#HumanityIsTheNewBlack: Hit Netflix series inspires Internet prison reform campaign - Imperial Valley Press Online: Entertainment

#HumanityIsTheNewBlack: Hit Netflix series inspires Internet prison reform campaign

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Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 2:03 pm

Viewers of the hit Netflix original series "Orange Is the New Black" see terrible prison conditions on the show, and some advocates say the situation is worse in the jail where some of the series is filmed.

The New York Civil Liberties Union and the law firm of Shearman & Sterling has launched the Internet campaign #HumanityIsTheNewBlack this week, according to Nia-Malika Henderson at the Washington Post.

The organizations are hoping to draw viewers' attention to bleak conditions at the Suffolk County jail in Riverhead, New York, where portions of the second season of "Orange Is the New Black" was filmed, reports Henderson.

"What you don’t see on screen are the actual people who are forced to live in the jail’s inhumane and disgusting conditions," a statement of the NYCLU's website reads. "Prisoners describe actual floods of human feces; inescapable growths of thick, black mold; constant insect infestations; and brown water that smells 'like a cesspool.' The conditions are so deplorable that their skin grows bumps, changes colors, flakes and bleeds."

Furthermore, most of the prisoners at Riverhead haven't been convicted; they just couldn't pay bail, according to the NYCLU. "But no matter how they got to Riverhead, each and every person who is housed there is having their constitutional rights violated," the statement continues.

This campaign is the latest of NYCLU and Shearman & Sterling's efforts to improve conditions at Riverhead, writes Ruth Margalit at The New Yorker. The advocacy group and law firm sued the Riverhead facility two years ago, but case has been held up, Margalit wrote.

NYCLU attorney Corey Stoughton believes Suffolk authorities profit from allowing "Orange Is the New Black" to be filmed at Riverhead while people in the real-life jail suffer, according to Margalit.

"You have this county that’s on the one hand making money off of, and wooing, Hollywood, and then you have this reality — and the reality puts fiction to shame," Stoughton says.

Michael Sharkey, the Suffolk sheriff office's chief-of-staff, told Margalit that the jail meets state standards.

Kandra Polatis, Deseret News

Email: kpolatis@deseretnews.com Twitter: KandraPolatis

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