Sea Witch: Orange Is the New Black S4 E10 “Bunny, Skull, Bunny Skull” (Netflix)
Orange, Black, or Bleak S4 E10: “Bunny, Skull, Bunny, Skull”
As I mentioned last week, I now have a podcast. If you haven’t heard it yet, it is called Decarceration Nation and is available from iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, or any of the podcast aggregators. The first three episodes have been posted. Here are some of the early reviews:
“Important, relevant. Sound questions, deep and knowledgeable discussion.” 5 Stars
“...one of the most enlightening podcasts I’ve heard” 5 Stars
“...as informative as it is important” 5 Stars
“This podcast gives a perspective on our legal system that boggles the mind.” 5 Stars
Hope you will give it a listen and let me know what you think. Your support is critical (especially in the first three weeks), to the podcast gaining traction.
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 10 “Bunny, Skull, Bunny, Skull”
OITNB S4 E10 “Bunny, Skull, Bunny, Skull” was about:
* Instead of a flashback, OITNB does a deep-dive into Aleida’s release from Litchfield. Aleida is released with nothing but her clothes, is picked up by Caesar’s other girlfriend, and finds out her nest egg was used without permission by her relatives.
* Daya’s adjustment to life without her Mother with her inside Litchfield. Gloria tries to keep her away from the Dominican gang in the beauty shop but Daya ignores her saying that she wants to be around people her own age. Daya offers to do nail art, including alternating nails with bunny, skull, bunny, skull.
* The continuing extra-judicial punishment of Blanca (who is being forced to stand on a table in the mess hall until she either apologizes or drops from exhaustion). The CO’s inform the rest of the inmates that if anyone helps Blanca they will be punished too.
Piper decides what is happening is inappropriate and takes it to Piscatella who tells her to take her complaint and shove it up her ass (more or less). Piper responds by giving Blanca food. CO Dixon sees Piper’s gesture and orders her to stand on the table next to Blanca.
* Sister Ingalls continuing attempts to acquire proof that Sophia is in the SHU. Things go horribly wrong when the cell phone she is hiding to take a picture of Sophia is discovered and confiscated.
Eventually, Caputo shows up and after ordering Sister Ingalls to remain in SHU, he takes the cell phone, takes a picture of Sophia himself, and then delivers the phone to Danny so that he can use it against MCC (Danny is now a prison reform activist). Danny tells Caputo to let Linda “the Sea Witch,” that he said hello.
* Red attempting to keep Nicky from using heroin by threatening all of the drug providers throughout the prison (including CO Dixon). Ultimately, Nicky appears to score marijuana from Luschek and maybe more, which infuriates Red.
* Maritza dealing with her horror after being forced to eat a baby mouse by CO Humps (who is apparently a totally insane psychopath). At one point, two of the other CO’s are shown talking about knowing that Humps is disturbed but also committing to back his insanity out of loyalty.
* Suzanne deciding to attempt to hook up with Kukudio again. Kukudio pretends to go along and then right as Suzanne is getting really excited, she stops abruptly as revenge for Suzanne walking out on her in the woods behind Litchfield (after everyone visited the Lake last season).
* Taystee convincing Caputo to let her show The Wiz on movie night. The playing of the movie almost starts a race war between the Black Girls and the Nazi’s. The CO’s ultimately stop the movie early causing tensions to increase even more.
During the increasing tensions, Cindy notices that Judy King leaves instead of standing with her and the rest of the African American girls.
As we talked about last week, private prison companies are often not under the same reporting requirements as State or Federally run prisons. As a result, abuses are much more easily covered up. If there is no Freedom of Information Act process, it becomes pretty hard to request the records of particular prisoners (like Sophia) or of disciplinary practices (like what the CO’s are doing to Blanca).
As you might remember from our discussions of other seasons, prisons have a quasi-legal process (called the grievance process), where prisoners can cite abuses.and, over time, continue those grievances until they rise to the court level.
If the Correctional Officers refuse, however, to move any particularly troubling grievances up the chain, they could effectively kill those grievances. This is part of the moral hazard created when a corporation runs a prison because they are not subject to the same procedures and bureaucratic rules as government-run facilities are.
Release In Name Only
Just yesterday I gave a speech at a Poor People’s Campaign event about how incarceration manufactures poverty. When you are arrested, you have to figure out how to pay for cash bail and if you can afford a lawyer (which is usually very expensive. I had to cash in my retirement to be able to afford the 10k for my mediocre lawyer).
Let me be perfectly frank, my lawyer got paid $10,000 to negotiate a plea bargain, go to court with me four times, meet with me twice at his office, and never talk to me again. That is one heck of a return on his investment in my case.
After you are sentenced, often your friends or family pay money so that you can have a commissary account and an occasional phone call home (phone charges run about $15 for a 15-minute call). If you managed to save some money before you went away, the prison system will legally claim it (to defray the costs of your incarceration).
So, when you come out of prison, you are either rich enough to have paid 30k for every year you were incarcerated or totally broke. But, after your release, you face court costs, monitoring costs, parole fees, and restitution all of which have to be paid before you can graduate from parole and probation.
You are broke, you are in massive debt (I didn’t have restitution and I still owed over 6k), and you face employment and housing discrimination. Our criminal justice system manufactures poverty. Also, that story the CO tells about someone getting taken to jail on the way home from prison was not made up. You really do get released with nothing and to nothing.
Gangs mostly don’t antagonize each other too often inside, they mostly work together to maintain the unofficial economy inside prison and make sure all illegal commerce works through their system.
There is a lot of violence, but it is usually violence against people who owe money, against snitches (or people suspected of snitching), people who anger the gangs, people who committed crimes that other inmates don’t approve of, or people who don’t pay their extortion etc.
It is unlikely the Nazis would try to start a fight with the black girls or the Latinas for obvious reasons (they are seriously outnumbered). Structural racism has ensured that African Americans and Latin Americans are overrepresented in prisons and jails (as I have said before, you would have to be willfully ignorant to walk into a jail or prison and not see the structural racism).
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).