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Litchfield Penitentiary is the primary setting of Orange is the New Black. It houses both a minimum-security prison (where the events of the show take place) and a maximum-security prison. In Seasons One and Two, it was run by the Federal Department of Corrections. After a threatened closure in Season Three, Caputo was able to convince MCC, a private corporation that specializes in prisons, to invest in it so that it could remain open. It is located in upstate New York, near Albany. The minimum-security part of the prison housed about 250 inmates before Litchfield's expansion in Season Four. The maximum-security part houses an unknown amount of inmates. Just beyond the grounds is a lake.
Minimum Security PrisonEdit
Minimum Security is typically home to inmates convicted of nonviolent, white collar crimes, though there are many exceptions. Additionally, many older inmates who have lengthily served in maximum security can be transferred to minimum security for good behavior.
Life at the Camp Edit
When inmates first arrive, they are requisitioned minimal basic items, such as a scant few toiletries and the ubiquitous orange outfits. After a period, they receive the regular tan clothes. They do not, however, receive footwear for the showers, which is necessary to avoid fungal infections. All other items inmates are allowed are available at the commissary.
New inmates are also assigned a temporary bunk. Their more permanent "living quarters" will be assigned after a brief period.
All inmates must hold jobs within the prison, apart from the elderly inmates and those excused for medical reasons. This was changed in Season Four, due to an influx of new inmates and MCCs unwillingness to pay each new inmate the 11 cents per hour they earn from jobs. Jobs are now a precious priviledge and inmates who do not have jobs and do not have anyone on the outside to transfer money to their commissary account have no way to even buy the most basic necessities, such as tampons.
When meeting visitors, inmates are only allowed two hugs: once upon greeting and once before their visitor departs. No other touching is allowed.
Furloughs (periods of authorised leave under special circumstances) are so rare that most inmates do not believe anybody will ever get one. However, Piper Chapman was granted one when her grandmother died in Season Two. This led to a lot of bad feeling towards her from inmates who had previously been denied Furlough to visit closer relatives; for example, Poussey Washington was not permitted to visit her dying mother.
Notable Locations Edit
Administration Offices Edit
These offices are for the correctional officers employed at Litchfield. However, not all officers have private offices. Caputo, Healy and Rogers have separate offices, which in Healy's and Rogers' case are used for counseling with the inmates. The other COs have a shared lunch room and there are dressing rooms for male and female officers.
Visitors Area Edit
A small room allocated for inmates meeting with visitors from outside the prison. The room is filled with small tables with at least two chairs around them; one for the inmate and one for the visitors. Whenever an inmate has numerous visitors at a time, more chairs are added around the table. Inmates are not allowed to physically touch their visitors during visitation, although quick hugs at the beginning and end of the visit are allowed. Multiple COs stand by the door to the visitors area.
There is also a conservative Visitor Dress Standard to "enhance a family atmosphere":
- Visitors must be fully clothed;
- Visitors must wear shoes or sandals;
- Dresses and/or skirts, including slits in the garments, shall cover the kneecap when standing;
- Capri pants are allowed but they are defined as mid-calf in length;
- Buttons and zippers must remain fastened;
- Adults and physically-mature minor female visitors must wear a bra and undergarments
Temporary Bunks Edit
When prisoners first arrive in Litchfield, they are put in a temporary bunk until they can be assigned a bunk and transferred to a regular cell block. Some inmates always have to stay in temporary bunks due to their physical condition.
Inmates permanently living in temporary bunks:
Cell Blocks Edit
Referred to by the inmates and COs as "dorms" or "cubes", the cell blocks are inmate sleeping areas that are generally separated by race.
Each race has its own cell block and name:
- White - "The Suburbs" - Cell Block A
- Black - "The Ghetto" - Cell Block B
- Hispanic - "Spanish Harlem" - Cell Block C
Cell Blocks D and E have not yet been shown, but inmates who are housed there may be part of the "Others" or "Golden Girls".
