The popular consumer reviews site Yelp now has helpful testimonials on incarceration facilities from lawyers, inmates and visitors.
Lawyer Robert Miller told The Washington Post he thought writing reviews on prisons and jails he visits would be "helpful for bail bondsmen, attorneys, family members — a lot of people, actually.”
“Jail food may get a bad rap . . . but jail EMPLOYEE food is off the chain,” wrote one woman of a Washington-area jail cafeteria, where $1.50 reportedly buys a plate of chicken, green beans, wheat bread, dessert and real 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 a review 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.”
Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur told The Post that the facility has neither juice boxes nor a range of other things described in the review.
But not all the reviews are about the food. Lawyers from California and Illinois have complained about security procedures that stop them from seeing clients.
In June 2012, a reviewer alleged that five guards at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles beat him for no reason and laughed about it afterward. A woman in Austin alleged that workers in a local jail threatened her with bolt-cutters and tied her to a chair for hours.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office said they investigate any allegation that comes through Yelp, and even noted they had four- and five-star reviews.