Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Prison Yelp Reviews: 5 Do's and Don'ts

Been to jail or prison lately? How would you rate your experience behind bars?

Prison Yelp reviews are becoming more popular, and reading them can be a guilty pleasure, as shown recently on "The Colbert Report." Many reviewers complain about (or laud) the quality of the food, housing, and treatment by guards, but there are also some potentially incriminating statements being posted as well.

If you're planning on writing a Yelp review about a prison or detention center, you may want to consider these do's and don'ts:

1. Do Avoid Using Personal Details.

Yelp does not allow you the option to post completely anonymously. However, you can create a profile with a fake name.

Yelp's Terms of Service allow you to use a pseudonym such as:

  • Ambrosia B. Sweetness
  • Bonnie N. Clyde
  • Anita Lawyer
  • George Glass

Just remember not to slip up and identify yourself by giving away personal details in your posts.

2. Don't Accuse or Exaggerate.

There is a fine line between expressing your opinion and posting accusations that may get you sued for defamation.

Companies have been mildly successful in suing folks who have posted outright lies or exaggerations on Yelp. So instead of saying that prison food was "poison," consider rephrasing it: perhaps something along the lines of "the worst food-like chunks you've ever tasted."

3. Do Mention Cramped Conditions.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that California's prison system was so jam-packed that 22 of the state's prisons violated the Eighth Amendment's bar to cruel and unusual punishment.

If you experienced similar overcrowding, it may actually help future class action suits to say something about it, if only on Yelp.

4. Don't Confess to Crimes.

This might just be common sense, but if you brag about committing crimes online, there's a good chance you'll be caught.

The Internet is not a magical pocket dimension where the police dare not tread; they're very aware of Yelp pages, and they will not hesitate to use statements made online against you.

5. Do Be Brief.

No one likes reading a post that drags on forever, right?

Related Resources: