Last season’s Orange Is the New Black had a storyline that addressed the epidemic of cops killing unarmed black people, and it looks like Season 5 will also take a page from reality: In the trailer for the new season, the ladies of Litchfield appear to be protesting their unsafe and inhumane living conditions. As Taystee (Danielle Brooks) puts it: “We get beat for no reason, we stuffed four in a bunk like we factory chickens. We’re denied basic humanity.”
Real life inmates, of course, have been striking all over the country in order to protest their own situations in mostly privately-owned prisons, in what has become the largest prison strike America has ever seen. Conditions have gotten so bad in some prisons that even guards have joined inmates in their cause, as was the case in September at Alabama’s Holman Correctional Center; another in that same state is “notorious” for its solitary confinement system and alleged abuse and neglect.
Of course, the election of Donald Trump casts a shadow over gains made, as Trump is certainly friendly to the types of private prisons that standardize and employ such deplorable conditions for profit. But if pop culture can affect change, then let it be something like this—a popular Netflix show bringing to light an issue that deserves more attention than it necessarily gets. I really look forward to hearing what the writers and actors have to say about this in the press push. It’s on Netflix June 9.