“Yelp Reviews of some of Oregon’s Prisons,” by Matt Kolbet

Jul 26th, 2017 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Oregon State Penitentiary, Salem.

–This place is showing its age. I know they moved it from Portland in 1866, but seriously…the concrete walls are under 15 ft. high. Both sad and ridiculous. On the plus side, it didn’t take as long to get served as when I went to Social Cube in downtown Portland. The bartender there totally ignored me. Of course, that’s part of how I ended up here. Three stars.

–Having visited once, I WILL NOT BE COMING BACK!!! Anonymous.

–As GQ pointed out in 2016, a bad Yelp review can be a “death knell” for a business. That might be good news for my buddy Randy, unless we get a governor who overturns the current moratorium on capital punishment. One star for the State Pen.

–Two stars. Too Crowded. I’m surprised anyone goes there anymore. Tom H.


Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, Wilsonville.

–OK, I get it. A “woman’s” facility. Still not as sexist as cover charges for males only (looking at you, Southern Splash). Three stars.

–Do they take reservations? Couldn’t find that info on their website. Went to check it IRL and the whole thing was a big hassle! Three stars. Marie.

–No street parking nearby. What a pain. Other than that, happy with the garden and job training. Don’t forget to check out second floor. Four stars. Karen B.

–Ended up here when my boyfriend went back to dealing drugs. Guilt by association, and he gave cops my name. Is there a Yelp for people? Name withheld.


Two Rivers Correctional Institution, Umatilla

–Wrote my congressman about being stuck here. No reply. Trying yelp. Two stars.

–My imagination is not strong enough to undress the guards with my eyes. Maybe I shouldn’t bother.

–Could use more vegan options. Lost my freedom and my appetite. One star. Mark J.

–Ugh. There is like nothing to do in Umatilla, and with Gilroy Food nearby, place always smells like onions. Given the choice, find somewhere else. Two stars. Harrison P.

–Meh. Then again, don’t know where I’d go when if this place burns down.


South Fork Forest Camp, Tillamook

–Since this is a satellite to the Columbia River C.I., maybe I should take everything with a grain of salt (like an extension campus for a university)…BUT feels like things could be labeled more clearly. Poor customer service. One guy couldn’t direct me to any mushrooms, or tell the difference between Douglas fir and hemlock. Two stars. Doug F.

–Too selective. They don’t use bouncers, but if you fall into the arson/assault group (same for animal abuse and sex crimes), don’t bother trying to get in. One star. Randy.

–Spent the day trapping animals and treating forest for insects. Wonder what’s for dinner. Five stars all the way! (at least until I get out).


Matt Kolbet teaches and writes in Oregon. His most recent novel is Lunar Year.

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