All Articles Tagged "women in prison"

Who Knew Prison Could Be So…Funny? Why You Need “Orange Is The New Black” In Your Life

July 24th, 2013 - By Clarke Gail Baines
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Orange Is The New Black

When I first heard about Orange Is The New Black, I was reading Shadow and Act. They had done a piece on the new Netflix series before it debuted, showing you the trailer so you could get a glimpse at what to expect. Of course, before even watching one episode, those commenting had decided that it was racist. If it wasn’t racist, it was another story where an innocent little white woman has to deal with the crazies–black women. Checking out the trailer and reading all the comments that day in June, I could have have gone with the consensus and avoided the show, but being that I had watched enough ’90s movies and revamped Arrested Development episodes through my Netflix subscription, I decided to have my own opinions and watch the show for myself.

Thank goodness I did. For some reason, the trailer didn’t do the actual series justice. In less than a week I’ve finished the entire first season. My co-worker watched the season like a G and finished it within one weekend. For a series that so far is 13 hours+ long, it was over before I knew it and just that quick, I miss it already. Why? Because it was nice to see such a diverse group of women, with just a few men (of course they were in positions of power, power they often abused), acting a hot damn mess. But I assume that’s what prison probably does to a person…

Despite what folks had to say before the show even started in that article I read, this isn’t a black and white show. It’s a black, white, Hispanic, old, religious, LGBTQ and a little crazy show that tells the stories of women we often don’t get to see on television. The fact that it’s based off of a true story (that of Piper Kerman, whose memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, inspired the show) makes it all the more compelling. Every hot mess of a woman is relatable and even likable, even when you dare to give them the side-eye. And what makes them even more relatable is the fact that for most of the women, you actually find out their back stories. The insecurities that pushed them into foolish and dangerous positions that inevitably put them in prison. The drug and alcohol addictions. The family drama or lack of a family to have drama with. Maybe most prevalent of a reason, the want to fit in and receive respect. It’s the thing that pushes a lot of the characters to starve one another out at lunchtime, to act like complete jerks so as to not appear soft and be taken advantage of, and to stick with their own kind. But when the main character of Piper, a privileged bisexual white woman who doesn’t really have direction and blames her drama on others arrives (not a ditsy character, an actually cool but self-absorbed chick), just as she is, a foolish smarty-pants, and extremely vulnerable, in the end, she actually causes a change to happen in the women around her in one way or another. Ironically, it’s Piper who snaps and becomes something out of an episode of Lockup by the last five minutes of season one’s finale while her cohorts come out of their shells and come together (and they do so to celebrate Jesus).

You have so many choices when it comes to watching shows and movies online and on Netflix, but I feel so motivated to recommend this show because it’s hilarious and real at the same time. There are cringe-worthy moments, including some of the racist jokes used by different groups (usually not to the face of the women they’re joking about), and the behavior by one C.O. Mendez, aka, “P**nstache.” However, all of that foolery adds to the show. Midway through the season, the women, once separated by groups that defined them, find themselves coming together to celebrate releases, to mourn deaths, and to drop it like it’s really hot in the middle of a cafeteria when Kelis’ “Milkshake” randomly comes on. In the end, you’ll have a few characters you’ll love (Tastee, Poussey, Piper, Red, Miss Claudette and Crazy Eyes are my faves), and a few you won’t be able to stand (evangelist Pennsatucky), a few whose change in mentality will make them endearing (Daya’s mom and Big Boo Black), and you might get a little too inspired by prison culture and the show you’re watching and maybe start wanting folks “offed” (that’s for you Officer Mendez!). And you’ll also be glad you got to see so many talented women on-screen who probably wouldn’t get a shot on some of the stale network shows that get Emmy noms in magazine covers. But most of all, you’ll probably want to watch the whole damn thing one mo’ gin. Season two please?

Drop In Black Incarceration: Fewer African-American Women In Prison, According to New Study

March 1st, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Usually the news concerning African Americans and the U.S. prison population is disheartening. But according to a new report by The Sentencing Project, the percentage of African-American women compared to white women behind bars dropped nearly in half between 2000 and 2009. The Sentencing Project is a nonprofit organization that works for fair sentencing and prison reform.