Each dorm is subdivided into an area for two inmates. Within these sections, each inmate gets a locker and a metal bunk with a mattress, pillow, sheet and blanket.
These sections are surrounded by low (between 5 and 6 feet or 3 and 4 feet) walls made of cinder blocks and are open to a main walkway.
At the end of Season Three, new bunk beds are showed being installed into the cubicles whilst the inmates are not present, meaning that there are now four inmates to a section, instead of two ("Trust No Bitch").
Personal care area for the inmates, equipped with showers. sinks and toilets, most of which are without doors in Season One. Inmates often have to take quick showers due to the lack of hot water, and most wear flip-flops on their feet to avoid fungal infections. New inmates do not get given flip-flops and have to improvise, such as Piper Chapman wearing sanitary pads secured with rubber bands, or Sophia Burset constructing slip-ons from duct tape as commissary does not stock her size. Many inmates are comfortable walking around naked, and sexual encounters sometimes happen in the showers.
Hair Salon Edit
Where inmates can go to get their hair cut or styled either by Burset, who enjoys the work she is doing, or by Danita, who has yet to make an appearance in the show.
Better known as solitary or SHU, the security housing unit is an isolation ward that is located separately from the main cell blocks.
For a list of current or former inhabitants of the SHU see here.
Referred to as "Psych" by the inmates, the psychiatric ward is used to house mentally unstable inmates. It is described as being a hole that can't be climbed out of, although some inmates do get to leave and return to the general prison populus.
For a list of current or former patients of Psych see here.
The chapel is the religious center of Litchfield, and serves all major denominations as well as minor ones, which may include Wicca or druidism. As a place of relative silence from the rest of the prison, it is used frequently by many inmates for sexual engagement. During Christmas, the inmates held their Christmas show in the chapel.
The cafeteria is arguably the most dramatic spot in Litchfield, as it is a common area for all cliques and dorms. The room is very large with long tables and chairs for the inmates to eat at.
TV Room Edit
The TV room is used as a smaller recreation room. There is, of course, a wall-mounted television. The tables and chairs can be used for card or board games, or can be moved against the walls (they are not secured to the floor).
Recreation Room Edit
The yard is the primary recreational facility for the inmates. It has a basketball court and a track, which must be manned by correctional officers to be used. However, due to supposed limited funding, they are unable to be staffed and go unused most of the time. Running is not permitted in the yard, however brisk walks are acceptable.
The Golden Girls refurbished the neglected greenhouse, then started a small garden using a tiny portion of the yard.
Inmates are expected to work while staying at Litchfield. There are several jobs at Litchfield, where the hourly wage is usually 11 cents per hour.
After MCC's takeover and Litchfield's expansion, a lot of the new inmates are unable to get a job.
Inmates who work in janitorial work throughout the entire facility collecting trash, cleaning floors (and, presumably, walls). The least favorite part of the job seems to be finding, handling and disposing of hair from the showers. (The most popular part seems to be finding the most colorful and descriptive word for the hair clumps.)
See janitors here.
Electrical Shop Edit
The electric shop is run by CO Joel Luschek, a slacker who under-performs and somehow retains his job. Inmates working in electrical are the prison's repair force, fixing appliances ranging from small table lamps to the large industrial-sized dryers for laundry, or doing mundane tasks such as changing lightbulbs. Training consists of reading individual manuals for broken units and wandering through huge electronic textbooks with no guidance whatsoever. Tools are provided as needed, but must be returned at the end of every shift.
See electrical workers here.
Before privatization, the kitchen was a more favorable position at Litchfield, as most of the work was unskilled yet something many of the inmates may have had experience with, such as preparing or serving food. After privatization, the job became more about moving boxes of food than preparing or serving any of it as MCC switched to pre-prepared food. Meals came in very large sealed bags (at least three gallons by volume) and only required heating by submerging the bag in boiling water, removing after a prescribed amount of time, then dumping the contents into a stainless steel pan for serving.
