Khan vs. Che: Orange Is the New Black S4 E9 “Turn Table Turn” (Netflix)

Orange, Black, or Bleak S4 E9: “Turn Table Turn”

As a formerly incarcerated person, I have been engaged in a deep-dive into the Netflix show Orange Is The New Black to help explain some of the things that folks watching the show without a felony background might not catch (a really deep dive, as this is my 51st recap).

If you have not seen all of my recaps, here is a link to the complete guide.

So, I have been pushing the Dignity For Incarcerated Women Act here for months, turns out Van Jones organization Cut 50 is about to start state campaigns modeled after the Federal legislation all over the country. So, be on the lookout for the legislation in your own State (coming soon).

I also have a big surprise this week (see below).

If you have not watched OITNB before *Spoiler Alert*

Some Things About Season 4 Episode 9 “Turn Table Turn”



OITNB S4 E9 “Turn Table Turn” was about: 

* Blanca’s backstory. She was working as a caregiver for a really verbally abusive and unrealistic lady without the use of her legs, fell for the gardener Diablo who was summarily fired by the old lady (for taking up too much of Blanca’s time). Blanca intentionally wakes the old lady up having loud sex with Diablo in the old ladies bedroom and glares definitely right at her throughout.

After the incident, the old woman seems terrified of Blanca and becomes totally compliant. This lets us know that Blanca isn’t one to be intimidated or bullied. Back at Litchfield, she launches a scheme to always smell bad so that the CO’s either choose not to frisk her or they have to frisk her at some discomfort. CO Stratman gives her an ultimatum insisting that she shower or face the consequences.

Blanca refuses, so he orders her to stand on one of the cafeteria tables and not sit down or leave until she agrees to bathe regularly again. The implication is that Blanca will not easily be moved.

* The fallout from the photo of Cindy and Judy King kissing. They claim that they had nothing to do with the photo getting out but Caputo doesn’t believe them. He ends up telling them both that they better be spending all of their time together or they will be in trouble (a very strange subplot, the administration is threatening to punish them if they aren’t romantic?).

In addition, because Cindy and Judy King are spending so much time together in Judy’s room, Yoga Jones starts to worry that they will steal all the swag that they got from Caputo. So, I guess that means Yoga Jones has gone from full-on anti-materialist all the way to materialist over a soda water maker and some food privileges. Okay?

* Sister Ingalls working to get herself thrown into SHU (Solitary) so that she can get proof that Sophia is being kept locked in solitary. The prison isn’t admitting that they have Sophia and because MCC is a private company, they aren’t subject to Freedom of Information Requests (as I mentioned last week, this is a real thing, private prison companies are often exempt from FOIA requirements).

Anyway, Sister Ingalls ends up punching Goria in the mouth in front of the entire cafeteria and gets herself sent to SHU. The scene where she is locked-in is exactly how it works. You have nothing, you are all alone, and you have nothing to do. It is intellectual and physical torture (you can’t see the sky or exercise etc.).

* Doggett telling Boo that she is having second thoughts about freezing out Donuts. Boo does not respond charitably, she says that if Doggett goes back to being nice to Donuts she will no longer be her friend. As a result, Doggett starts sitting with the Nazi's and the meth-heads again instead of with Boo.

* Nicky struggling with addiction. Red comes to talk to her and instead of lecturing her starts crying and begging for Nicky’s forgiveness for failing her and for failing Tricia (S1). Nicky is so moved that she comes to Red later and tells her she is ready to try to get clean again.

* Maritza setting the CO’s on Maria’s cousin (who has been picking up the panties). Maria confronts her and Maritza stands up for herself (ultimately telling Maria that she will accept a beat down but will not go back to running panties. Maria relents).

Unfortunately, CO Humps figured out Maritza’s game and he starts to reveal himself as a really sick human being. He takes Maritza into the house the prison provided for the CO”s, puts a gun to her head,  and makes her choice to either eat a baby mouse or 10 flies (he overhead Maritza and Flaca joking about this scenario earlier in the cafeteria).

In other words, it turns out that CO Humphreys is a dangerous sadist.

* Aleida trying to deal with the fact that she will be released in just a few days and that she will be leaving her daughter Daya behind. She makes Gloria promise to look after Daya and make sure that she gets into no trouble.

* Piper and Vause debating over whether they should give CO Baley a hand job in order to get burgers from their favorite burger place (no seriously, this is how little imagination they have left for Piper and Vause...It was only a week ago Piper was being branded and now, domestic bliss again.

 * Luschek rounding up all of the cell phones in Litchfield. He does a good job and Piscatella insults him for it (because Piscatella is a really awful human being).

