Orange Is the New Black is an American web series, a blend of drama and comedy. It is based on true incidents narrated in Piper Kerman’s autobiography- “Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison”. She narrates her experience at a minimum-security federal prison at the FCI Danbury. The series has attracted many critics and fans binge-watching the series. However, Natasha Frost of Northeastern University shares a different view.
Frost is an associate professor at Northeastern’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. She is of the notion that the increase in female incarceration has resulted in the popularity of the show in the U.S. The country’s rate of male incarceration has considerably decreased over the years, while the rate of female incarceration has comparatively dovetailed. The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report that stated that the number of females arrested increased by 18 per cent between 2010 and 2014, while that of the male population decreased by 3 per cent.
Frost has been closely involved with the Women’s Prison Association where she studied the variations in punitiveness towards women. She noticed that the incarcerated women were all put into one prison and there was a lack of recreational activities in women’s prisons. She saw how the states do not employ any new law to prevent pregnant women prisoners from getting shackled up.
Even though she isn’t an avid viewer of the show, she states that the show showcases the reality of prison life in it. She says, “Orange Is the New Black delves into the less glamorous, more realistic side to imprisonment, I think it’s portrayed in a more complex way than some other shows.” Frost says that certain misconceptions tend to build up in people’s minds regarding how prisoners might be. They start to fear them, while they might just appear as normal people, not like the ones depicted on the TV screen.
Frost wishes to start a new research where she wants to identify high levels of stress in correction officers. The study will be conducted in six different prisons in Massachusetts and she hopes to find out a concrete solution to one of the most stressful occupations.