Incarceration Life


Imprisonmentis one of the common ways of punishing or rehabilitating the wrongdoers. This is basically called incarceration.In most cases, prison life is inhumane. The prisoners and detaineesin most local, state or federal correctional facilities suffer fromat least a few of the difficulties and abuses they are exposed to.This paper aims at discussing all the abuses and violation of aprisoner’s entitlement to a smooth life in his incarcerated years.The paper gives a clear insight of a prison life by portraying theunpleasant experiences witnessed in Jenji Kohan comedy-drama series-OrangeIs the New Black- OITNB. Thesehorrible experiences are reflected in real life as the seriesportrays it (OINTB, Season 1-2).


PiperChapman, the leading character in the show OITNBwasset to display the entire trauma that a common inmate is likely tosuffer from. Inmates are subjected to a variety of horriblemistreatments and abuses. Some are abused by the prison’s staff oreven other criminal prisoners. Both male and female correctionalfacilities have been affected by poor prison conditions (OINTB,Season 1-2).

Acloser look between the OITNBandRealLife situationreveals how prisoners live on a day to day basis:

  • Sexual Abuse:

OITNBInan early episode of this film series, the prisoner guard Pornstachewas creepily looking at Piper Chapman as she was taking her bra off.Later in the series, Pornstache smuggles drugs in prison in exchangefor sex with an inmate. Obviously, the guard violates his code ofconduct by misusing his authority to manipulate the female inmates.Therefore, Pornstache is a loathsome, in that he also brags that heabuses the incarcerated women whenever he wants and always gets awaywith it. He says that the females are willing to give oral sex inexchange for half a cigarette. Piper Chapman was also molested byMendez, in the search for a lost screwdriver (OINTB, Season 1-2).

RealLife:In real life situations, prisoners face various forms of sexualabusive. Prisoners rape fellow prisoners. Guards are also involved insexual molestations as well. Homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenderpersons are occasionally raped or abused by other inmates. Prisonlife can be very solitary, and hence this ends up in accumulatedsexual desires towards an opposite or same sex, depending. Drugaddicts are profoundly affected since they are subjected to sexualabuses in order for them to “replenish” their substanceindulgence. In these cases, guards are involved in inmates’ abuse.Food can also be a means for sexual favours from prisoners. At leastall prisons have dealt with some of sexual abusive (Johnson &ampRobert, Hard Time).

  • Role of guards:

OITNB:Someof the guards in the Litchfield Prison are abusive. Pornstache is oneof the main characters that portray sexual abuse of the inmates. Heabuses several inmates. In one of the instances, Reds a matriarch ofthe kitchen staff served a bloody tampon to Piper Chapman in a mealoccasion. Piper is also starved and denied her right to eat and feedappropriately when she offends the kitchen staff. In this show, it isa clear fact that guards are allowed to watch and carry on with whatthey want. Porntsache goes further by threatening Red and urinatingon her thanksgiving gravy. Sam Healy, a male prison guard, has anundesirable view towards homosexuality in the Litchfield prison. Hesends Piper into Security Housing Unit/Solitary- SHU once he foundout that Piper was engaged in a provocative lesbian intimacy with oneof the inmates. Other guards fall in love with inmates, for instance,John Bennett had a relationship with Daya. Prison guards alsocompound on the severe hardships of inmates lives by mismanaging andembezzling the funds that are supposed to cater for the prisoners.Natalie-Fig- Figueroa a deputy warden is one of the corrupt wardensas she also cuts funds and luxuries programs for the inmates. She isuncaring and manipulative towards other staff as well. In one of theinstances, she tried to transfer Piper to another correctionalfacility, after she found out that Chapman was involved in aninvestigative report that tried to uncover the corruption scam thatwas so evident in the facility (OINTB,

RealLife:Therole of all security guards is to protect the prisoners. However, insome instances, guards tend to violate their roles. The guards abuseinmates by way of depriving them of their rights, such as the rightto have hygienic and healthy food. If a prisoner fails to fulfil theexpectations of a guard, then it becomes a problem, where an inmatewill ultimately suffer. Guards are subjects of corruption, in thatthey tend to receive material bribes or other favours when a prisonerwants something that is illegal in the prison. This is wheresmuggling of contrabands gets access to the “correctional facility”(Johnson &amp Robert, Hard Time).

  • Food:

OITNB:Chapman was served with a bloody tampon because she had insulted thekitchen matriarch. Inmates are occasionally served with cornbread,waffles, toast, oat meats and oranges as evident in most of theepisodes. It is clearly shown that, inmates are deprived from eatingand starved when they are engaged in any confrontational instanceswith the staffs. The kitchen is badly set up as the main freezer wasirreparably damaged. This meant that the prepared food was nothealthy-wise up to standard. Food is both used as a punishment andreward as well. The inmates who work in the kitchen have a smootherway of living in their incarceration years. The have the privilege offeeding on whatever they want, different from the common inmates. Inseason one, Flaca, a kitchen staff was involved into a fight when shemessed up with Taystee’s ice cream. This shows the extent of foodvalue in a prison, and which is most likely result into a physicalbrawl. Food can also be used a means of getting favours as seen whenVee tried to re-unite with Taystee her former intimate girlfriend, byserving her with Funfetti cake laced with chocolate icing. Pie is oneof the foods used by the inmates as a form of airborne tool forfighting. It is thrown on a rival’s hair and clothes as show ofdisrespect or dislike towards one another (OINTB,


RealLife:Thetypical prison food is supposed to be low-caloric, low-sugar andlow-salt and low-fat. Religion and cultural dietary practices mayalso be taken into account in certain circumstances. Sick people arealso put on special diet. Prisoners have an entitlement forpurchasing extra food at the prisoncommissary. Suchfood is honey, chocolate, peanut butter among others. However, prisonfood is not so healthy this is supported by the various hungerstrikes that normally happen in most prisons. There has been evidenceof prisoners dying from illnesses caused by poor preparation of food.

  • Relationships:

OINTB:Various relationships have been witnessed in the film series. Theaffairs are mostly common among the inmates. For instances, Pousseyhas a love affair with Taystee. Their relationship comes to a problemwhen Vee joins the prison fraternity at Litchfield. This turns into achaotic scene in the bathroom when Poussey got drunk and attackedVee. Piper Chapman was engaged to her former boyfriend Larry Bloomand has continued to be engaged even in the incarceration of Chapman.They still are connected to each other. Piper had an eye on Alexwhile Crazy Eyes had a crush on Chapman. Pornstache had a connectionto Daya. Mendez was suspended from prison after their relationshipended to a sexual intercourse, which is illegal in prison. This is arelationship between a prison staff and an inmate that is also notedbetween Bennett and Daya, who exercise their affair in privacy. Dayaperforms oral sex to him in a utility closet. Bennet went further toimpregnate Daya. Big Boo is a lesbian and was openly expressing heraffection to Mercy, an inmate who was released from prison later whowas also committed to her ex-girlfriend Tricia. “Lesbianism” isthe most common sexuality feeling witnessed in this film series. Thisa female prison where homosexuality is prime (OINTB,


RealLife: Inprison, there has to exist a form of relationship just to run asmooth life. Prisoner-prisoner relationships are common. This isevident by roommates sharing common the items together. It’s a formof relationship since it’s a mutual establishment. Otherrelationships extend to sexual practises where individuals areengaged in homosexual, bisexual or even transgender activities. Theseare normal in most prisons but against the rule of law. In otheroccurrences, guards are involved in relationships with inmates. Thismainly happens in female prisons, where male guards tend tomanipulate female inmates in exchange of personal favours.

