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The Reality of Prison Transfers in “Orange is the New Black”



Inmate Review Orange is the New Black

We discussed on June 10th, the realism of prison life on the hit show, “Orange is the New Black.” The second season’s first episode  revealed again  realistic conditions of prison life. The viewers watched the main character, Piper, awakened during the night for a transfer to another prison. Over the next fifteen minutes, we watched Piper’s fear of the unknown overwhelming her, when the guards refused to discuss her destination. The show depicted accurately inmates struggling to walk and their difficulty eating with their binding chains. Any inmate with experience would have rolled their eyes at Piper not using the toilet in her cell before the rush to the prison van. Five hours later, while on an airplane, two guards watched Piper while she used the toilet.

Let us compare Piper’s transfer to one of my prison transfers in 2011. The following is an excerpt from my still to be completed, prison memoir, “Prisonpath.”

“I am awakened by a guard yelling at me, “Get up, you have 5 minutes to pack up!”

I am stunned for a minute.

My few possessions were tossed into two cardboard boxes that were in a laundry cart outside my cell. I walked quickly to a few cells and tried to say goodbye. The tier officer yelled my name again. I pushed the cart through our housing unit toward the discharge center.  At the discharge center, all of my items were checked for contraband. The correctional officers escorting the inmates ordered all of the inmates to strip and bend over. My lower back was in pain from pushing the laundry cart. I stupidly asked one officer, “Any chance you can make the chain around my waist and back not as tight. My back is killing me.”

Trouble loomed. He responded, “Do you want coffee too?” All of the guards laughed as he made the chain as tight as possible. The correctional officer then asked sarcastically, “Is that comfortable?”

I should have known better than to ask for any help from the escort guards. There was always hostility from this grim escort.

It was hard to climb the bus steps since our ankles were also cuffed with a short chain. The bus finally left the prison. The officer driver made the first curvy exit at a high rate of speed. My body slid from the window to the aisle. I tried to stop the slide, but my body flew off the seat and I landed on the floor of the bus. The chains prevented my getting up from the prison bus’s floor. One young black inmate picked me up by the waist chain that was around my back and neatly placed me back into my seat. He laughed and I thanked him for his kind assistance.”

“Orange is the New Black” has continued to show the realistic conditions of prison life while dramatizing the show.

By Bradley Schwartz
Founder of

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Sue Ellen Allen

I had a mastectomy while in jail and went to the surgery with shackles, belly chain and cuffs. They finally took the shackles off when I got on the operating table. I lost my breast and 28 lymph nodes. Weeks later when I went to court, I had a permit from medical not to cuff my right arm because I was at high risk of lymphoedema, a condition when your arm can swell to enormous proportions and not go down. When I showed the permit to the guard, he threw it in my face and accused me of forgery. Tears… Read more »

arnold hansen

I have no experience of where you are from, but our transportation people are courteous and do not make waist chains tight because it could result in a medical issue later that would inconvenience everyone. PS I am not selling anything