“The good news in this report is that [though these are] problems that many people viewed as seemingly intractable, it appears that we can make progress as a society on those issues,” Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project, told The Huffington Post. 

According to the “The Changing Racial Dynamics of Women’s Incarceration” report, which is based on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2000, black women were incarcerated in state and federal prisons at six times the rate of white women. But a little less than a decade later — in 2009 — that ratio had declined by 53 percent. This drastic decrease was, says the report, a result of both declining incarceration of African-American women and rising incarceration of white women.

There were reduced incarceration and arrests among African-American women who committed drug offenses and violent crimes. “At the same time, the project found rising imprisonment of white women for similar misconduct,” writes HuffPo. “The rates are far too high for any society, but nonetheless the numbers are going in the right direction,” Mauer explained to HuffPo.

In general, according to the Sentencing Project more whites–men and women–are in prison and it may be due to meth drug arrests. According to the New York Times (via Business Insider), the report also found a major spike in incarceration rates for white men and women. The rate for white women increased 47.1 percent for white women and 8.5 percent for white men. Possible contributors to this shift, Mauer said, are decreasing arrest rates for blacks, “the rising number of whites and Hispanics serving mandatory sentences for methamphetamine abuse, and socioeconomic shifts that have disproportionately affected white women.”

Overall, women currently constitute seven percent of the prison population, according to the study.

If He Loved You, He Wouldn’t Ask You To….10 Things You Should Never Do For a Man

December 23rd, 2012 - By Brooke Dean
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For some women, there is nothing they wouldn’t do for their man. Although love should be unconditional, many women feel the need to prove their love to a man, even if it means compromising their beliefs, safety or even their freedom to show them what a “down A$$ chick” they are. However, a man who truly loves you will never ask you to do anything you’re uncomfortable doing in order to prove your love to him.  Your love and devotion should simply be enough, and couples who share true love will never have to prove anything to each other. However, if your man begins a sentence with, “If you loved me, you’d…,” run because most likely, nothing good can come of it. Showing your love shouldn’t be shameful, painful, humiliating or illegal, and while you may think you’re assuaging his insecurities, you’re actually just allowing him to manipulate you. Think there is no limit to showing him how far you’ll go to prove your love? Think again. Here are 10 things no woman should do for a man, simply because he asks her to.

Cannibal Killer of Husband Denied Parole

October 6th, 2011 - By Alexis Garrett Stodghill
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By Brande Victorian

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Recounting details of one of the most disturbing murders of the 1990s, Omaima Nelson, 43, a woman who killed, dismembered, and cooked her husband, was denied parole yesterday. According to the LA Times, testimony from a psychiatrist in the earlier trial said Nelson put on red shoes, a red hat, and red lipstick before chopping up and cooking her husband’s body. She said she prepared his ribs like in a restaurant and said out loud, “It’s so sweet.”

At the parole hearing, Nelson denied the claim: “I swear to God I did not eat any part of him. I am not a monster.” But when Commissioner Cynthia Fritz then asked, “What was your purpose in cooking him?” Nelson did not answer.

Orange County Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Randy Pawloski, who was an original prosecutor in the case, personally attended the hearing at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, stating that Nelson had a pattern of using sex as a con game, and that her games grew increasingly violent over the years. The Egyptian beauty reportedly met William Nelson in 1991 in a bar playing pool. Within weeks they were married, and shortly after Omaima said her husband began to show a violent side. She claimed he was trying to strangle her when she hit him with a lamp, stabbed him with scissors, and killed him. The marriage only lasted three weeks.

“If I didn’t defend my life, I would have been dead. I’m sorry it happened, but I’m glad I lived,” she said.

“I’m sorry I dismembered him.”

Nelson said she was not the same person she was 20 years ago and simply wanted to live the “good life God meant.” She said she had “looked for love in all the wrong places… but now I value my integrity and my journey… I have a strong desire to help others.”

Visits she shared with another deceased former husband, a man in his 70s whom she married while in prison, were cited as evidence of her change of heart. “We had three-day conjugal visits. There were knives in the kitchen. He never felt threatened or endangered in any way,” she said. “I loved him so much.”

William Nelson’s daughter, Margaret, was not moved, reading a written statement about not having her father at her wedding, or being able to introduce him to her 8-week-old daughter. She stated she was at the hearing to “return some human dignity to the man who was my father.”