Thursday, July 16, 2015

Orange is the New Black Fans: Read This Essay, Be Aware of the Reality of Women's Prisons

Posted By on Thu, Jul 16, 2015 at 2:30 PM

Ms. Magazine just published an essay written by one of them women who served time in prison alongside Piper Kerman. After a relatively short prison sentence, Kerman wrote about the experience in her book Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison, the book the popular television show of a similar name was based on. 

Beatrice Codianni, the former prisoner who penned the essay, says the television shop changed more than the main character's last name. Codianni said that while the book was an accurate portrayal of Danbury, Litchfield's real-world inspirtaion, she had to give up on the Netflix series two seasons in.

You should read the whole thing, but here's a snippet

When I learned that there would be a Netflix series based on OITNB, I couldn’t wait to watch it. I stopped watching it early on in the second season though, because sadly, the series doesn’t reflect the women in the camp as I know them.
For example, the visiting room scenes do not adequately portray the pain that permeates the room as mothers and their children are forced to sit side-by-side and not touch or comfort each other. The Bureau of Prisons used to hold a family day where children and their parents could spend hours together in a less restrictive environment and touch and play. This humane visitation day has since been cancelled by the BOP.

The series doesn’t show how many nonviolent women who were given harsh mandatory-minimum sentences are denied the right to become mothers because their childbearing years were stolen from them. The series doesn’t show how a male gynecologist was so rough giving pelvic exams to women who had not been sexually active in years that women refused PAP smears because of the pain he inflicted.

The series doesn’t show how in 2013, despite the BOP’s “mission” of keeping people in prison within 500 miles from their homes, the BOP decided to shut down the only federal correctional institution for women in the northeast to convert it to a male prison. The women were being sent to Alabama—over 1,100 miles away.

About The Author

Chelo Grubb

Bookworm, cat lady, journalism enthusiast.
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