The Country’s Best Bars — Inmates Review Prisons On Yelp

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Prison inmates are giving the phrase “best bars” new meaning by reviewing their court-mandated living quarters on the review site Yelp.

The Washington Post has the back stories on some of the funnier ones:

“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 another review, this one 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.”

(This one wasn’t real — there were no juice boxes.) Jokes aside, some of the reviews detail abuse within the system:

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. Other reviews of the jail mention rat infestations, violence and racial tensions.

Prisoners have turned to other social media sites to share their experiences behind bars as well. reddit hosts a number of AMA (Ask Me Anything) interviews with prison guards, prison newbiesex-cons, and others within the prison system. On Quora, inmate Kenyatta Leal won a 2013 Shorty Award for his personal essay on how he felt on his first day of a lifetime sentence at RJ Donovan Prison.

Lawyer Robert Miller told the Washington Post that Yelp’s review forum, in this case, helps “elevate consciousness of the problems and brings transparency and oversight to a system that isn’t used to being transparent. That’s a very valuable tool.”

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