Tag Archives: prison

Meet Catherine Wolters, The Real-Life Alex Vause From “Orange Is The New Black”

vf-catherine-cleary-wolters

If you read Piper Kerman’s memoir Orange Is The New Black or binge-watched the Netflix adaptation (and who hasn’t done that?), chances are you have wondered about the real-life woman behind Nora (in the book) and Alex Vause (the character in the show). For the first time ever, 51-year-old novelist and PhD student Catherine Cleary Wolters has spoken to Vanity Fair about her relationship with Kerman, their mutually-assured-destruction as cash smugglers for an African drug lord, and her side of their love story. Keep reading »

The Soapbox: Chelsea Manning Has The Right To Healthcare In Prison, Transgender Or Not

I Am Chelsea Manning
Bradley Manning: "I Am Chelsea Manning, I Am Female"
Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning has transitioned to Chelsea Manning. Read More »
My Transition Story
What it's like to transition from female to male. Read More »
Q&A: Laverne Cox
interview Laverne Cox Orange Is The New Black
Meet Laverne Cox, the trans actress from "Orange Is The New Black." Read More »
chelsea manning transgender in prison

Now that Chelsea Manning has expressed a desire to medically transition through hormone replacement therapy, there are a lot of questions circling about what Leavenworth looks like for a trans woman, and how exactly someone might transition from male to female in prison. While Manning’s case itself is complicated, the question of what kind of healthcare someone deserves in prison is fairly simple. There are clear legal and moral arguments for Manning receiving hormones once they are prescribed by a doctor. This isn’t about what she did or did not do; it’s about the basic commitment we make as a society when we lock someone up.

When someone commits a crime, no matter how heinous, we still have an obligation as a society to provide their basic needs while they serve their time. As Lesley Kinzel argued when writing about the Michelle Kosilek case last year, “What makes us better than murderers is that we value human life, even the lives of those who don’t value life themselves, their own included.” Whether or not you agree with Manning’s release of classified information, we consider a decent life a collective value, enshrined in the basic rights that are guaranteed by our Constitution. Courts have already held that the 8th Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment confers a right to adequate medical care in prison, and medical experts and courts have consistently found that hormone therapy is a medically necessary treatment for transgender people for whom it’s prescribed. Keep reading »

The Soapbox: Is “Orange Is The New Black” Entertainment Or Education?

Privilege In "OITNB"
Piper in prison on Orange Is The New Black
Piper in "Orange Is The New Black" is the poster girl for privilege. Read More »
Q&A: Laverne Cox
interview Laverne Cox Orange Is The New Black
Meet Laverne Cox, the trans actress from "Orange Is The New Black." Read More »
Q&A: Piper Kerman
The author of "Orange Is The New Black" talks about being behind bars. Read More »
experiences of women in prison

Everybody has feelings about Jenji Kohan’s “Orange is the New Black.” I have all the feelings. Since the show’s debut, we’ve tossed opinions back-and-forth about the cast of characters and the powerfully written narratives that reveal the unseen lives of American’s imprisoned women. But of the many conversations that have surfaced, the most discernible for me is of the legitimacy of Piper Kerman, the memoirist about whom the show was made.

In brief, after getting involved with an international drug dealer, Kerman (a white woman) was indicted for money laundering and spent a year in a woman’s prison – you know, the usual account of a well-to-do white woman who graduated from Smith. She subsequently wrote a best-selling memoir, which was adapted for Netflix. You can watch all of season one there now; I finished it in less than a week.

