Monday, March 3, 2014

Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black is an original netflix series based on the memoir Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison a true story written by Piper Kerman which tells of her experiences in a minimum security woman's prison. Piper is a yuppie from NYC who lives with her fiancé (Jason Biggs) and trying to get an artisanal soap business off the ground. However, she used to be a lesbian and dated an international drug smuggler for whom she transferred cash suitcases for. That catches up with Piper and she ends up with a 15 month sentence in a federal prison where coincidentally her drug-smuggling ex, is also doing time.


While in prison Piper practices yoga which apparently is offered in some prisons as research has found that prisoners who took yoga "experienced less stress and reported more positive moods." The show also show relationships between guards and inmates which reminded me of last's year scandal in a Baltimore jail where one male inmate impregnated four guards!

When Piper first arrives at the prison the warden tells her she doesn't have to worry about getting into fights because the women get back at each other through gossip. What's really interesting about this show is that there's about 15 regular characters and in every episode we get a small glimpse into their lives before they came to prison and what put them there. For the most part these women are non-violent criminals, and did one bad thing just because of a poor choice of associates or just plain bad luck.

The inmates self-segregate by race with an additional category for the "golden girls".  I did a little research on race in prison and found this info:
So what's driving the huge increase in the white female incarceration rate? The Sentencing Project finds that about half the increase is accounted for by an increase in women in prison for property crimes, such as theft, burglary, robbery, etc. About a quarter is attributed to an increase in women in prison for violent crimes, and another quarter to an increase in women in prison for drug crimes. Meanwhile, almost all of the decline in the black female incarceration rate is accounted for by a huge decline in women in prison for drug crimes:
Here's an interesting article on women who have been "rotting" in prison for decades because they were convicted solely on an informant's testimony. In drug cases, a person can get a reduced sentence if they rat someone else out. Many of these women claim to be completely innocent.

I don't want to give too much away about this show but if you liked the TV series Prison Break, you'll love this show! Julia Hough liked the show so much her group of friends dressed up as the cast for Halloween. Season 2 of Orange is the New Black is released June 6!


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