Fix the Orange is the New Black Jail



Scenes from Orange is the New Black are filmed at Riverhead jail in Suffolk County. Luckily for its star-studded cast, they get to go home at night.

What you don’t see on screen are the actual people who are forced to live in the jail’s inhumane and disgusting conditions. Prisoners describe actual floods of human feces; inescapable growths of thick, black mold; constant insect infestations; and brown water that smells “like a cesspool”. The conditions are so deplorable that their skin grows bumps, changes colors, flakes and bleeds.

New Yorkers are wearing orange to stop the abusive conditions at the real OITNB jail. Get involved at #HumanityistheNewBlack

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Orange is the New Black shines an important spotlight on the hardships and indignities of prison life. But sometimes real life is too horrific for television. At the real OITNB jail:

  • A feces flood lasted 30 hours. Former prisoner Jason Porter described crowding onto a small table with his fellow prisoners for 30 hours while rivers of human waste 6-inches deep flooded the jail floor after toilets exploded, spraying human feces and urine as high as the ceiling.
  • Pipes leak asbestos and air reeks of feces urine and mold.
  • Brown drinking water causes stomach aches, cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • More disgusting conditions…

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Unlike the characters on OITNB, most people at the OITNB jail haven’t been convicted of a crime. Many are poor people who can’t afford to pay bail.

But no matter how they got to Riverhead, each and every person who is housed there is having their constitutional rights violated.

County officials have allowed the horrendous conditions to persist for years. The NYCLU first filed a lawsuit against Suffolk County on behalf of 100 detainees in its jails April 2012. Instead of fixing the disgusting and inhumane conditions, the county has been fighting tooth and nail.

Even now that Riverhead is in the spotlight, the county still won’t make its jails meet standards of basic human decency.

Don’t forget the real people forced to endure the conditions at the OITNB jail. Tell Suffolk County it must clean up its jails.