But Healy's far from the only criminal correctional officer. Trading blow for blow jobs, Pornstache is a one-man prison profiteer. Bennett, one of the more sympathetic guards, engages in a sincere but still inappropriate relationship with one of the prisoners—and uses his authority to punish her when their relationship sours. Caputo instructs Fischer, one of his new guards, "You maintain your authority. You remind them who's in charge. . . . It helps if you don't use their names. Just say, ‘Inmate,' like they're all the same to you. It reminds them they're not really people." Kindhearted Fischer is the exception that proves the rule.

With a defunct GED program and a severely curtailed jobs program, Litchfield has no chance at offering its inmates rehabilitation, the objective that 18th-century thinkers such as Jeremy Bentham held up in advocating for a system of mass incarceration. (The modern prison system was intended as an improvement over public beheadings.) But as Orange Is the New Black shows, the consequence of incarceration is the flagrant and widespread abuse of power. Prisoners are punished for their crimes with other crimes. As the cases of Healy, Pornstache, Caputo and prison administrator Natalie Figueroa demonstrate, power needn't be absolute to corrupt absolutely. Since prisons can't function without an imbalance of power between the guards and prisoners, Kohan's series illustrates how incarceration is an invitation to injustice. Orange doesn't offer any alternatives to incarceration—and its criticisms are easier to make within a minimum-security prison such as Litchfield—but the series definitively proves the prison system to be much more unjust than any inmate's crime.

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© 2013 Lionsgate
© 2013 Lionsgate

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