Bored inmates are now reviewing prisons on Yelp.
Because they have “few other outlets for self-expression” according to MSN, incarcerated persons are turning to the consumer review site Yelp to share their thoughts on this country’s penal institutions. So far, Yelp has refused to comment on the strange trend, but they’re not going to do anything to shut it down, either.
They say that as long as the business has a physical address and they follow the guidelines, inmates may review away.
Now that that’s out of the way, Yelp includes positive and negative reviews of various prisons across the United States, but an exact number is hard to determine since the site doesn’t dole out statistics by business type.
Still, funny reviews have included quotes like “Jail food may get a bad rap … but jail EMPLOYEE food is off the chain” and “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.”
Even a few lawyers are observing the trend. Robert Miller has visited five prisons in his lifetime, and admits that he started reviewing them on Yelp as a way to pass the time as he waited to talk with clients.
Of the five, he rated Theo Lacy jail in Orange County, California the highest due to its cleanliness, urban setting and “very nice” deputies. He awarded Theo Lacy jail a five out of five stars.
Though Miller started reviewing prisons as a joke, he admits that the practice can be useful. “I think the reviews are actually helpful for bail bondsmen, attorneys, family members — a lot of people, actually,” he said.
David Fathi, director of the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, says that even negative prison reviews could end up being helpful in exposing mistreatment and abuse behind the walls of certain closed institutions. The ACLU received hundreds of prison complaints each month, but very few make it to court.
“Prisons and jails are closed institutions, and the lack of outside scrutiny and oversight sometimes facilitates mistreatment and abuse,” he said. “So anything that increases public awareness of prison conditions is a positive thing.”
What do you think of inmates reviewing prisons on Yelp? Funny, strange, sad, surprisingly useful? Sound off!
[Image via: Mopic, Shutterstock.com]