Kobe Beef: Orange Is the New Black S3 E12 “Don’t Make Me Come Back There” (Netflix)

Orange, Black, or Bleak S3 E12: “Don’t Make Me Come Back There’”

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.

If you are a fan of the show, you should help me in supporting “Dignity For Incarcerated Women Act” in the US Senate and House of Representatives (ensuring that women prisoners have free access to sanitary napkins, aren’t put in solitary when pregnant, and aren’t shackled when pregnant etc.).

Contact Your Senator

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This episode begins the wrapping-up of season 3 and allows me to discuss pseudo-families in women’s prisons, the importance of language, and the ongoing secret tragedy of administrative segregation.

If you have not watched OITNB before *Spoiler Alert*

Some Things About Season 3 Episode 12 “Don’t Make Me Come Back There”

Netflix

Netflix

OITNB S3 E12 “Don’t Make Me Come Back There” is about:

* The backstory of Aleida’s history of ruining Daya’s opportunities, even when she set them up herself, because of her fear that she will lose Daya’s unconditional love. Maria explains it as acting like her child needs her when, really, it is the mother’s need for the kid.

This time, Aleida decides to sabotage the arrangement for the mother of George Mendez to take the baby after birth. Aleida tells George’s Mom the baby was a boy and died during childbirth (it was a healthy girl).

* Piper deciding what to do with her Vause vs. Stella situation as well as CO Bayley’s attempted defection from the panty business.

Stella helps Piper convince Bayley to continue to act as a mule for the panty business while Alex wants nothing to do with her illegal enterprise. Eventually, Piper decides to date Stella only to find out that Stella is getting released in a few days.

In other words, we are doomed to be subjected to many more seasons of the Piper/Vause soap opera.

In other Piper news, her brother and his wife are fighting about how to expand the supply of panties from outside of the prison.

* SoSo asking Healy to help her get psych meds for her depression after Berdie was suspended. The psychiatrist who prescribes the meds is disorganized and incompetent which allows SoSo to steal a bunch of meds resulting in an overdose (Poussey finds her).

* Boo convincing Doggett to participate in a revenge scheme on Donuts in which they drug him and are supposed to leave him passed out anally violated with a broom handle. After they miraculously manage to not only drug him but also get him to pass out in an area where nobody would see them, Doggett realizes that she has no desire to brutalize him. As she puts it, she isn’t full or rage, she is just “sad.”

* Caputo seeing the infamous chicken in the yard and also finding out that there is a hole in the fencing (which would have been found almost immediately - they do perimeter checks several times a day). In case people forgot, Chang made the hole to hide her oranges many moons ago.

* Suzanne getting frustrated that other inmates have started to write fan fiction around her "Time-hump chronicles."

* Red deciding to overcome her cooking limitations by holding special dinners where people are chosen to attend by signing up for a blind lottery.

Her intention was to center the meal around some fresh corn from the garden but Cindy steals the corn from under Frieda’s nose and the African American crew eats the corn causing Taystee to negotiate a peace settlement with Red (only to find out that she has become the “Mom” of her crew.

Healy, in one of his better moments, secretly replaces the corn (allowing the dinner to go forward). Red leaves Healy a piece of the Quiche that she makes for the dinner.

* Sophia getting attacked by women multiple times for being Transgender. MCC decides to lock her up in solitary ‘for her own safety’ (but really to prevent her from entering a discrimination lawsuit against them in court).

“I’m The Mom?”

Taystee finds out that she has become the defacto Mom of the African-American women in her unit (replacing Vee).

Pretty sure that I have mentioned this before, but one of the core differences between men’s and women’s prisons is that the social structure in women’s prisons follows a family model. So, if you hang out in a particular social grouping, that group will usually have a Mom, a grandmother, etc.

Researchers call these “Pseudo-Families” and they often operate both as a support structure but can also, in many cases, serve as the structure for coercion and extortion. Red, for instance, is a mostly-benevolent Mom while Vee (Season 2) was more coercive.

