Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lawyer Rates Jails & Prisons on Yelp

5 star hotels are generally recognized for their luxurious accommodations, excellent room service and superior service. So what does a 5 star jail look like?
Prison Cells

According to lawyer, Robert Miller, the Theo Lacy jail in Orange County, California is worthy of a coveted 5 star Yelp review for being "the newest, and thus the cleanest and best organized of all the jail facilities in the County of Orange" as well as having deputies who are nice and friendly to lawyers and other professionals. Lawyers are not the only ones who have been rating correctional facilities, inmates have taken to Yelp to voice concerns (ranging from rodent and roach problems to riots and guard/inmate abuse) and also to make positive comments. One reviewer who stayed at Geiger Corrections in Spokane gave the facility a 4 star review praising Taco Mondays, pleasant guards and being able to talk to female prisoners (he did subtract 1 star for "loss of personal freedom").

One does not usually have a choice in which facility they are placed, so what purpose do the Yelp reviews serve? According to the Washington Post, Yelp reviews of correctional facilities have caused a bit of controversy. While on one hand, one must recognize that visiting a jail is not the same thing as visiting a restaurant or a movie theater (pointed out by a spokesman for the Los Angeles Country Sheriff); on the other hand, increasing awareness of mistreatment and poor conditions in prisons and jails is recognized as "a positive thing" by the director of the National Prison Project of the ACLU.

The veracity of the Yelp reviews have been questioned but it is worth noting that while the occupants at Theo Lacy jail might be in one of the highest reviewed jails in California, the King County jail here in Seattle has the lowest possible Yelp rating (1 star) by all of its reviewers.

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