Yelp.com, the website for user-generated reviews of restaurants and other businesses, now features prison reviews, written by inmates and others who are familiar with U.S. correctional facilities.
One inmate described the staff at New York State's Sing Sing Correctional facility as the "most unprofessional in the world and the rudest."
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New York City's Rikers Island, which holds local offenders who are awaiting trial, did not receive positive feedback either.
"If the roaches and rats don't mess with you the correctional officers will," one inmate wrote.
Another Rikers Island reviewer offered a piece of advice to fellow inmates
"Things you MUST remember: No matter what religion you (really) are/aren't, say you're 'Jewish," the user wrote. "Why? Because, you'll get a box of Matzoh ('crackers, as some call it), a bottle of grape juice (both weekly) and, you'll get a trip to meet the Rabbi (A VERY nice man who lets you use his phone)."
Attorneys have also taken to Yelp's prison review boards, to read what critics are saying and write reviews themselves.
Southern California Defense Attorney Robert Miller told the Washington Post he has reviewed three correctional facilities on Yelp
"I started reviewing because I needed something to kill time while I waited to see clients," said Miller, who has been a private defense lawyer in Southern California for the last 18 years. "But I think the reviews are actually helpful for bail bondsmen, attorneys, family members — a lot of people, actually."
Miller found that one facility was filled with "kind of very firmly rude staff," while another was "average" with inexperienced and power-hungry officers, the Washington Post reported. Most recently, he critiqued Orange County, Calif.'s Theo Lacy jail in January, praising the facility for its cleanliness and "very nice" deputies.
So what's an example of a "helpful" review?
"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," one inmate wrote of Arlington County Detention Facility in Virginia, "Yes, you heard right, they have juice boxes! . . . So if you’re going to get arrested, do it in Arlington County."
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