America’s Prison Obsession

Come join us at 1 the Montgomery branch on May 7th to discuss Orange is the New Black.When I was growing up I would listen to songs by singers who glamorized going to jail. As time went on they faded away, now there is the hit Netflix series, Orange is the New Black obsession that has taken America by storm. Why is going to jail become a “good” thing? The show Orange is the New Black is a comedy after all, so does that make prison funny? For me neither of these two things are correct.

When I was a senior in high school, I was taking a law class. Part of the class was going to a jail to see how they ran things. In order to go to the prison we had to sign off on a permission slip that was five pages long. Since, it was a male correctional facility, the girls were encouraged to dress down. Before we left, my classmates and I had to leave any form of metal and food behind. The amount of precaution we had to take before entering the jail was astonishing. We had to talk to the guards as they gave us a low down on what it was like and to ignore any of the prisoners who talked to us. We had to go through metal detectors and turn over anything that they deemed offensive, even small things such as a pen.

A Cell In Alcatraz Prison. By RicardMN PhotographyLet me go back a little bit to when the school bus had arrived at the jail. Once the bus turned the corner, we saw some of the prisoners standing outside playing a game of basketball. The entire bus went dead with silence. You could hear a pin drop inside the bus before we exited. When we got off, we received the instructions like I said, then we were given a tour of the prison. One of the rooms they showed us was the cell block. This was the scariest room of all. The prisoners were locked up in their rooms with tiny windows to see out of. Although, we got to go inside a room, by the time we left I felt like an animal in the zoo. Pretty much all of the prisoners had their faces pressed up against the wall. The one thing I am going to touch on is that the toilet was in the room with a sink. There was no private showering area, just a stall with a curtain and a door. That was it! There was no private changing room like they showed on Orange is the New Black. This was nothing like the singers had sung about in their songs and showed off in their music videos. It was a completely different world from what Hollywood shows us.

Michigan's most haunted prison has an insanely dark past.Onto the final stage of the prison visit, my classmates and I got to talk to some of the prisoners. Their were five of them and their offenses ranged from armed robbery to murder. Upon hearing their stories about what jail was like it opened my eyes a little more. We got to ask questions and many of the questions were asked again and again, such as do you think your sentenced was fair? With the exception of one, they all agreed that their sentence was fair. As they talked about their experience they ask the question of why Hollywood has glamorized going to prison. They tells us that real life jail is nothing like they show us on television. They told us about getting up in the morning, getting crappy food to eat, and having to be assigned boring jobs. Their was no freedom where they are. They don’t get to walk around freely like they show in music videos. The reality of jail is far from what kids are shown these days.

America has become obsessed with prison through the media. Going to jail and getting a record is not a good thing, as you will probably have an uphill battle from their. In Orange is the New Black that subject is touched upon. However, in many episodes the life in prison is shown to be somewhat enjoyable not boring. The singers and songwriters who made it big after prison are the ones who had gotten lucky. After, becoming hooked on Orange is the New Black (yes, I am) and remembering this trip brings back all the fictionalization of prison life. Prison life is something that is far from enjoyable, you don’t have any freedom. Just remember that.


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