Table of Contents
Theoretical perspectives on women and the CJ system
There has been a growing interest to investigate the reasons behind the increase in the number of women going to prison. A look at the current trend reveals that there are eight times the number of women behind the prison bars as it were in the early 1980s (Reisner et al., 2014). The criminal justice system has been looking at the structural issues behind the dramatic rise in the incarceration of women and why the women of color have been impacted in a disproportionate manner. The Women’s Prison Association has been at the forefront in researching and advocating for alternative means of the women incarceration. Whenever these women come home after serving their terms, their society lacks sufficient structures and institutions to support them in a bid to be effectively re-incorporated into the society.
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Women in Crime
“Orange is the New Black” has portrayed crime in a different manner that breaks away from the traditional perspectives. For a long period of history, crime scenes have been dominated by men, and this is depicted in shows like “Bad Guys” and Law and Order.” More than eight female characters have been associated with crime in the novel. Red, a female character shifted from been a law abiding store owner to being a criminal conspirator in an outlawed Russian mob which is in control of various smuggling rings. Alex was a high-level dealer in heroin business, and anything threatening the survival of her business would result in death. Sophia, another criminal of African origin is associated with credit card fraud as well as identity theft. Besides, she is accused of abusing a firefighter’s job in order to get the identity. Other women in the crime category include Gloria, Cindy, Aleida, Nicky, Poussey and Pennsatucky who shot a clinic nurse who was doing abortions. All these scenarios amongst others are a clear proof that there is a shift in crime in as far as gender is concerned.
Although the population of prisoners is on the decline, it is worth noting that the number of female prisoners is on the rise. This is a trend that is well reflected in the television series of “Orange is the New Black.” Very few jurisdictions are in a position to implement and sustain programs that are gender responsive as a result of inadequate funding. The implementation of ‘female only’ group to a system that was originally meant for males is not equitable to the gender-specific forms of treatment. Good gender specific programs consider the fact that criminality differs from one gender to the other. Outstanding gender-specific programming should cater for unique cases such as the treatments for drugs and the recovery from trauma. Many of the offenders who are mothers may lack good maternal role models, and if this is not checked, it may result in an intergenerational vicious cycle of abuse.
Delinquency across the Life Span
“Orange is the New Black” has various scenarios that can be associated with the framework behind the Delinquency Prevention and Juvenile Justice Act. A juvenile character in the series would recast the familiar territory in the show in a more poignant manner. There are a number of compelling scenes between young inmates and the Litchfield’s shady guards (Kohan, 2014). These guards were not well trained to talk or work with the kids. Other scenes that show how the delinquency issues are mishandled include the ones involving teenagers and motherly figures such as Sophia and Red. Besides, the youths in the adult jails are more likely to be assaulted physically and sexually by both the guards and the inmates and have been cut off from the access to the appropriate developmental services which have been tailored to meet the requirements of their ages. Delinquency, therefore, seems to have been inadequately addressed in the series which depicts the real situation in the society.
Women, Substance Abuse, and Criminal Justice
The series has shown how women are dealt with in relation to drug abuse. Tricia had an addiction that eventually leads to an overdose. In an attempt to get high, Leanne and Angie were chugging nutmeg whenever there were blackouts in prison. The female drug offenders often spent more than seven years in prison for reasons such as being unable to afford a private attorney. Because of the cocaine’s lucrative illegal business, the arrest of a dealer results to the creation of a new job in the society. When these women get out of prison and into the society that brands them with a criminal record, they struggle to adapt to the society and above all, secure a job. The criminal justice system needs to realize that women need counseling as well as medical help instead of putting them behind bars. Women’s criminal activities should not be excused through the references to history; instead, the citizens need to question whether the government is using the prisons to contain the misfits and the inconvenient people.
The Prison Environment
The prison environment in the play portrays men as super-predators while women are innocent victims that have been doomed by various circumstances. The flashbacks in the series show the past histories of each inmate in a tragic melodrama. A part from a few characters such as Vee and Rosa, the majority of women in prison have put themselves in trouble as a result of a tragic inadequacy of love. These are some of the solid facts to support the idea that women need more counseling instead of having them arrested and jailed. This is a call to the prison system in the country to reevaluate the way correctional measure are presently perceived. Besides, there is a need to advocate for pro-social values that inhibit the potentials of committing crimes as a preventive measure.