  • Access to Activities:

OINTB:Theprison has a wide variety of recreational facilities. There is a Yogafacilitythat is run by the one Erica Yoga. Inmates are allowed the freedom doyoga exercises. The libraryisanother facility, where inmates usually pay a visit to get knowledge.This is evident when Piper recommends NicholsonBakerto Tricia, another prisoner. One of the security guards was readingthe book NightShift Redprefers to read UnnaturalDisasters. Hence,aside from the library, books are also a critical media forre-uniting with the “world.” Occasionally, the library is ameeting place for sharing views. It is where Piper tells Alex thatshe is going to get married. Sophia Burset is inmate who works at theprison’s hair salon. She is a hair stylist in the episodeFucksgiving, Sophia attends to Piper’s hair (OINTB,


RealLife:Inreal life, prisoners are exposed to a variety of activities. Theseinclude gym facilities, out field events such as basketball andsoccer. Chess is also a common game in prisons. Libraries areincorporated in prisons for the benefit of the readers. Prisons aregiven a right to fresh air for a couple of hours per day. Offendershave to be given access to recreational activities so that it becomespart of the correctional program. Another usual activity isemployment in areas such as the kitchen, bakery and tailor shop amongothers.

  • Violence and Contraband:

OINTB:Red’s son Vasily helps his mother to smuggle in contraband from theoutside. Red smuggles drugs through the kitchen where she works.Mendez, a guard supplied drugs to inmates such as Tricia, who laterfalls sick. Pornstache uses drugs as a means of getting sexualfavours from the female prisoners such as Leanne Taylor. Violence isinfrequent in Season One, and more localised in Season Two, wheremurders, beatings, blood, bullying and intimidation are the mainforms of graphical violence in Litchfield Penitentiary. An inmatestrangles a guard and is pulled off as the guard tries to gasp forair helplessly. A woman threatens another woman with a razor knifeand goes on to cut her. As seen, arguments are the result of violentincidences. The use of abusive and vulgar language is too prominentin the inmates frequently use racial slurs in the day to daycommunication. Many inmates indulge in hard drug abuse, whereastobacco smoking is the common indulgence. Drug abuse combined withracial discrimination heightened the violence portrayed in the series(OINTB,


RealLife: Inat least all prisons, violence is a main occurrence. Basically,violence erupts between gang affiliations. In prison, there are gangsections and any infringement of a gang’s section is seen as aninsult which results to severe consequences. Violence also eruptsbetween the inmates and the prison wardens, in cases where there isan unrest that threatens the prisoner’s and the warden’s lives.Contraband smuggling is a major undercover business that runs in thecorrectional facilities. Drugs, weapons and other illegal items finda way in prisons because of corruption (Johnson &amp Robert, HardTime).

  • Furloughs:

OINTB:This is a form of leave or absence from a correctional facilities,due to personal circumstances that very important to an inmate. AnitaDemarco, one of the oldest inmates suffered a severe heart attack.Her husband had to undergo an open heart surgery while she had toattend the first birthday for her first grandchild, thus Anita had toseek a furloughleave. Sophia,the prison hair dresser also applied for a furloughwhenshe learnt that her father had to undergo a lung transplant procedure(OINTB,


RealLife: Furloughsare granted to prisoners in limited capacities. This is like a formof vacation. A prisoner may be given a right to attend a family’sevent or attend to a personal event. For example, if an inmate has toundergo a major surgery, he/she is given a furlough right. Otherinmates are given entitlement to go escort free at their time ofrelease. Some inmates are given a vacation time outside even if theirprison sentence is not over and this been a controversial subjectamong various critics (Johnson Robert, Hard Time).


JenjiKohan chose to portray the prison life in the aspects above. This wasa very insightful way of giving us a detailed way of what to expectwhen one is incarcerated. Kohan decided to use a female correctionalfacility so that we can see that all the forms of discriminations andprejudices that take place in most prisons.

Basically,prison is a bad life.


OINTBTV series, Season 1-2.

Johnson,Robert.&nbspHardtime: Understanding and reforming the prison.Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, 1987.

Rosenblatt,Elihu, ed.&nbspCriminalinjustice: Confronting the prison crisis.Boston: South End Press, 1996.