I was then escorted naked, except for slippers, to the basement where Bob locked on a set of Hyatt leg-irons. The leg irons were locked to an eight-foot length of chain that had the other end locked to the cell bars. Bob put me in the center cell, locked the door, moved the cuffs from behind my back to my front, passed my uniform through the cell bars and told me to get dressed. I had ten minutes till lights out. My first thought, accompanied by a feeling of pride, was, "I know how to get dressed while wearing handcuffs and leg irons". Then I laughed to myself about feeling proud about it.
The cell measured in CMUs was 4 by 5 by 10.5. CMUs are 8 by 8 by 16 inches -- so the cell is about 64 inches wide by 80 inches deep by about 84 inches high. The floor was concrete. The front side was steel bars. The only paint was a few remaining chips from at least two old paint jobs on the cell bars and door. It was a bit bigger than I had been expecting. I guess I was hoping for something that would feel a bit "claustrophobic" after a few hours. With the bars for one wall, the cell felt quite open.
The cell was equipped with a toilet and a bed. The toilet being a 5 gallon white plastic pail with a green lid. On top of the lid there were a few sheets of light blue toilet paper. The bed and its accoutrements was straight out of Bob Barker's prison supply catalog. It had a green 4-inch-thick mattress, two wool blankets, and a pillow. The pillow case looked like it came from elsewhere. The mattress and pillow labels were the only reading materials. (Unless you want to count some hard-to-read yellow print on the mattress itself.)
There were bits of dust on the floor and around the mattress. The walls at the end of the cell looked like they had been extended so that the bed would fit. The front of the cell was bolted to pieces of wood. Not all of the bolt holes were used, but more than enough to keep the bars and the cell door in place. If I had been given a wrench, I could have gotten out in about 10 minutes. Bob didn't offer me a wrench. And even with the bars loose I'm sure I couldn't have gone very far with an 8' by 5' panel of steel bars chained to my ankles!
The ceiling was half-inch plywood mounted with Phillips head screws into 2x4s. The plywood was in two sections, a smaller piece near the front. The front piece of plywood did not quite reach the wall. There was a gap that I could reach up into the space above the cell. I found a cement brick above the south wall. I found it by reaching through the gap and feeling around. It was retrieved by reaching out of the cell and back into the space above the plywood. (I "gave" the brick to my "captors".) There might be other things up there, still.
In the back piece of plywood is a light fixture with a single incandescent bulb behind quarter-inch hardware cloth. The hardware cloth is held in place with a 1-inch-thick wood frame, also attached with Phillips screws. No tamper-proof hardware here. About two feet from the light fixture there is a round 2 inch opening with a plastic grill. This could be pushed in a bit, but it did not slide sideways. Considering the opening is only 2 inches across, I don't spend much time on it. I assume it was for audio though I don't know if it was a speaker, microphone, or both.
I can't reach the cell to the north. The cell to the south has different bars, ones with square cross-sections. The bars on my cell have a round cross sections with two small bulges to keep them from rotating.
Outside the cells is a barren area of about 12 by 16 feet. A few feet out from my cell door, attached to the ceiling, is a video camera aimed at my cell.
Clockwise from my cell was:
Beyond the sliding door is a space of about 5 by 9 feet. In this area there is a table where keys, cuffs, and whips are kept. The entrance and exit to the basement cell area is past this table to the north through another room. The bottom step is loose. Three steps up is a landing with poor head clearance.
All of the details in the world won't get you out of the cell. The reality is that being in a cell is dull. The MCF cell has no light switch, no clock, no reading material and no phone. It never got really dark, it seemed like there was a night light in the cell to the north. I could tell if it was day or night if the lights were down, by some traces of light that came in through a painted-out window to the east. There is little sound most of the time, but there were clues to what was going on in the rest of the world. During my six days I heard bird sounds in the morning, small single engine airplanes, one car on the road at the bottom of the hill, and one car pull up to the house, but when the boiler kicked in, I couldn't hear much else. I did hear people walking around upstairs, and sometimes understand what they were saying.
My clearest recollection of hearing sounds from upstairs was when someone stopped by to get whipped. I could hear the impact of the whip followed by the "victim" counting his strokes. During my stay Harold and Bob commented about visitors going hundreds of miles out of their way to stop by the MCF to get whipped.
My first night in the cell, my legs were shackled, the shackles were chained to the cell bars, and my hands were cuffed in front of me. As I lay down with my head at the back of the cell a speaker announced that all prisoners at MCF would sleep with their head toward the bars. I turned around.
The lights went out. Not much to do but lie there in the dark. I hear Bob walking around upstairs for a while. I start to sort out house noises. I don't sleep much the first night. Actually I don't sleep much, my entire stay.