“Minority Deport” Orange Is the New Black: Orange Black or Bleak: S7 E5 (Netflix)

Orange, Black, or Bleak S7 E5: “Minority Deport”

OITNB Final Season Hero 1.jpg

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 our most recent guest was Eli Savit who is running as a 2020 candidate for prosecutor in Michigan.

If you have not watched OITNB before *Spoiler Alert*

5. “They Like to Do It In The Morning”

Okay, I feel a bit bad about calling the shot on Maritza. Last week I was opining about how terrible it would be to be deported from the country where you have always lived to a country you have no memory of. Imagine losing your family, friends, house, job, car, town...every single thing you know and then in the most Kafkaesque way possible being deposited in a country where you know nobody, own no property and have no job.

Somehow, this administration has turned a questionable case for getting rid of people with criminal convictions (beyond being here illegally) into brutalizing families and traumatizing living breathing human beings by stripping them of everything and dropping them in the middle of nowhere (at least to them).

We should be ashamed of ourselves as a society.

Regardless of what you think of immigration, these kinds of deportations are just unnecessary and cruel. In Maritza’s case, she has committed a previous felony, and so she actually would be “legitimate” deportation if you accept the logic of the administration, but many people who are deported in this manner have no such previous criminal background/

Maybe you don’t know any of the folks who have been deported in this manner, but what is happening to Maritza is really happening all over this country (and not always to folks with previous convictions).

Sad way to say goodbye to Maritza, especially after they spent several weeks stripping away much of the nuance that made her character so great.

Blanca also pulls some legal mumbo-jumbo to get her deportation delayed. Also, if Maritza had contacted a lawyer before she was handing out the number of her attorney, wouldn’t her attorney have represented her in the hearing (since she had a stronger case than most folks I suspect there could have at least been a stay).

4. “I Think It’s Mostly the Getting Out of Prison”

Piper has never been more annoying than she is in this episode. As much as I hate to agree with whatever her agent is (since there is no federal parole), Piper getting drunk and high is dumb even for one of the most consistently frustrating characters in the history of the show.

Yes, people on parole or probation frequently “drop dirty” but most of them are struggling with addiction. Piper is not a drug addict, she has a job, she has a place to live, and theoretically, she is working to prepare a life for when her wife comes home from prison. 

In addition, then after she does it, she acts like a total moron with her officer. Are we supposed to believe that she learned absolutely nothing in her time incarcerated? There is no way that simple “I will send it to the lab” test would ever work...If you were truly busted and knew it, letting it go to the lab has nothing but benefits:

  • Good chance your agent doesn’t send it to the lab 

  • If she does send it, there is a good chance it never gets tested

  • If it gets tested, there is a good chance it comes back okay or at least confused

  • If it comes back positive, you bought yourself more time

  • And if you did time, you would be intensely suspicious of any deal that they offer you that is not in writing (I mean come on, “I won’t bust you for it?”)

Regardless, most all of what the “parole” agent said to Piper was good advice, at times it is very hard to root for Piper. I am not saying people don’t mess up on parole, they do all the time, what I am saying is that Piper has a lot to look forward to and she is kind of being a jerk feeling sorry for herself (and this is coming from someone who had a monitor for two years, was only allowed out of my house five hours a day and zero hours on weekends). 

By the way, as someone who has gone to many meetings, looking around and recognizing your relative privilege and advantages is good advice.

It was cool that Vause found a way to get Piper a present for their anniversary (although sequentially it shouldn’t have been long enough for an anniversary).

Oh, and just to re-emphasize the larger point since we now have Piper, Aleida, and soon to be Cindy on “parole,' here is the Supreme Court explaining how supervision works at the Federal level in the dissent in the Raymond case from last term:

“Under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (SRA), whenever a federal court sentences a criminal defendant to a term of imprisonment, the court may include in the sentence a term of supervised release, and under some circumstances supervised release is mandatory. 18 U. S. C. §3583. When a court imposes a term of supervised release, the order must specify the conditions with which the defendant is required to comply, §3583(d), and a judge may revoke supervised release and send a defendant back to prison if the judge finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant violated one of those conditions, §3583(e)(3).:”

Judges make these decisions at the federal level, and usually before someone even enters the prison doors. There are ways to reduce a sentence but they are program specific or require executive clemency (a pardon or a commutation by the President of the United States).

As we learned in this episode, Cindy has just started her first programming and it was not RDAP and we know it was not part of the Earned Credits portion of the First Step Act because that program is just now starting to be implemented.

3. “It Takes Her Two Hours To Watch Sixty Minutes”

Kind of sad to see Red losing her memory (Alzheimer's?). I mean let’s face it, Red was the glue that held the lives of many of the folks inside Litchfield together for the first six seasons of the show. On the one hand, it is sad to me that many of the characters are facing really unfortunate (and perhaps unnecessarily gratuitously dark) ends. 

I guess it is good that Nicky has met someone new?

Still, it is going to be really hard to watch one of the strongest characters on the show go out this way. 

On the other hand, a lot of prison stories don’t end well, and health care in prison is terrible.

2. “Mr. Ca-POO-To”

Look, Taystee literally kidnapped Warden Caputo while she was working as his administrative assistant. I am willing to go along with the suspension of disbelief as much as the next person but there is NO WAY in the world she would get that job back.

Taystee could be the world’s greatest administrative assistant with commendations from the President of the United States and she would not be working in the wardens office again.

Oh, also, a warden’s job is not to meet with incarcerated folks, it is to administer the prison. As I have mentioned before, in my whole time in prison I only saw wardens and assistant wardens when they were giving tours. It is true that some folks who are incarcerated might work cleaning their offices or even administrating, but there is no way Taystee would have that job ever again. Prisons can be incompetent and corrupt, but that just would never happen.

I don’t have much to say about the whole Aleida thing, I am not sure getting a new flashback in year seven explaining why Aleida would be furious about her young daughter dating an older drug dealer makes sense of getting her sent back to prison. In reality, she would have had Caesar’s people reach out to that kid and he would not keep dating her daughter.

I get that there is a dramatic reason to have Aleida back in prison with Hopper and Daya, but she has way too much street smarts to “violate her parole” (which doesn’t exist).

1. “Storky’s...With the Gravy Packet”

I am almost done with trying to make sense of this show. 

Federal facilities cannot grant early release unless, as I have mentioned before, a number of very specific conditions have been met (see the list from episode one). None of those conditions have been met in Cindy’s case.

But let’s go a step further, Litchfield manages a federal facility, they have no jurisdiction over releasing people incarcerated in their facilities. Not sure how she would have gotten an early release and the form was a federal form...but this makes no sense. It made no sense when Piper was let out and it makes no sense when Cindy is being let out.

Taystee would also NEVER be left in the warden’s office alone, this is a MAX facility, that would not even happen at a camp. The idea that she would just have full access to all of the warden’s documents is just laughable (and that is before even considering her background).

Unlocking The Gates



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.

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