I just finished the third season of Netflix’s successful series “Orange is the New Black” and to my delight, Lynchfield Federal Penitentiary is just as fucked up a place as season two left it.
“Orange is the New Black” is successful and compelling because it is told from a white, middle class, educated woman’s perspective. Due to her background, the show’s founder Piper Kerman was able to communicate the some of the horrors of America’s prison system to people who would not normally have first or second hand knowledge. This social phenomenon is the same as when Hannibal Burress pointed out a well kept but open Hollywood secret that Bill Cosby is a rapist; people of the same class or group of people are more likely to be listened to when they have more privilege than the group of people who are typically victims within a social phenomenon. In the case of prison, lower income and less well educated persons as well as people of color are statistically more likely to have more of either a first or second hand experience with the American prison system. Kerman spoke for the unspoken, which obviously has its flaws because the perspective is one of solipsism. Though in OINTB’S case, there is at least something to suggest that there is a certain level of self consciousness in it’s own middle classed white lady solipsism. However, this makes Piper’s character even less likable than some of the characters in HBO’s “Oz”. As Vice.com commented rather rashly, some people even would want the character dead.
Piper is white, educated, without ethics, crafty, and aware of the loopholes of both the corporate world and the prison world. She is also somewhat fearless due to her privilege and lack of morals and ethics. She lacks a moral code because she sees no problem in lying in order to gain a more favorable position. She lacks a clear ethical code because of how often she contradicts herself due to her lack of a moral compass, she could not articulate clearly why she committed one deed but not another other than a mean’s to an ends. In the third season, the disgusting nature of private prisons makes its way to Lynchfield. This brings many problems, from incompetent staff, to overcrowding, gruel that no one really deserves to eat, and what is modern corporate slave labor. By contracting out labor for pennies (or one whole dollar, essentially worth pennies in this economy) corporate prisons join with corporations that produce goods in an immoral system that exploits prisoners and keeps the oppressive prison industrial complex so intricate that arguably without it, the cost of goods would soar exponentially high. Of course, this is not solely due to the cost of labor being so outrageous. This is mostly due to outrageous CEO salaries and corporate subsidies provided for by congressional favors. In other words, because of people who think like Piper, the world is truly a shitty place.
In America, it is constitutionally ethical that the minimum number of persons stay in prison for an appropriate sentence based on the harm done to society by his or her actions. It is not ethical to contract out this state mandated responsibility because of the constitutional protections Americans are entitled to receive. Prisoners should use the time they are sentenced to reflect of the negative nature of their lives and what happened to get them involved in the correction system. They should be offered programs and services to rehabilitate them to optimize their purpose in society. Prisoners should not be further degraded by staff or expected to receive an undue amount of physical punishment, and certainly prisoners should not be exploited.
The way that the corporate prison system in OINTB and the mindset of Piper are both of an exploitative orientation toward prisoners. For the corporate fucks, overcrowding bunks and dormitories, giving substandard food, and making a maximum profit margin on human suffering was an appropriate way to organize their time and effort when given the task of caring for American prisoners. For Piper, a whole prison full of underprivileged, under educated, and economically disadvantaged women was a playpen for making money from sexually inclined weirdos. Scheming, she used the panty sewing business the prison industrial complex bestowed upon the Lynchfield women and the natural secretions of the human body to pay pennies on the dollar for the panty wearing lady prisoners and earn herself a pretty profit just like the corporate fucks she was being imprisoned by.
Overall, season three was entertaining and well written, but Piper’s character has truly taken a turn for the worst. It is unclear how season four will karmically bestow retribution on Piper, something she is too dim witted to realize.