Murder Math?: Orange Is the New Black S4 E1 “Work That Body For Me” (Netflix)

Orange, Black, or Bleak S4 E1: “Work That Body For Me’”

Okay, we are starting Season 4 finally. Wow, been a long journey (I think this is officially my 50th post).

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.).

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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 use of administrative segregation.

If you have not watched OITNB before *Spoiler Alert*

Some Things About Season 4 Episode 1 “Work That Body For Me”

Netflix

Netflix

OITNB S4 E1 “Work That Body For Me” is about:

* Resolving the cliffhanger of the attack by Kubra’s hitman Aiden on Alex. Lolly hears a ruckus in the greenhouse, walks in and hits Aiden from behind and then kicks him repeatedly in the head until they assume that he is unconscious. Kubra texts asking for proof, so they take a proof of death picture.

Later, Alex returns to the greenhouse to figure out how to get rid of the body and discovers that Aiden is still alive and decides that she has to finish him off by suffocation. Later Lolly and Alex join with Frieda to dismember and dispose of the body (they bury him in the garden).

* Caputo realizes that he now has the power to demand CO’s from Max be sent to Litchfield to help him deal with his staffing problems and as a result, we get the first appearance of CO Desi Piscatella.

Piscatella starts to establish what will become a troubling relationship with Red. The full impact of the changes coming from MCC start to become apparent as hundreds of new inmates arrive and the hours for chow change.

* Piper is still convinced that she is a total badass and that she is running the camp. She mostly walks around threatening anyone who talks back to her or gives her any sass (this is just silly). Pidge and Ouija show up and want to know who is in charge and Flacca points them towards Piper (insanity).

* Suzanne escapes with Maureen and then realizes that Maureen is even crazier than she is so she runs away back to Litchfield. Maureen decides to stay and is eventually recovered by Caputo.

* The official arrival of Judy King at Litchfield. Because of all the CO’s quitting and the aftereffects of the entire camp population taking a swimming break nobody is there to take her into custody when she first arrives. Ultimately, Luschek and then Caputo move her to a private room (Healy’s office).

Running With Toilet Paper?

When Alex takes off in the middle of the night to check on what she thinks is Kubra’s dead hitman she is running down the hall with a roll of toilet paper.

Why?

That is actually a nice authentic touch. Inmates are given rolls of toilet paper on a regular basis and you carry those with you when you go to the bathroom. So, what Alex is signaling to any CO who might be watching is that she is headed to the bathroom (one of the only reasons you are allowed to leave your bunk area after lights out).

Two other little details:

* Alex gives Frieda the set of facility keys that she recovered from the hitman. This might seem like a small detail, but if you have seen Season 5, this explains a great deal about how Frieda has the access all over the facility that she has.

The Overcrowding Blues

When someone mentions that “overcrowding is dangerous” they were telling the truth.

For most of my three years incarcerated, I was housed in a pole barn holding 160 inmates stacked 4 to a cube (just like what you are seeing put in place in the Litchfield unit). The main difference between Litchfield and the places where I was housed are that our barns were bigger to start with and designed to stack inmates like cordwood from the start.

It is very true that the more people you have the more complicated the competition for resources and for space, especially when the administration is purposefully dialing back resources at the exact same time. From the time when I first arrived, you could see the steady decline of what started out as pretty terrible food. During the entire time I was there, you could feel the steady press of steadily increasing prices for commissary items.

Imagine yourself living in a square of four double bunk beds surrounded on all sides by more squares of double bunk beds, literally the only space you have that is your own is your bunk itself (and a locker). Remember that you are also radically vulnerable to the other 159 inmates whenever you are asleep (space is open, there are no walls between the cubes).

Now imagine that everyone is poor, frustrated, angry, humiliated, and hungry.

It is certainly not a living arrangement designed for what they call “offender success.”

Count Time

There have been some disputes between myself and a few of the other formerly incarcerated folks who read these over what the heck is going on with the count at Litchfield.

For those of you who don’t know what “count” represents, it is the primary method most prisons use to ensure that the correct inmates are in the correct places. Counts usually happen at established times throughout every day and every night. Generally, the lower the security level the higher the number of counts (because there is less free movement and freedom at the higher security levels so less uncertainty about people’s locations).

At state facilities, or at least at state facilities in Michigan, you have to be at your bunk and be checked off by your prisoner number every single time. On the television show, they seem to just take a click count (although they seem to never get it right). However, Luschek is supposed to be printing off count sheets for Caputo which means, I think, that the primary backup method for the count at Litchfield is to do count using count sheets.

I am sure to the casual watcher, this probably seems irrelevant, but this is one of the main daily activities in a prison and the procedures are practiced multiple times every single day. No matter how much employee turnover you experienced, the procedures would be well-established.

Anyway, watching the ever-changing procedures for the count on Orange Is the New Black is kind of like nails on a chalkboard for me.

Unlocking The Gates

Netflix

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).

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