Rape is an issue of concern that is evident in the series. It is worth noting that the issue is approached from a different angle and intertwined with forgiveness instead of brutal revenge to bring about normalcy. The series is a true depiction of the world of our own. Despite the fact that some victims in Litchfield may now look fit for the society, they have flawed characters. For example, Pennsatucky is both a murderer and at the same time, one might sympathize with her for being a rape victim. She can, therefore, be considered as a victim and a villain, two things that cannot cancel each other. The interplay between Donuts and Pennsatucky further brings out the situation in which one has to go through when one is seeking for forgiveness and giving it to others. Other characters who adopt the forgiveness view are Alex Vause, Caputo, Luschek and Brook (Schwan, 2016).
Wife and Partner Abuse
The series has also brought out issues revolving around wife and partner abuses. Woman are not in any way safe from the patriarchal society where the women’s voices are silenced. As a result of this, women have to remain quiet whenever they undergo the various forms of abuses which the traditional society considers are appropriate. Pennsatucky was unable to find out what had happened to her and to a certain point, she considers what she went through as normal and that she deserved it. She even thought that Donut was using rape as an awkward way to show affection. Pennsatucky was caught in a dilemma and could not choose between impulsively avoiding and impulsively confronting her lover. Attempts to readjust and be comfortable around him again failed because it felt like it was prickling her conscience. Her lover would further get so scared and be hyper vigilant in ensuring her personal space is not interfered. Donut remains to be a rapist who is using denial as a defense mechanism
The series, “Orange is the New Black” clearly brings out gendered ideas that are stereotyped in nature. The victimization of women is mostly sexual in nature. A good example of sexual victimization can be derived from the triangle between the correction officer, Daya, and Bennett. George Mendez is found of sexually assaulting the inmates which is against the law. Inmates cannot consent to correctional officers and whatever they went through can only be deemed as sexual abuse and rape. Prison rape as well as other forms of sexual victimization have negative psychological and physical effects on the victims and should thus be eliminated. Women who have undergone sexual abuse and other forms of victimization live in fear of a similar event happening again in the future. Through condoning the prison rape, the levels of violence are likely to be heightened, and thus the government incurs an additional cost in the health care sector (Iroh et al., 2015). The risk of recidivism is also increased, and thus, the issue should be given a multifaceted approach.
We can do it today.
Restorative Justice and Female Victims and Offenders
Restorative justice as a contemporary measure to deal with the cases in court in a manner that promotes truth telling. In this context, social justice is attained through a healing mechanism that caters for not just the offended but also the offender through the involvement of the whole community. The female prisoners in the series have been treated in a manner that is in total incongruence to the principals of restorative justice. Although the women may be queer and violent, they are depicted as being sympathetic. This might be considered as a feminist strategy in a series that is condescending to the women while at the same time reinforcing archaic and destructive attitudes towards their male counterparts (Wormer & Bartollas, 2000).
The female victims and offenders in the play show the effects of looking down upon the restorative justice pillars. At the same time, valuable lessons can be drawn from the events that unfold in the play. It is for this reason that an argument was made that the way to approach the crime issue is advocating for pro-social values. Besides, the women should not be taken to prisons and if they have to, they ought to be protected from the various forms of abuse pushed for by some of the guards. Once they come out, they should be subjected to counseling and integrated back into the community which initially perceived them as outcasts to be excommunicated. However, it is worth noting that significant measures are being taken to ensure that restorative justice is achieved in the community. Researchers not only need to utilize the primary data from the samples but also from movie series like “Orange is the New Black.”
- Iroh, P. A., Mayo, H., & Nijhawan, A. E. (2015). The HIV care cascade before, during, and after incarceration: a systematic review and data synthesis. American journal of public health, 105(7), e5-e16.
- Reisner, S. L., Bailey, Z., & Sevelius, J. (2014). Racial/ethnic disparities in history of incarceration, experiences of victimization, and associated health indicators among transgender women in the US. Women & health, 54(8), 750-767.
- Schwan, A. (2016). Post-feminism Meets the Women in Prison Genre: Privilege and Spectatorship in Orange Is the New Black. Television & New Media, 17(6), 473-490.
- Van Wormer, K. S., & Bartollas, C. (2000). Women and the criminal justice system. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
- Kohan, J. (2014). Orange is the new black. Studiocanal.