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Joseph Salvatore Caputo (also known as "Joe" or "Joey") is a main character and the current Director of Human Activities, or the Warden, of Litchfield Penitentiary (Director of HR-MCAA).
Despite his somewhat gruff and lecherous nature, Joe Caputo is an honest man who genuinely cares for the women in his charge. Though he holds a prominent position, Joe is an underdog in the prison because he is "soft" and both staff and prisoners have little respect for him. Like anyone, though, he does have a breaking point and will disregard the needs of others if he feels they have become selfish.
- "You fancy yourself a nice guy, Joe, but you're not. You're a deeply angry and resentful man, because the world hasn't appreciated you the way you think you deserved."
- — Fig to Caputo ("We Can Be Heroes")
He is a balding man, with a walrus mustache that is graying at the ends. He is usually seen wearing a pair of glasses. He also has a large bald spot on the top of his head.
For a list of episodes featuring Caputo's flashbacks, see here.
Before Litchfield Edit
Caputo went by "Joey" as he grew up. He was an accomplished wrestler. However, in 1978 his desire to be friendly to a wrestler with Down's Syndrome backfired when that wrestler pinned him effortlessly, dislocating his shoulder and ending his wrestling career ("We Can Be Heroes").
In later years, Caputo was a part of a band with some friends. In 1991, he had just found out that they were going to be doing a ten-month tour, which the band was really excited about, when his girlfriend Lisa revealed she was pregnant by one of his band mates, Hank. Lisa wanted Caputo to know before Hank, and told him that she could live with her parents whilst he went on tour. However, Caputo insisted that he would stay to support her; he quit his band and intended to marry her.
In order to provide for his family, Caputo got a job as a Corrections Officer at Litchfield.
After the baby was born, Lisa decided to leave Caputo for Hank, due to his apparent success with Caputo's former band ("We Can Be Heroes") and her desire to be a family with her daughter's biological father, who she said she loved more than Caputo.
He is a talented musician, playing bass guitar and singing for an indie rock band called "Side Boob".
Sometimes he masturbates in his office after having meetings with women inmates (for example, after having allowed Piper to make a phone call). DeMarco mentions that he especially likes it when they cry.
He is interested in Corrections Officer Susan Fischer, but she never returns his advances.When Piper starts running a prison newsletter, he considers it as a good way to "communicate with the inmates and explain our side of things" and wants her to write something about the guards of Litchfield to show they are humans, too, which provides him his own front page story he proudly hangs up in his office.
He and Fig are shown having an affair. She accuses Caputo of seeing himself as a "nice guy," when in fact his actions are actually often self-centered. This is illustrated with his efforts to save the prison and his employee's benefits contrasted with a flashback to other times in his life where "being the nice guy" didn't work out for him like he wanted.
Caputo becomes romantically involved with Linda Ferguson, who is in charge of purchasing for MCC. Eventually, it becomes apparent she is not only clueless as to how a prison is run but she is unsympathetic toward the plight of the inmates, and does not see them as human beings. She is responsible for changing his idea for an education program for the inmates into an unpaid physical labor program. Caputo hires Taystee as his secretary. Caputo struggles to keep Desi Piscatella from becoming too power hungry and eventually fires him, but Piscatella refuses to accept it, and puts his own orders for the COs ahead of Caputo's. Seeking solace from the increased chaos and corruption, Caputo visits Natalie Figueroa, who sympathizes with how hard the Warden's job is. She invites him in for a drink and he accepts. That night, Poussey Washington is killed after a peaceful protest spiraled out of control at the prison. Caputo is to make a statement to the media and the inmates assume he will confirm Bayley's arrest. Instead, he defends Bayley and sidelines Poussey entirely, not even stating her name. This sends Taystee into a rage and she incites a prison-wide riot.
