“For the only jail I’ve been to, I guess it’s okay. I slept well and wasn’t disturbed. The holding cell I was confined to had a phone and I was able to make unlimited phone calls all night. I tried to talk to people; one girl cried a lot. The bathroom wasn’t awful. The food sucked, but I ate it because I was suffering from a nasty hangover.” That’s Amanda G. of San Diego Yelping about Las Colinas Detention Center, which she rated “three stars.”
Yes, Yelping has extended beyond restaurant reviews to include emergency rooms, mortuaries, and prisons.
Las Colinas, which occupies 45 acres off Cottonwood Avenue in Santee, is the San Diego County sheriff’s hoosegow for women. Opened in 2014, the prison replaced the facility built in 1967. It operates under the aegis of the department’s Detention Bureau and, in sheriff-speak, “serves as the primary point of intake for women prisoners in San Diego County.”
Curious about Las Colinas’ three hots and a cot but unwilling or ineligible to visit? Yelp can help.
According to Wikipedia, Yelp has accumulated some 71-million-plus reviews and the site has emerged as the leader in the personalized consumer take, whether breathless encomium or no-holds-barred venting. And venting, along with a good dose of the confessional, is what you’ll find in the reviews that local women have penned about San Diego’s finest (and only) women-only pen.
Michelle S. of Oceanside, who gave Las Colinas three stars, wrote, “I went only into the drunk tank for less then [sic] a day. My offense was minor. It was years ago so my memory is a little shady. I remember it being crowded but no problem with other detainees, most were pretty friendly. Officers were all respectful and didn’t hassle me. I had to review it just because I was shocked it even had a...place on here!”
As of mid-April 2015, 12 Yelpers have weighed in on Las Colinas. Reviews are mixed, not uniformly bad, maybe no worse than those garnered by a mediocre taco shop or a low-rent hair salon.
“Meh. I’ve experienced better” is expressed in Yelp parlance by two stars, which is how Kathalyn N. rated her stint. “Let’s just say that I’ve had better staycations in San Diego. For having such a low Yelp rating--I was surprised at how busy this place was. I honestly had to wait 8 hours to get a ‘room’. 8 HOURS! And the ‘waiting room’ was crowded, the benches were very uncomfortable, the clientele was very very shady, and the restroom area needed some serious attention....
“Now for the food!” [Over the course of two days, this detainee sampled breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare.]
“Bologna and cheese sandwich--definitely the worst bologna sandwich I’ve ever had, which is strange to me because aren’t they all just baaaad? The weird thing...every sandwich was made with at least one heel... I mean, how is it possible that there are that many bread ends floating around that place? They must make mini loafs so the bread middle-to-heel ratio is 50/50.”
For some Yelpers, a stint at San Diego County’s distaff-only slammer has proven a sort of experiential turning point. “Yay! I’m a fan” is how Yelp defines four stars, which is what Tori W. of San Diego assigned to the facility where she landed after a bar fight.
“So on my 21st birthday my friends took me to Sin Nightclub.... I got so $hit faced, well this stupid ho came up and started flirting with my boyfriend, grabbing his junk and trying to kiss him. So I slapped the biotch, and threw my Red Bull and vod on her. A few hits in, she was all crying and screaming... then the cops showed up. They zipped tied me and took me to Las Colinas. That’s where I got my first tattoo at... and I’ve been addicted to them ever since. I just hope I never go back... I’d rather go to Vista instead.”
Las Colinas has its Yelp defenders. Karyn M. of San Diego, whose Yelp symbol is a pink-and-black pistol, wrote a review that included a lengthy confessional as well as barbs aimed at fellow reviewers: “For those who gave it one star... It is a detention facility. It is not a country club. It should be a shitty experience so that you never ever return. I was able to get solitary (I will spare details) because I knew I did not want to be in general population wearing jail garb. As it turned out, I was stripped and made to wear a foam dress. Jail is humiliating and awful. Guess what? If you are in jail or a detention center, sorry but you do not deserve nice service okay?”
Justine H. of San Diego exults, “Wow!!!!!! After I watched both seasons of Orange is the New Black, I was looking forward to meeting my jail wife and engaging in hot lesbian sex! Man, was I wrong!!!! I was thrown in here for 12 hours in October 2014. It was awful!!!!!”
On the other hand, Ruth L. San Diego praises the “...gourmet lasagna,” writing, “I would have given 3 stars if it wasn’t so cold in there. But an upgrade from the last time I visited when my cell mate had a obvious bowel issue. Thumbs up guys!”
Apart from downing county victuals, how do Las Colinas short-timers pass the time? According to Justine H., it’s an ideal opportunity to socialize. “There is one television in here. I think I remember that it was on Spike or AMC, but the best way to entertain yourself is to eavesdrop on phone calls and make new friends. I made a lot of new girl friends. They were really intense and I felt super out of place because they were in for soliciting, drugs, DUI, etc. while I was in there for failure to appear in court. Their stories were way cooler than mine.”
“Old Gregg F” of San Diego is a bit less voluble:
“1) Cracky tweakers everywhere
“2) Unattractive staff
“3) Uncomfortable seating
“4) Poor customer service
“5) Bland food
“Definitely not coming back....”
Kathalyn N. strikes a tone of ambivalent reminiscence. “Looking back, I would compare my stay at Las Colinas to Summer Camp. The worst summer camp ever... with even worse food. And really bad beds. And some scary people. And surprising clean, semi private showers and bathrooms. I wish I would have gotten to try those desserts.”
Reviews, though shortened, have been minimally edited. Errors in grammar, syntax, and punctuation have not been corrected.