Voluntary Solitary Confinement: Clifton's Jail is Now a Hotel - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Voluntary Solitary Confinement: Clifton's Jail is Now a Hotel

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(KCEN) -- The orange jump-suits, the metal bars -- a stay in jail conjures up some common images. They usually don't include a queen-size bed.

One entrepreneur is trying to change that.

In the quiet town of Clifton, down an alley covered in murals, sits the old city jail. It's basically a concrete box.

"It was just sitting here empty," said Kaye Johnson. So she bought the Clifton clink. "Everybody, when they hear it, 'You bought a what?'"

A little TLC -- "Its the idea of re-purposing with a twist," Johnson said -- and now you can do time here, and leave whenever you want.

The sounds of a different era fill the two-cell hotel. There's no TV, just a record player. Johnny Cash's "At Folsom Prison" and Elvis' "Jail House Rock" sit in the stack of vinyl.

It's voluntary solitary confinement.

"I'm not normal, and I think there's a lot of people that aren't quite normal out there," Johnson said, "so I'm always looking for the weird places to stay, whether it be a lighthouse or tree house, and I'd never spent the night in jail."

And it's definitely got that real jail feel to it. Even the bars are the original steel ones used back in the 1930s.

The jail fell out of use in the '70s, Johnson thinks, four decades after the city built it.

"We certainly didn't put Bonnie and Clyde in there," said Jerry Hill.

Hill was a constable in Clifton 40 years ago. He locked up one person in his five years on patrol, a young man who had had a couple too many.

"Got two cells in this little jail we have here, and I said, 'Pick you a room,'" Hill said.

He gave him a blanket -- "I said, 'You comfortable?' 'Oh yeah.'" -- locked up, and left.

"And just as I was going to walk out, he said, 'Uh, Jerry, can you give me a wake-up call in the morning about 7?' He said, 'I got to grease a combine,'" Hill said with a laugh.

Now the solid metal window coverings are on the inside, and the guests call the shots.

"You don't get breakfast," Johnson said, "but you do get a bottle of wine and you do get a little whiskey."

It's a bed and booze, with a friendly reminder to hold onto the soap.

"I didn't want it to be wasted," she said.

The two cells are split into one bedroom and a bathroom. That bathroom keeps the jail aesthetic; it's a concrete shower stall, and an industrial-style toilet without a lid.

There's also a sitting area with dominos and the record player -- the old jailer's office. The entire building is meant for one reservation.

When you get there, you get the keys to the outside of the jail house, and it's essentially a self-contained condo. The cell doors even close and lock.

On the concrete roof, there's a gas fire pit for the evenings, and chairs to lay out when it's nice.

Johnson leaves a Polaroid camera and a roll of film for guests to use, and previous guests often leave snapshots of their stay on a bulletin board outside the cells.

The price on weekdays is $155 per night, and on weekends $175 per night.

Visit The Cell Block's web site for reservation details.
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