Decarceration Nation

Sorry to interrupt the flow, but I have an announcement.

Have you ever wondered what I sound like? Well, this is your chance to find out.

As promised, the first episode of my criminal justice podcast “Decarceration Nation” is out.

I have wanted to do this for a very long time and I was very happy with the first episode (we did it in one take).

Yes, I totally agree that it is too long (I promise to fix that going forward).

Yes, it needed intro music (I just got some gifted to me by my friends in the band Odonis Odonis, so there will be intro music going forward).

But it would mean a TON to me if all of you checked it out and gave it a thumbs up (especially on iTunes where they really care about those kinds of things).

I would also love to answer any of your questions (my plan is to do supplementary youtube recordings every week where I answer people’s questions).

You know by now how passionate I am about discussing these issues, I hope you will support me in this new venture (and that you will find it informative and interesting). Thanks in advance!

It is also available on iTunes and on Stitcher so far, and two more episodes will be up by next Tuesday (unless I screw something up, which is always quite possible).

Officer Cruelty

Maritza and Blanca are both facing down brutal CO cruelties at the same time that Sophia remains in long-term solitary confinement.

What is being highlighted here is the truth of the old adage “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Correctional Officers in many ways have the power of life and death over inmates and even the professional and responsible CO’s generally protect each other (certainly this is true when it comes down to having to choose between protecting an inmate and protecting a CO).

I remember seeing officers running businesses with prisoners as the customers, gambling with inmates right in front of supervisors, calling out inmates crimes on the yard (depending on the crimes, this can cause violence), and sharing information with inmates on who was snitching.

As I have mentioned before, I met guards who were incredibly racist and others who seemed authentically sadistic and even sociopathic.

I was approached by two shady guards who saw that I got Investor’s Business Daily and they started to press me for investing advice. I convinced them that I was reading IBD to understand what was going on in markets (not invest in them) which was good because can you imagine what would have happened to me if I had given them an investment idea that didn’t pay off?

One of the reasons that I am very committed to radically re-imagining prisons is that it would be impossible for CO’s to ever be free of the incentives to embrace their worst selves or to not take advantage of the obvious and omnipresent power imbalances.

The Importance of being Doggett

Doggett’s discussion with Boo cuts right to the heart of one of the critical questions that the show asks about incarceration:

Can people be forgiven for “unforgivable” crimes?

For the first time, I understand why this Doggett and Boo storyline exists, it is easy to forgive someone for selling fake LSD or running a tax scam, but what about murder, what about rape.

We are so quick to pretend we are enlightened, but when push comes to shove, we still put everyone in separate categories (just like some animals are untouchable while others are okay to slaughter we have some criminals worthy of forgiving and others forever incapable of being forgiven).

As Doggett mentions to Boo, she herself killed someone, who she admits didn’t deserve it, in cold blood (she was angry because an abortion clinic nurse called her a baby killer as I recall).

How can she expect forgiveness or ever stand up straight again in a world without the possibility of forgiveness?

We are increasingly passing laws that only offer reform for “non-violent” criminals. What we are really doing is creating categories of people that it is acceptable and even encouraged to act terribly towards.

I am against throwing people under the bus. All incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people are my sisters and brothers and I want a better system for every single one of us.

I believe the following:

* Most crime is contextual or compulsive. People do need to make amends and pay a price for what they did, but people should not ALWAYS be defined forever by their worst moments. I believe people pay their debt to society when they serve their sentences.

* Some people are born or grown without empathy, these people should not be blamed for being deficient but they do need to be treated differently than people with a capacity for empathy.

* People who have made criminal mistakes have to do the hard work of discovering what went wrong and commit to the heavy lifting necessary to address their problems.

* There is NO ethically significant difference between brutalizing someone in society and brutalizing them because you have made a moral judgment about them that you think justifies wishing, encouraging, or participating in brutality against other human beings. Our humanity is defined by how we treat those who are broken or who are the most vulnerable among us.

* If you feel good making someone else suffer, you are engaging in the exact same mindset of otherization and brutality that creates the possibility of crime. Once we start playing with who it is okay to be cruel to, that idea becomes progressive inside us and growing like a parasite inside us. The biggest change in my life since being arrested is that I work very hard to treat every human being with respect, period.

There should be no difference between how we (society) treats Blanca and Maritza or between how we treat Sophia and Sister Ingalls. We should treat ALL human beings with dignity and care and when we have to restrain or confine them it should be with sadness, not glee.

Unlocking The Gates



I am 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.

If you are interested in criminal justice reform or are formerly incarcerated yourself, please consider joining the fight (if you are a Michigan resident - you can sign up by clicking on the hyperlink above).