“Baker’s Dozen” Orange Is the New Black: Orange Black or Bleak: S7 E8 (Netflix)

Orange, Black, or Bleak S7 E8: “Baker’s Dozen”

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Several years ago, I decided to do a deep-dive into the Netflix show Orange Is The New Black to help explain things that folks watching the show who don’t have a background including incarceration might not catch. Seven seasons later, I am still rolling.

I am not a woman, which is a huge weakness of the coverage. I do consult with friends who did time in women’s facilities and try to ensure accuracy.

I did time in a state and not a federal facility, another huge weakness.  I try to consult with friends who did time in federal facilities and try to ensure accuracy.

If you haven’t been listening to the Decarceration Nation Podcast my guest last week was Somil Trivedi, a Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU, and we discussed the recently concluded Supreme Court Term.

Also, apologies, I missed something obvious last week, sorry for the sloppiness.

If you have not watched OITNB before *Spoiler Alert*

5. “Some History There?”

If you are wondering why Aleida is back at Litchfield, my guess is that she was still on federal supervision and while she might also be facing new state charges, she would also be returned to finish out her federal sentence (her supervision was revoked). 

This, of course, begs the question of how Hopper could possibly be dating her. But, okay, we have to suspend some disbelief.

This will likely cause huge problems for Daya who is a barely competent drug boss. Aleida is a real live hustler and there is no way Daya will be able to maintain the illusion that she is in charge or a boss. In fact, Aleida’s first comment to Daya’s crew is to come in and disrespect her (not good, and Aleida would know this). 

At the same time, Aleida is not wrong about Daya needing to get clean. 

Anyway, Copeland is right, not to say these kinds of relationships don’t happen between correctional officers and incarcerated people (at least I have heard that they do). And of course, it is totally accurate that most contraband comes into prisons through correctional officers (not the only vector but the major vector). I dunno, I guess it is not as crazy as some of the things that happen on this show.

4. “You A Top Or Bottom?”

Nothing about Piper’s parole officer suggested to me that she would be okay with Piper going on a weekend hunting trip out in the woods with the girls.

Don’t get me wrong, this whole arc gets confused by the fact that federal supervision is different than parole and that the officer on the show represents as a traditional parole officer. However, if she is under the supervision of a traditional parole officer, any trip like this would have to be cleared by Piper with her parole officer.

Being on parole is not like being free except when you meet your officer. For instance, in my area, people have to literally submit every single place they want to go outside of their house in advance. If someone is found in a place that they did not submit in advance, it can mean you get violated and returned to prison or jail. 

As I have mentioned before, when I was on parole I had to be in my house all but five pre-determined hours a day Monday through Friday unless I was working. In addition, I was not allowed to be out of my house at all on the weekends (unless I was working). Parole isn’t much like freedom. You don’t get to go do sister bonding and you certainly do not get to use weapons.

True story, if you are even in a car or a house with someone else who has a firearm when you are on parole in Michigan it is a mandatory four-year new felony charge. I have no idea what the penalty for using a bow is, but I suspect the use of any weapon is a serious no-no.

I agree with Piper when she said you have to live your incarceration publicly. One of the most important lessons I learned from my own recover was that you are “only as sick as your secrets.” Living in shame makes nothing better and living in lies makes nothing better. Honestly, I grew tired of being around people who constantly expected me to hide who I was. We are what we are and, to remain healthy, we have to live who we are out loud.

Also, it is frustratingly easy at the Litchfield max facility for correctional officers to just disappear into people’s cells (Vause and McCullough), believe it or not, correctional officers have to do rounds and there are cameras and logbooks and usually another officer. Also, if an officer is supposed to be tossing a cell, they don’t do it in the dark with the cell door closed (as a general rule).

That said, it does happen from what I have heard, but I suspect it is not this blatant and haphazard.

Good Little Mermaid joke by Vause though.

3. “Like A Low-Rent Ricky Jay”

In case you were wondering, Ricky Jay was one of the best card magicians in the world and, to some extent, the last of the great card manipulators. You may have seen him in David Mamet movies like “House of Games,” and he was the narrator for the Paul Thomas Anderson movie “Magnolia.” He did a legendary one-man show on Broadway that later became an HBO special (which is hard to find now). 

There is a mythology around a particular art of card cheating, the ability to center-deal cards, that Ricky Jay was one of the last people alive who had learned the secret of. 

Anyway, he is, as Linda mentioned, currently dead (Rest In Peace).

Side note. One of the consistent arguments put forth by Orange Is the New Black is that private prisons skimp on programs. If you read Lauren Brooke Eisen’s book “Inside Private Prisons,” you will learn that while privates are generally worse for security they are better for programming. 

I know it is a popular thing to oppose private prisons, but it is not like public prisons are some kind of Nirvana. If we closed private prisons tomorrow, all the people incarcerated in those prisons would simply be transferred to public facilities. Getting rid of private prisons is not a solution to mass incarceration. 

In addition, about eight percent of people incarcerated in the United States are housed in private prisons. Again, if we closed private prisons tomorrow, it would not significantly impact our mass incarceration problem.

Now, that said, I would be in favor of closing private prisons (if for no other reason than I want an end to ICE facilities). I am not a supporter of private facilities I just think that we need to be honest about the impact of closing private facilities.

2. “The Mayor of New Cluck City”

I don’t have too much to say here but:

  1. It seemed pretty obvious that starting a pet therapy class around chickens would result in the return of Litchfield’s magic chicken. Welcome back magic chicken!

  2. Great that Lolly and Suzanne have been paired up

  3. Great that Susanne is the Mayor of “New Cluck City”

Always nice to have Suzanne in a good place, I was worried that this was going to go a very different direction once she realized her incarceration was not a form of justice.

1. “I’m Your Tutor”

Okay, on the one hand, I am glad Taystee has found a new reason for living and I am also really glad that she is helping Doggett with her epilepsy. But I have a sneaky suspicion that the “death-dose” that Taystee hid behind the picture frame is going to come back to haunt us soon.

I hope that I am wrong.

Unlocking The Gates

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New recaps will come out once a week (usually on Sunday mornings).

Lots has happened since last season, I am now a policy analyst at Safe and Just Michigan, a consultant with #cut50, and still the host of a podcast. I am still a member of a Criminal Justice Reform organization called Nation Outside (The Voice of the Formerly Incarcerated) but I am not speaking for Nation Outside in any official capacity.

Leave comments, let us know what you thought! We will answer any questions you have (that are civil).