The show follows her into prison and tells the backstory of several other inmates, many of them women of color. The storyline is emotionally riveting. We’re met with race-related segregation, which mirrors the actual prison experience where racial categories and separation are often strictly enforced. Piper’s race and class privilege are checked in the first episode when it’s revealed that she “read up” on prison etiquette before she arrived. One inmate gives birth in prison and comes back to her bunk child-free, showcasing the reality that two-thirds of incarcerated women are mothers and busting the myth that women who labor in prison get to keep their babies. As a birth justice activist, I wished they’d shown the inhumane way in which many prisons shackle women during labor. Keep reading »

Frisky Q&A: Laverne Cox From “Orange Is The New Black”

Reasons To Watch "Orange"
"Orange Is The New Black" is the best show on TV. Read More »
Meet Laverne Cox
laverne cox of orange is the new black on being pretty enough
Trans actress Laverne Cox speaks about "Orange Is The New Black." Read More »
Privilege In "OISNB"
Piper in prison on Orange Is The New Black
Piper in "Orange Is The New Black" is the poster girl for privilege. Read More »
Q&A: Piper Kerman
The author of "Orange Is The New Black" talks about being behind bars. Read More »
interview Laverne Cox Orange Is The New Black

A show about women in prison could have easily devolved into mindless titillation or stereotypical boredom. But Netflix’s breakout hit “Orange Is The New Black” has skillfully avoided either trapping. Instead, viewers are treated to a show with well-thought-out story lines, sharp social commentary, diverse, multi-faceted characters with compelling backgrounds, and stellar performances. One of these standouts is actress Laverne Cox, who captures audiences with her portrayal of transgender prison inmate, Sophia Burset.

Looking at her career thus far, it’s easy to see why some have deemed Laverne a trailblazer in many ways. Not only has she made the enviable leap from reality star (appearing on VH1’s “I Want to Work For Diddy”) to skilled actress, but she’s also a producer and transgender advocate. Laverne’s visibility as a trans actress of color is breaking barriers on many levels, and hopefully will pave the way for more rich roles created for trans actors.

I had the chance to speak with Cox and learned more about working with Jodie Foster, her relationship to her activism and her art, and the future of trans actors.  Keep reading »

The Soapbox: On The Forgotten Women Of “Fruitvale Station”

Privilege In "OISNB"
Piper in prison on Orange Is The New Black
Piper in "Orange Is The New Black" is the poster girl for privilege. Read More »
Marissa Alexander
Marissa Alexander mug shot
Marissa Alexander of FL sentenced 20 years for firing warning shot. Read More »
Help Marissa Alexander
todays lady news
How to help the Black woman jailed for firing a warning shot at her ex. Read More »
The Soapbox: On The Forgotten Women Of "Fruitvale Station"

Everything you’ve heard about “Fruitvale Station” is true. The biopic, which won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at Sundance, explores the final day in the life of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Black man from Oakland who was shot and killed by a BART officer on New Year’s Day in 2009.

The movie flashes between the past and the present, exploring Grant’s relationship with his four-year-old daughter, his mom, and his girlfriend, who was with him on the night he was shot. After a scuffle on the BART, Grant and his friends, who are all people of color, were detained on the platform. Numerous witnesses filmed the incident with their cell phone cameras, including the moment when Grant, who was unarmed and being restrained by several officers, was shot in the back. That cop claimed he had meant to reach for his Taser; he served less than one year of prison. My three friends and I legitimately bawled for the last 10 minutes of the film. Keep reading »

Shocking: 250 Women In California Were Pressured Into Sterilization

Yelp Reviews of Jail
Yes, you can review jail on Yelp now. Read More »
Dad Was In Jail
black father and daughter
On redemption in fatherhood. Read More »
Mistreated In Jail
Today's Lady News photo
Lawyers say Pussy Riot has been mistreated in jail. Read More »
Inmate's Surgery Approved
Michelle Kosilek will transition from male-to-female on taxpayers' dime. Read More »
california sterilized female inmates

Almost 250 female inmates in the California prison system were sterilized — some after being pressured by doctors — between 1997 and 2010, according to a a new report. The report conducted by the Center for Investigative Reporting quoted women that had felt pestered into getting tubal ligations at both the California Institution for Women in Corona and the Valley State Prison for Women In Chowchilla. Keep reading »

Girl Talk: On Redemption In Fatherhood

Dads Raising Daughters
Real fathers share their wisdom on love, dating and (some day!) sex. Read More »
My Father's Death
Amelia lost her dad this year. Read More »
Father's Day 2013
We heart you, dad! Read More »
black father and daughter

I’ve written candidly about Mother’s Day and all the ways I think the commercialization of it fucks up our relationships with our moms. My own relationship with my mom has been easy because … well, she’s awesome. But my complex relationship to fatherhood makes both talking and writing about it difficult.

