Orange Is The New Black: Orange Black or Bleak: S1 E7 “Blood Donut” (Netflix)

Orange, Black, or Bleak S1 E7: “Blood Donut”

As a formerly incarcerated person, I have decided to do a deep-dive into OITNB to help explain things that folks watching the show without a felony background might not catch or have the context to understand.

I am also trying, occasionally, to make a case for criminal and social justice reform.

If you have not watched OITNB before *Spoiler Alert*

5 Things About Season 1 Episode 7 "Blood Donut"

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Blood Donut is about:

* Telling Janae Watson's story. This episode takes Watson (Vicky Jeudy) her from lonely track star to store-robbing but connected felon.

* The start of the exploration of the backstory of Yoga Jones (Constance Shulman). During a confrontation with Watson, we find out that Yoga Jones was responsible for the death of a child.

* The deepening of the tension between Piper (Taylor Schilling) and Doggett (Taryn Manning). We also find out that Doggett is mad because she wanted to be elected to the WAC so that she could leverage a set of false teeth out of Healy (because he sister was able to do the same at a different prison).

*  Piper's battle between her desire to get the prison yard opened again (for herself and to pay back Janae) and her willingness to sell out an inmates secret cell phone in order to get what she wants. As usual, Piper chooses herself over others (although she tries to couch it in helping Janae, she wanted to run just as much as Janae did).

5. Hey Kate Winslet, See Any Icebergs?

I included this one really just as an excuse for me to work in something about Big Boo (Lea DeLaria) who is one of my favorite characters on OITNB.

Watson is released from SHU and is standing outside with her arms outstretched (in a Christlike pose) when Big Boo walks by and makes the Kate Winslet quip. 

It was pretty funny, but I am pretty sure Watson was imitating Shawshank not Titanic (why in the world would getting out of SHU be like expressing love to the world from the bow of the Titanic?).

Still, it was a pretty good dig.

Shawshank is, without a doubt, the best prison movie of all time and it gets quoted in prison all the time and every single time someone new comes in someone will make reference to the "fat fatass" scene at the beginning ("I'm not supposed to be here").

Here is a funny story about the Casting of that role (it is right at the beginning of the clip).

Shawshank is also one of the only movies in the history of film that was better than the book it was based upon (A Stephen King short-story called "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption").

4. "The Pillow We Get Is Thin Like Paper"

Maria Ruiz (Jessica Pimentel) tells Healy (Michael Harney, at the first meeting of the Women's Advisory Council) that the pillows are too thin.

This is 100% true.

It never occurred to me, in all of my pre-jail and pre-prison preparation to think that I would be without a pillow. After spending my entire life with a pillow, I will freely admit that I took pillows for granted.

In jail, we had no pillows. The trick you learned was to roll the cushion on your bed up so that it functioned almost like a pillow. 

In prison, you do have pillows but they are tiny and are actually "thin like paper." You are, however, given traditional pillow cases for those tiny pillows and most inmates just roll extra things up with the "pillow" inside of the pillow case in order to give the pillow more heft.

In the summer I would surround my pillow with my prison coat and cover it with the pillow case. Ended up being pretty comfy. I kind of doubt anyone would throw too much of a fit over the pillows because everyone figures out how to make them work.

Could be a guy-girl thing, so I totally could be wrong.

Many people had an extra pillow, but sometimes CO's would consider extra pillows to be contraband.

3. No One Here Gives a Crap About The Long-Term Chapman

Counselor Healy says this to Chapman after she suggests that opening the yard will decrease the long-term health care costs of Litchfield Correctional.

Piper is obviously right but what Healy says about DOC economics is also 100% true.

Prison administrations and State Governments always seem to favor short-term cuts over long-term savings (usually in very counterproductive ways).

Programming is a great example. In Michigan, there are unwritten but parole board enforced programming requirements for inmates. When people don't have the programming, they do not get paroled. Virtually every inmate who gets the programming gets released after their first parole opportunity.

Programs are generally broken up into 15 inmate groups. So, for the cost of one therapist or counselor, you can expedite the parole of 15 people at a savings of 37k per inmate per year.

But guess what the first thing that gets cut every year but rarely gets expanded might be? Yup, you guessed it, programming. So, if you do the math, by cutting the cost of one counselor for one group (maybe 10k in cost) the state costs itself $555,000.00 a year.

Now that is some idiotic short-term thinking.

2. "I Ain't Gonna Get Soft Like the Rest of Y'all"

Watson decides to work out doing up-downs in the unit after lights out. 

What Watson did here would never..ever happen.

Let me rephrase, if someone did what Watson did, it wouldn't last for long.

If an inmate woke the rest of the unit up or kept them up, they would not survive very long in prison.

It would really piss off all of the long-timers and nobody would be happy. Nobody would risk pissing every single person in the unit off on purpose unless they were suicidal.

People do, however, work out all the time. Heck, I worked out and exercised more in prison than I did the rest of my entire life combined (sad but true). I played basketball almost every day, lifted, did push-ups, and walked the yard multiple times a day.

But, inmates never go out of their way to interfere with other people's sleep after lights out.

1. "One was for smacking a bitch for not respecting my ice-machine choices."

Taystee (Danielle Brooks) is up for parole (or whatever they call parole at the Federal Level) and starts to practice with some of the other inmates.

There is nothing that gets you as hopeful and nervous as knowing you will see the parole board soon and nothing as devastating as getting a parole denial.

And I am virtually certain it is all pre-determined. 

I had zero disciplinary actions in prison and never had anything more than a parking ticket prior to prison and I was given the third degree and denied twice before I got programming and was barely questioned at all and was released almost immediately after I completed my programming.

It is true that Inmates practice their parole answers with other inmates, and in a way, it makes you calmer when you end up in front of the board. 

They are also correct to tell Taystee that she should show remorse, the board is unlikely to let anyone out who does not admit to their crime and show remorse.

You really do feel like your guts have been ripped out and stomped on when you get a parole denial. It took me weeks to recover from both times that I got a denial.

This is a bit off-topic, but Piper giving up someone else's Cell Phone would be BAD.

In fact, Piper getting added to the council by Healy when she didn't even run would most like have marked Chapman as a snitch. So, she would be the first suspect, and in prison, being a suspect is almost as bad as being guilty of snitching (especially with Doggett running around calling out Piper's close relationship with Healy to everyone who will listen). 

I once saw a guy get the crap beaten out of him because someone in his cube got some contraband collected by the guards. It turned out someone totally different snitched, but the guy who got beaten down was "under suspicion." 

Yes, Piper does take advantage of the kindness of CO Fisher (Lauren Lapkus) in order to get the track reopened but that wouldn't fix anything for her. Yes, the track got reopened, but that probably would only make her look even more inappropriately cozy with the prison administration.

Unlocking The Gates

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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:

"What Do You Love the Most About OITNB & What Annoys you the Most About OITNB?" 

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

Today's book is Bryan Stevenson's book "Just Mercy."