The Sewage-Filled Jail on ‘Orange is the New Black’ is Real

By Jamilah King Jun 09, 2014

If you’re still looking for a way to connect the second season of "Orange is the New Black" to the real world, here’s your chance. The show was filmed at Riverhead correctional facility in Suffolk County, NY, where, true to a plot-line in the show, there’s an actual sewage back up.

That’s just one of the reasons why the New York Civil Liberties Union has launched a campaign called #HumanityistheNewBlack. "While the women in OITNB face miserable conditions and abuse, it’s nothing compared to what real people experience in the jail where they film as well as other jails in Suffolk County, New York," the group wrote in a press release

Ruth Margalit wrote at the New Yorker that the show doesn’t stray too far from reality when it comes to the disgusting conditions in which incarcerated women are housed:

As I reviewed about a dozen of the inmates’ handwritten grievances, provided to me by the N.Y.C.L.U., a pattern quickly emerged: the water is undrinkable, the inmates write; the stench rising up from the sewers is revolting; they feel sick. Many refer to what they call the "Ping-Pong bathrooms"–a term that is explained in a complaint filed in 2011 by a fifty-year-old man: "The next cell backs up into mine, when I wake up throughout the night there’s feces and urine in my toilet." He adds, "I’ve complained to officers number of times." Another inmate writes, "I am constantly being exposed to other inmates human bodily waste I am in cell #9." A third inmate states, "I have been drinking the water here and came to realize it’s the problems I having with throat, stomach and lung." Another complains of "rashes and hard skin on my back and feet from the water in the shower." His complaint ends with a request: "I wish to seek help from medical please as soon as possible."

Read more at the New Yorker.