Orange is the New “Dirty Hands”

Prison is; the place where a group of corrupt individuals spend some if not the rest of their lives in for not being able to live properly within the laws of the land. Although most freedoms are taken away from them, they still deserve basic rights. The warden and correctional officers have the ability to allow and take away these basic rights depending on the behavior of the inmates within the walls and barbed wire fences of the prison. However, when a prison’s high ranking officials are corrupt themselves, how do the prisoners get the word out to the public of these wrongdoings?

Machiavelli introduced the idea of “dirty hands,” or the act of doing “unethical or immoral things in order to achieve a goal that will benefit the people.” Although this theory may seem dishonest, it does not always have to be. Piper Chapman, in the Netflix original series, “Orange is the New Black” puts herself at risk by acting out and going against authority for the benefit of the other inmates. Chapman is serving a fifteen month sentence at Litchfield Penitentiary for transporting money across international borders for her drug-dealing girlfriend, a crime she committed over a decade before she was sentenced. During her time in prison, she creates relationships with many of the other inmates. As Chapman gets to know them better and she begins to recognize the lifestyle of a prisoner, she starts to investigate the corrupt atmosphere that is lead by assistant to the warden, Natalie Figueroa.

Piper Chapman
Piper Chapman

At the expense of the prison, Figueroa embezzled money from the Department of Corrections by cutting programs and other benefits. Figueroa was willing to cover up events that might have harmed the reputation and funding of the prison. These incidents included the inmate hunger strike, sending a mentally unstable prisoner back on the streets with no guidance, and unsanitary bathroom conditions. Chapman quickly recognizes Figueroa’s actions and refuses to sit still while Fig is benefiting from what is being taken from the prison. Chapman agrees to speak with a reporter about the current situation within Litchfield although this is an illegal action as an inmate as she did not have the interview, “approved and arranged by the PIO.”

Natalie Figueroa
Natalie Figueroa
Joe Caputo
Joe Caputo

For the sake of herself and for her fellow inmates, Chapman shows her “dirty hands” during a severe weather storm. While all the inmates and correctional officers are in a sheltered room, Chapman escapes and sneaks into Figueroa’s office where she is able to take her records of revenue and expenses which would prove Figueroa’s  embezzlement. As Chapman leaves the office, she is caught by Joe Caputo who at the time was one of the prison counselors and administrative officials. Caputo sends Chapman to “The SHU,” which is solitary confinement for inmates. Although Chapman was caught, her dirty hands will not go in vain. The two worked together to take down Figueroa, allowing Caputo to take over her job.

Although what Chapman did was wrong in the sense that she is a prisoner who broke into administrative offices and stealing records, she did it for herself as well as her inmates so that they can have their basic rights as prisoners.

 

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One thought on “Orange is the New “Dirty Hands”

  1. First of all, I think this show is awesome and very funny so I am glad that you decided to blog about it. While I am an avid viewer of this series I had never really considered applying it to some of the concepts learned in polisci 101. I think you make a great point that in some situations the dirty hands method can be used in an ethical way. I think most people believe that doing something that requires a person to “get their hands dirty” is unethical and not the right way to go about something. However, as in Piper’s case, we can see how one can do something unethical while having the overall intention of doing something for the greater good. Although I believe Piper was right to do so in this particular case, it makes you wonder at what point does something become so unethical that it is “unforgivable” even if it has good intentions?

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