience over the last few days was nothing short of amazing. I appreciate the enormous amount of thought and hard work you put into the jail to make it possible for people to experience incarceration first hand. I am in the process of journaling my experience before it fades from memory. There were some special moments that I would not want to forget, such as last night when I was locked in cell 1, staring at the shadows cast by a street light shining through the bars, making a grid pattern on the wall and the floor. The scene was cinematic and made me so aware that I was in jail.  You were right when you said “every cell has its own magic”.  I hope to see you again soon.

Thank you very much for all the deference and professionalism shown during my stay.
The knowledge, data and stories told by you were awesome. I found a place where I felt safe although I was locked up. I had the chance to do an inner trip and redesign what I want for my future life, as well as to give a 360 degree to the meaning of the word jail. It is not only a place to retain people, it is a space to think, discover, feel, and dare. Restrains and handcuffs were opportunities to explore and value the body and space. The awesome story of the roleplay, which took several twists during my stay ,made an inner and new character come out of me as well as inspiring creativity. The most valuable aspect of the whole experience was the staff. These great hard-working people, focused on making your experience as interesting, attractive, surprising and realistic as it could be. I can brag now that I consider the main sheriff and his assistant good friends. Maybe that could help me on the next role play.

I just want to start out by saying thank you for the experience you provided this weekend. I had a lot of fun getting to know you, learning about the history of the jail and participating in the role play. It was a fantastic and very realistic experience. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect with the role play. I was very nervous in the beginning not knowing anyone, and I didn't know how people would react to my soft-spoken demeanor and my size. I have been very self-conscious about my size for years, and that has always held me back from participating or reaching out to others. (It took me two years of inquiring to talk myself into coming.) From the start of this experience, I didn't feel like I was treated differently at all. Everyone was down to earth, easy going, caring, and wanted to make the role play fun and safe, which made the whole experience much better.  Also, I just wanted to say that your website is excellent and some things that you have said on there in regards to role play in general. For the longest time, I have been ashamed and hard on myself for being interested in this type of stuff. I couldn't tell anyone about it because they wouldn't understand the interest, it wasn't normal for someone to like those activities and I had the hardest time coming to the understanding that what I was interested in was normal. What you have said is on your website is that you compare roleplay as to kids playing cops and robbers and messing around but as adults who never lost interest in it. It is good, old-fashioned, fun play that we participate in and there is nothing to be ashamed about in wanting to participate. It has taken me a long time, but I have come to realize that there is no reason to be ashamed of being interested in this. The weekend confirmed this when I met others who were participating. So thank you very much!

The dislikes are the typical things like the stints of boredom, long periods of being by yourself, etc. but that is jail, and that is what this experience is about. In the end, it was good for me to experience it because I got to do a lot of thinking because of it. I understand why you recommend three days. The first day for me, I was just taking in the whole thing. It was almost like a shock to the system that I was not in control anymore, and it took time for me to get over the initial shock to get into the role. By the time I did, it was the day I was leaving and has started the "dis-respectfulness" as officer Steele would call it that led me into the chair as punishment. That was the highlight of it all when I got into character with Officer Steele. I came out of my shell, was talking back, being more resistant with the officers. This was definitely something that was out of my usual comfort zone in how I was talking back, acting up.  It was all in good fun. Overall, it was a fantastic experience. I had a lot of fun and can't wait to do it again.

My humblest thanks for an utterly amazing, eye opening experience . one adrenaline rush and/ or "oh shit what did I get myself into " moment after another.  And along the way I learned a lot about myself.  Only now that I'm at the airport am I starting to reflect on it all.

I wanted to give you my deepest thanks for amazing and literally life-changing experience. It was great walking around town right after and wondering why my legs feel so free and the word “sir” slipped out few times too.
Officer Pitbull was great as well as officer Steele too, wonderful gentleman (all of you are)