Last night I caught Stephen Colbert's segment on the burgeoning phenomenon of Yelp prison reviews. Yes, Yelp prison reviews. According to a trend piece in Sunday's Washington Post, lawyers, inmates, and family memembers are actively reviewing correctional facilities on Yelp. Some are predictably sad, some are hysterical. A private defense lawyer in Southern California told the Washington Post, “I started reviewing because I needed something to kill time while I waited to see clients. But I think the reviews are actually helpful for bail bondsmen, attorneys, family members — a lot of people, actually.” That lawyer tells The Post he's visited five prisons and 17 jails in his lifetime. Thus, it makes sense for people who frequent prisons for whatever reason -- lawyers, bondsmen, families, uhhhh---criminals -- to review the facility on Yelp in the same way they would a local restaurant or hotel. Some money quotes from prisons in the Washington D.C. region, where six incarceration facilities have earned reviews, including two in 2013:
“Jail food may get a bad rap . . . but jail EMPLOYEE food is off the chain,” wrote one woman of a local jail cafeteria, where $1.50 apparently buys a plate of chicken, green beans, wheat bread, dessert and fresh, not instant, mashed potatoes.
“At no time did the officer violate any of my constitutional privileges and even gave me a juice box after I said I was thirsty,” reads another review, this one of the Arlington County Detention Facility. “Yes, you heard right, they have juice boxes! . . . So if you’re going to get arrested, do it in Arlington County.”
Hear that, NoVa residents? Nothing like going to the clink in your county. Meanwhile, in LA they take the allegations that end up on Yelp about a facility very seriously. Via WaPo:
“Every allegation we get, we investigate,” said Stephen Whitmore, spokesman for Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. He notes that the jail has also its share of four- and five-star reviews. “But this Yelp phenomenon I find curious,” Whitmore said. “Jail isn’t a restaurant. It isn’t seeing a movie. You’re doing time for committing a crime.”
Stephen Colbert had a hilarious take on this. Yes, this is really a thing. Isn't the Internet great?
Since the article has come out, the Internet has revealed quite a few of these Yelp prison reviews. Buzzfeed currated a list of some of the best finds. Here are some of my favorites:
And another one from the infamous California prison:
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