Inmates Now Reviewing Prisons on Yelp

The staff at Sing Sing are the "most unprofessional staff in the world and the rudest." The chocolate milk at the Tombs is "chalky." At Rikers, "If the roaches & rats don't mess with you the CO's [correctional officers] will." Queens Central Booking is "run smoother than the other central bookings throughout the greater New York."

Like the reviewers of restaurants, gyms, and nail salons before them, prisoners and attorneys now have a forum to air their opinions of America's correctional facilities. Across the country, reviewers are offering testimonials, tips, and complaints.

One Rikers reviewer offered advice to new inmates on how to make the best of the experience:

"Things you MUST remember: No matter what religion you (really) are/aren't, say you're 'Jewish.'
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).
2nd thing to remember is say you've a medical condition, in which you NEED to have 'double portions.'
Trust me on this. Otherwise - you'll really starve."

But other, more serious allegations are also made. The same reviewer declared of Manhattan Correctional Facility, "it's really best to have as little interaction with the CO's as possible. 'Cos, if you DO piss 'em off.... Your paperwork CAN 'disappear.' Seen it happen."

In other states, attorneys have taken to Yelp to complain about prison procedures that delay or prevent them from seeing clients. Although it's not clear what impact these reviews have, a spokesperson in Los Angeles County told the Washington Post that the Sheriff's office investigates every allegation.

And it may be the only outlet prisoners have. As the Post points out, a 1996 law called the Prison Litigation Reform Act prevents inmates from suing until administrative procedures are exhausted. Even then, only limited prison policy changes are permitted.

[via, photo via Getty]