“I Reviewed Jail on Yelp Because I Couldn’t Afford a Therapist”: The Marshall Project

“I Reviewed Jail on Yelp Because I Couldn’t Afford a Therapist”: The Marshall Project September 9, 2015

with many and varied windows into the human condition:

…User-review sites have become an unlikely destination for raw, informative accounts of Americans’ everyday interactions with our criminal justice system. Yelp declined to provide the number of prison and jail reviews on its site, but dozens of correctional facilities are filed under “Public Services & Government” alongside DMVs and post offices. Search for your local prison or jail and chances are that Google reviews will pop up alongside more traditional hits. (Even TripAdvisor once hosted a lively debate about whether a tourist visit to Sing Sing Correctional Facility or Rikers Island would be ethical, if such a thing were allowed.)

“We’re in this space where having an opinion is rewarded,” says Reuben Jonathan Miller, a University of Michigan sociologist. Pair the “democratization of expertise” with the ubiquity of the criminal justice system in the last two decades, says Miller, and you get people like Jason A. taking to the internet to share their experiences in lockup.

“When I would shower, I would take my clothes and wash them, people thought it was funny, but it was really a way for me not to get my own clothes robbed being there was no jump suits,” he wrote in a 1-star review of Rikers. “Food tasted like wet noodles and grill gristle…. I later learned to get a muslim halal card, and a jewish card, and know the kitchen staff to see which card would get me a better meal for the day.”

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