Running the kitchen has alternated between Red and Gloria. Red used to run the kitchen before getting caught smuggling. Gloria, who has a very strict non-smuggling policy, replaced her, but quit when the COs wouldn't allow any leniency in her schedule so that she could see her son during visitation.
Now, it seems they share all responsibilities, except taking the blame for the quality of the food, which no one seems to like, much less want anything to do with.
See kitchen staff here.
Inmates working laundry are responsible for washing, drying, folding, and holding for pickup, the prisoner's clothing. They apparently also wash CO clothing. The laundry room is large and is stocked with numerous washing machines and tables.
Inmates working in laundry may also wash the MAX uniforms, since they are seen washing jumpsuit uniforms, which are not worn on the show.
See laundresses here.
Before privatization, all the library's shelves were filled, and included law books, which inmates could use to work on their cases. Many books were burned when the prison became infested with bedbugs (the exception being the Qur'an, which the COs were apparently too afraid to burn). After privatization, the shelves are mostly bare and consist of donated odd and random titles due to MCC's reluctance to spend money replacing them.
There is a desktop computer that may or may not be connected to the internet because it may or may not work. It has a sign taped to it that informs everyone that it is out of order. Piper found a cellphone and charger hidden in the tower.
See librarians here.
The commissary is where inmates can purchase items, such as feminine hygiene products. Any item not available for purchase is considered contraband. The wages earned through their jobs at Litchfield as well as any amount added from outside sources (ie: a friend or family member) are held in each inmate's "bank" (or account) and can be used to purchase items at the commissary. A hold of two weeks, however, is put on monies coming from outside sources. Mei Chang is the current inmate in charge of selling the goods to other inmates.
See commissary workers here.
Sewing Factory Edit
One of the first changes MCC brought to Litchfield was the introduction of privately contracted inmate labor. The new employment opportunity was introduced to the inmates with no other detail except the $1/hour wage. Inmates were told they had to take a test and the new assignments would be posted on a bulletin board. Once inside a previously unused warehouse, the inmates discovered they would be making lingerie for the intimate apparel company, Whispers. Piper came up with an idea to make extra underwear from scrap fabric and "smuggle" them out once work was finished. She asked inmates around the prison to start wearing these knickers and give them back to her used, so they could be shipped out of the prison and sold to perverts who wanted dirty underwear. The business plan spread and even a CO got involved by acting as the mule.
The entire Whispers factory staff was replaced after Maria Ruiz' rival pantie business was discovered in Season Four. No inmates followed on the show currently work there.
See Whispers employees here.
Transportation is how inmates are released and taken into the prison, or transferred to and from Maximum Security. Trips are also taken to stores or to transport prisoners to hospital visits. The van is driven by an inmate and accompanied by one or more COs.
See van drivers here.
When the smuggled panties are discovered in Maria Ruiz's bunk, all current inmates working in the Whispers factory are fired to be replaced by a new, more "trustworthy" team. The old Whispers workers are taken to work for construction with no pay, under the guise of it being a "training" role. They are not told what they're building, but Fig reveals to Caputo in "The Animals" that the building they create is going to be used as a new dorm so that MCC can cram even more prisoners into Litchfield. Leon McDonald, the leader of the construction team, is found very attractive by most of the straight female inmates on the construction crew.
See construction workers here.
Regular Events Edit
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Yoga class
- Safe Place (formerly)
- Berdie Rogers' drama class (formerly)
- The Annual Christmas Pageant
- Judy King's cooking class
The expertise and calibre of the COs has declined rapidly since MCC's takeover and in particular after the experienced guards walked out in protest of their treatment at the end of Season Three. New COs are typically veterans, as they afford MCC a tax break. The training of COs has also declined, with staff typically being given very minimal on-the-job training, and instead being told to "read the staff handbook".