There are two people in my life that I call Dad – my biological father and my stepfather. I have very different relationships with each of them and writing about one without mentioning the other feels like a weird act of disloyalty. But this Father’s Day, I’m letting go of that and writing about redemption and it’s relationship to fatherhood.

My biological father has a colorful past; he talks openly and nostalgically about his time as a drug dealer and his stint in prison. I remember bits and pieces of it. One time when I was small, my mother took my sister and me and my brother to the prison to see him. We pressed our dirty, little hands against the impassable glass partition that separated us and talked over a black phone that connected the two sides of the glass. When my dad was released, my parents were separated and we were shuffled back and forth between them every other weekend. My parents were young when they had my twin sister and me — just 21 and 22. Now, having a brother who is 25 and a father, it puts into perspective what it must have been like for my dad to have kids at that age. Keep reading »

“One Billion Rising” Empowers Incarcerated Men & Women To Break The Cycle Of Violence

One Billion Rising
Just some of the acts of violence that women worldwide endure. Read More »
Color Of Domestic Violence
On Kasandra Perkins and the color of domestic violence. Read More »
Domestic Violence Advice
court room
... from a prosecutor who has seen it all. Read More »
"Mentally we are free, though physically we are locked up"

Aside from it being Valentine’s Day, February 14 was also the day of the One Billion Rising campaign, which aims to end violence against women. Violence is cyclical, so it should be no surprise that many incarcerated women and men were also once victims of physical, emotional and sexual violence at some point in their lives. To combat the cycle of violence and break the hold that violence and victimization has had on their lives, male and female inmates at a prison in San Francisco took part in a dance project sponsored by the One Billion Rising project. Dance may seem like a rather ephemeral way to address such heady issues, but for the inmates that participated in the program, dance provided a metaphorical way to escape their own feelings of pain, victimization and shame and a powerful physical release to shake off the chains of incarceration. “We have mothers and sister and daughters and women in the world who are affected by this every minute of every day,” said one inmate of the event. “As a man, I promise you, I will stand up and be a role model.” Let’s hope that sentiment spreads. [YouTube]

Who Wants To Date A Female Inmate?

For the dudes (or the ladies) who can’t find a decent date, why not try a more captive audience … like inmates. Three new online dating sites, Prison Inmates, Cellblockmail, and Meet-An-Inmate allow you to find the prisoner pen pal of your dreams. If things go well, maybe she will call you collect or let you deposit funds into her commissary account. I’m personally a fan of Sandy, the 56-year-old dental hygienist looking for the “Abott to her Costello.” Uh, dare I ask what landed her in the slammer for murder in the second degree? Actually, I’m not sure I want to know. After the jump, the most eligible bachelorettes behind bars. [Buzzfeed] Keep reading »

Beach Bum Shows Off Their Lindsay Lohan Love

If you happen to be in New York City today and pass by the Beach Bum Tanning Salon at 239 7th Avenue, take note of their interesting bright orange accessory. The fake bake salon is showing their support and devotion for Lindsay Lohan — a valued longtime customer — by staging a protest and wrapping the store in an orange ribbon to speak out against her jail time. In addition to the solidarity ribbon, employees created homemade signs that read, “We love you Lindsay! Come home soon” to picket with during their “Free Lindsay” rally. Clearly, the business is missing her unwavering support (ahem, money) and those regular visits needed to keep up her perfect orange glow. But interestingly, she’s not the first starlet to gain support from Beach Bum during her time in lock-up, as Paris Hilton was the subject of the salon’s protest back in 2007. Poor Beach Bum. They’ve been the subject of two injustices this year: dealing with the tanning tax and losing out on two weeks of Lindsay’s visits. (Oh, and if you happen to pass by and snap a photo, {encode=”tips@thefrisky.com” title=”email it”} to us!) [Gawker] Keep reading »

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