Prison Inmates Take To Yelp To Air Grievances

Arizona State Penitentiary inmatesPrisoners line up for lunch at Arizona State Prison in Florence, Ariz.

Prisoners frustrated with ineffective grievance systems in detention facilities are now using Yelp — better known for its reviews of restaurants and other local businesses — to air complaints and comment on prison conditions, both good and bad.

And some law enforcement officials are taking note — a spokesman for the Los Angeles County sheriff told The Washington Post that they investigate every allegation they see on Yelp.

Prisoners who are afraid that filing grievances will lead to retaliation from staff sometimes use Yelp to report abuse.

Jack Beck, director of the Prison Visiting Project for the Correctional Association of New York, told the Post that his group teaches inmates that “inside of prison … the rule of law is not effective. There is no redress … Most people survive by keeping their heads down.”

The prison reviews on Yelp aren’t verified, so it’s hard to tell what’s legitimate. 

Some of the allegations are serious, like this one about the Clark County Detention centre in Las Vegas: 


Some of the reviews are a bit more odd, like this one taking the form of poetry:


Bloomberg Businessweek points out that this might be indicative of a “culture of reviewing” that’s becoming increasingly prevalent. Everyone’s a critic — even prisoners.

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