Other staff include counselors and an on-site nurse and chaplain in office hours.
CO Housing Edit
After the original guards' walk out, MCC decides to hire veterans in "Power Suit" so that they can get a tax break, but need to offer something as the budget doesn't allow for good pay. Caputo suggests fixing up the houses just off camp that used to house COs. This is also where Kukudio and Crazy Eyes go when they run away after being at the lake in "Work That Body For Me".
Prison Rules Edit
The following rules apply to inmates in Minimum Security:
- Inmates are not allowed to wear make-up, though this is rarely enforced.
- There is to be no running in or outside of the building, with the exception of the running track, when it is open.
- There is an alarm that sounds when an adverse event occurs, upon which all inmates are required to lie prone on the floor where they are until the alarm stops.
- Inmates are not permitted to take food out of the dining hall.
- Inmates are not permitted to receive any other clothing or items that aren't books or innocent photos from people outside the prison.
- Contraband is forbidden and generally includes any item not purchased from the commissary or made by the inmate. It also includes any item that is made by the inmates that could be considered dangerous, such as a shank. Alcohol, drugs and cigarettes are also forbidden.
- Phone time is limited and at specific times of the day. All outgoing calls must be on the prisoners' approved call list.
- Visiting time is limited and all visitors must be on the prisoners' approved visitation list.
- Courtesy to COs must be honored at all times and prisoners must follow the instructions of Litchfield Staff.
Minor Events that caused temporary shut-downs Edit
Under normal conditions, whenever a person is missing, alarm sound and all inmates must immediately cease all activities and lay on the ground, face down, their palms flat. All inmates must remain prone until an "all-clear" signal is given by corrections officers.
However, this section describes extraordinary events that occurred which necessitated the partial or complete shut-down of portions, or in rare instances, the entire facility.
|Events that have caused a temporary shut-down of Litchfield Penitentiary|
In part or in whole
|Event||Areas effected||What was affected?||How long||CO Actions taken||Episode(s)|
|Major storm||Entire prison||Several sections of the roof leaked and plumbing/electricity was off for the entire facility||2 or 3 days||All inmates were moved into the cafeteria and were forced to use buckets for waste elimination.||"It Was the Change"|
|Raw sewage backed into one of the bathrooms||B-dorm bathroom||All plumbing for the unit, including showers, toilets and sinks||Several weeks||All inmates' shower schedules were altered to accommodate the ones who were assigned to "B"; B-dorm bathroom was completely off limits until repairs were made.||"Low Self Esteem City" to "Take a Break From Your Values"|
|Bed Bug infestation||Initially one dorm, but eventually to the entire prison||All inmates clothing and bedding; all carpeted areas of the prison; all library books had to be inspected. Books and mattresses were subsequently burned, the exception being a bug-riddled Quran.||uncertain||All inmates were forced to wear only a bra and panties as their regular beige clothing was confiscated. Inmates wore paper jumpsuits, but supply was limited. Those who missed out were forced to improvise, such as Alex Vause, who wore a large garbage bag fashioned into a poncho of sorts.||"Bed Bugs and Beyond"|
|Murder of a CO||Entire prison||Prison went on lockdown when the body was discovered and all inmates had to remain the their bunks||uncertain||With Caputo absent, the veteran COs became abusive, bullying and interrogating the prisoners and not allowing them to use the bathroom||"People Persons" to "Toast Can't Never Be Bread Again"|
Litchfield Penitentiary also houses a maximum security prison on its property, for inmates with more serious offenses. It is often referred to by inmates as "max". Maximum security is down the hill from the camp, as seen in "Empathy is a Boner Killer". The prison is reserved for the inmates of minimum security who have acted violently, smuggled or used drugs, or other serious offenses. Until Season Four, it was unseen on Orange is the New Black, though many inmates are seen being transferred there. It makes it first appearance in "Piece of Shit".
For a list of inmates that have been sent from minimum security to maximum security, see here.