It is my goal to talk to several of my friends who did time in women’s prison about “pseudo-families” to get a better grip on how these groups function (we didn’t have pseudo-families in any of the men’s prisons where I was incarcerated).

Dirty Dirty Felons

One of the ironies of Piper’s new business is that it is built on exploiting people’s deeply held prejudices about prisoners.

When Cal’s wife Neri shoots down his “Artisanal Panty” idea because their core client isn’t looking for "Kobe Beef" but are looking for “Dirty Dirty Felons" the writers are making a statement, I suspect, about the precarious position the show itself often finds itself in terms of marketing the bodies of prisoners.

I have seen "fan" videos compressing, for instance, all the lesbian sex scenes on OITNB into a montage passed around on video sites. There is certainly a built-in tension between putting prisoner's humanity at the center of your show but also having to be constantly careful about exploiting your subjects.

Or maybe they don't get that the Panty storyline is as much about OITNB as it is about Piper and exploitation of the fictional prisoner's on the show? 

I certainly hope that they feel that tension every day because the language you use and how you choose to depict even fictionally imprisoned people is important to the public perception of prisoners and or formerly incarcerated people.

Language matters.

The prison we are locked in, as formerly incarcerated people, is often a prison of language and those prison doors never seem to get unlocked. I have been referred to in the present tense as everything from a “felon” to an “offender” or worse.

I am a person who, at one time, committed three felonies, I am not a felon (which suggest ongoing participation in felonious behaviors).

I am a person who, at one time, offended, I am not an offender (which suggests an ongoing participation in illegal activities).

We should not make NOUNS out of adjectives, the people who have served time (and who are serving time)  are more than their crimes and we all pay our debt to society when we serve our sentences.

Notice also that no option is suggested, by Cal or Neri, which humanizes people in prison (they are either “Dirty Dirty Felons” or “Kobe Beef” (caged animals being bred to serve human needs).

While it could be satisfying to use the master's tools, it leaves the master's house intact. Piper is getting wealthy by exploiting other inmates and playing to social stereotypes that continue to trap the vast majority of people who were formerly incarcerated in cycles of poverty, depression, and despair.   

Piper has basically chosen to use her fellow inmates as breeding stock for non-felons with panty fetishes (I think I might have mentioned before that Piper isn’t a very heroic character?).

Language matters, as long as we are seen as sub-humans, people can treat us as if we don’t deserve even the minimal level of respect reserved for human beings.

For Your Own Protection

Yes, what happened to Sophia is a real thing.

If you get in trouble with a gang, or owe gambling debt, or can’t afford to pay if being extorted, you will often have to do what is called “Locking Up.” There are a million other reasons a prison can force you into administrative segregation (including for your own good).

Locking up means you ask to be placed or get forcibly placed, in Administrative Segregation (aka the SHU).

As I have mentioned before, I know people who were locked in solitary for years (mostly against their will).

I know prisons don’t always have many viable options when they are dealing with people who have become targets of violence, but the worst possible answer is to torture the target of violence for being a target.

There has to be a better (and more humane) way to safely segregate prisoners who are at risk.

You might be wondering why anyone would choose solitary instead of asking for a transfer to a different unit or a different prison?

First of all, news travels quickly across prison systems, all inmates can use the phone to call people on the outside who pass the new on to other facilities. So, if a gang member in Prison A sent out information about a certain prisoner through affiliated gang members on the outside, they would pass the information to gang members in other facilities.

Second, prisons don’t always accommodate movement requests.

Solitary is exactly as awful as you might imagine, only worse.

What they just did to Sophia (who did nothing wrong) is torture.

Solitary Confinement is torture.

Unlocking The Gates

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Netflix

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).

Today's Comment Question is:

"Is Orange Is the New Black more humane or exploitative to its prisoners?"

Leave a comment, let people know.  Or, if you have questions, I respond to 100% of my comments!