Caputo is taken hostage along with all other Litchfield staff. He spends the majority of the riot imprisoned, both in the guard's room and in a port-a-loo. He sympathizes with Taystee's grief and tries to apologize for sidelining Poussey's death in his speech to the media, stating he was trying to prevent another tragedy in Bayley going to jail. He tries to help Gloria gain furlough to see her son in hospital by telling her to call Jack Pearson's office. He is forced to confront Natalie Figueroa when she enters the prison, to try to convince her to meet the inmates demands. He initially stops the guards from ambushing the inmates when he sees Linda is with them, but is later unsympathetic towards her when she attempts to escape the prison. As Linda tries to convince Figueroa that she is an MCC employee, Caputo pretends she is a mentally ill prisoner who thinks she is in charge. The other prisoners support his story. Caputo is eventually allowed to go free with Figueroa and he continues to try to bargain for the inmates demands to be met. He briefly attempts to hook up with Figueroa but they are interrupted. He is extremely frustrated when the SWAT Team announces they're permitted to use deadly force to scope out ten remaining, hidden inmates, after the team does two sweeps of the prison.
- Sam Healy (forced)
- Baxter Bayley
- Piper Chapman
- Red (possibly)
- Danny Pearson
- Sister Ingalls
- Taystee (former)
- Wade Donaldson
- Wanda Bell
- Scott O'Neill
- Eliqua Maxwell
- Charles Ford
- Thomas Humphrey
- Desi Piscatella
- Leanne Taylor
- Angie Rice
- Natalie Figueroa (casual sex) - Joe originally despises Natalie due to her unfair treatment and negligence of the inmates and staff. She performs oral sex on him in Season Two, in exchange for Joe's silence regarding her embezzlement; he fails to mention that he'd already uncovered her until after the event. In Season Three, they are shown to be having an affair. This is partly due to Figueroa's lack of a sex life, because her husband Jason is gay. They are somewhat disgusted in themselves for sleeping together, but also find they relate to each other better than anyone else in their lives. In Season Four, despite having a girlfriend, Joe visits her for the first time in a while, when his job becomes too stressful. He apologizes for misjudging how difficult being a warden is and she accepts his apology, offering sympathy, then invites him inside to talk and have some wine. It is implied they may have hooked up again, as Joe has bite marks on his ear the next day. Figueroa enters the prison during the riot to try to meet the inmates demands. They bring Caputo in to handle negotiations but they mostly get nowhere. Caputo is freed along with Figueroa and he briefly attempts to hook up with her again, but they are interrupted.
- Susan Fischer (unrequited love interest): Joe showed an interest in Susan when she became a CO at Litchfield. When Joe finds out Susan has broken up with her boyfriend, he invites her to see his band perform at a bar. Unaware of his intentions, Susan invites the other CO's as well and ends up spending more time with them and later hooking up with Luschek.
- Linda Ferguson (girlfriend): Joe meets Linda, who is the Director of Purchasing for Litchfield, during a meeting regarding the CO's walkout at the end of Season Three. She proposes they hire veterans to replace them because the government offers tax deductions to companies who give vets jobs. Joe is hoping to get a call from her and asks his new receptionist Taystee if she has contacted the prison at all. Her proposal is accepted by MCC, and Linda celebrates by agreeing to go on a date with Joe. They later attend a correctional facility convention - CorrectiCon - together and, during her panel, Danny Pearson launches into a protest about the corruption at Litchfield. Joe gets into an altercation with him which leads to their arrest. Linda finds this side of Joe attractive and they have sex. Joe is later seen in bed with Linda one morning, pitching an idea to have basic life skill classes for the inmates. Linda is largely disinterested but pitches the idea to MCC, who rework his idea into making the inmates do construction work on a new dorm for incoming prisoners. When Linda and Joe are cooking dinner one night, Crystal Burset shows up at his house, and won't leave until Linda pulls a gun on her. Joe is bewildered but ultimately finds it attractive. After a body is found in the prison yard, Joe travels to MCC to figure out what to do next. He finds Linda waiting in the lobby for him past midnight. He says he needs to go back to the prison but she pressures him to go home instead. She mentions the inmates will be safe behind bars, in their cells, and Joe realises she has no idea how Litchfield's minimum security works. She admits she never found it necessary to visit any prison before and a stunned Joe doesn't respond. He is later shown wide awake in bed, while she sleeps soundly next to him. After an inmate's death, Linda shows up at Litchfield for the first time, to be there for Joe when he gives his speech to news stations about it. She isn't overly affected by the tragedy. As Joe is getting makeup done, Linda notices bite marks on his ear and is unimpressed.
- Caputo's computer password is "sideboobrulez".
- He has a small cross tattoo on the little finger of his left hand.
- People in high-school called him "Beer Can" due to the shape of his penis. Fig then begins mockingly using this nickname during their affair.