Fletcher Bach and I recently discovered that there are reviews of prisons on Yelp. Some of these reviews are snarky one-liners -for example, one yelper describes Rikers Island as a “great island getaway right in my own backyard”. Other reviews appear to be honest first person accounts. Some people review what it’s like to visit the prison; others describe their experiences as inmates.
The reviews provide valuable first-hand insight into the workings of the prison system, but, we wondered, do prison administrators get the opportunity to read them? Do prison administrators even know their institutions are being reviewed on Yelp?
So, we came up with a helpful automated solution to ensure that prison administrators receive the feedback they may not know they are getting: a Yelp prison review faxbot. It’s a small python program that constantly monitors Yelp for reviews of prisons. Whenever the script finds a new review it automatically sends a fax to that prison with the Yelp star rating and content of the new review. Today we sent out 12 faxes, just to get things started.
At the moment we are monitoring the following prison reviews, these being the prisons we’ve found that have both Yelp reviews and fax numbers:
- Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn
- United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth
- Metropolitan Detention Center, Los Angeles
- Metropolitan Correctional Center, Chicago
- Sing Sing Correctional Facility
- Correctional Institution D Ray James
- Federal Correctional Facility. Dublin
- Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution
- Honolulu Federal Detention Center
- Philadelphia Federal Detention Center
- Federal Correctional Institution Tallahassee
- Correctional Institution, Willacy County
We’ll be growing this list – feel free to get in touch if you find anything else to add in. We’re also thinking of switching to physical mail rather than fax.