Volunteers in Adams County, Pennsylvania, paid $40 for an all-inclusive stay in a new, state-of-the-art prison. Children between 12 and 18 years of age stayed for half-price, but each had to have an adult with them. Spouses could share a cell. The event was a fundraiser for the Adams County Homeless Shelter, but it was also a training exercise for the prison staff. Of each $40 fee, the shelter received almost $38, with the remainder paying for the food served. Two meals, served on plastic trays, were included in the price. For an additional $5, inmates could purchase a commemorative T-shirt that read “I spent the night in jail to help the homeless.”
The inmates arrived by noon on Saturday to be signed in and issued their essential orange jumpsuits. After that, they were provided their meals on a prison time table and attended the same educational sessions offered to real prisoners by prison staff. Release was at noon Sunday. Overnight guests stayed in a minimum security area in cells that are like rooms. Accommodations were made for privacy. The roster of inmates was a mix of men and women, a diverse blend of college professors, people who conduct prison ministries for area churches, and residents of other areas who simply thought it would be an excellent opportunity to experience prison life – without breaking a law.