The fictional hardships faced by Piper Chapman and her fellow female inmates in "Orange is the New Black" might be downright grim, but advocates say the environment at the jail where the show's second season was filmed is alarmingly inhumane.
Raw sewage, infestations, polluted drinking water, and repeated incidents of sexual harassment -- according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, these are just a few of the examples of deplorable conditions rampant in the Riverhead Correctional Facility in Long Island's Suffolk County:
What you don’t see on screen are the actual people who are forced to live in the jail’s inhumane and disgusting conditions. 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.
...Former prisoner Jason Porter described crowding onto a small table with his fellow prisoners for 30 hours while rivers of human waste 6-inches deep flooded the jail floor after toilets exploded, spraying human feces and urine as high as the ceiling.
The NYCLU has launched a social media campaign to shed light on the situation inside the jail. Coined "Humanity is the New Black," it calls upon New Yorkers to demand reform.
— Claire Redfield (@toschie) June 5, 2014
— Amol Sinha (@AmolSinha) June 5, 2014
The NYCLU says it originally filed a class action lawsuit in April 2012 on behalf of 100 inmates, but "the county has been fighting tooth and nail."
The campaign points to a form on the organization's website which allows users to email Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, asking him to fix conditions at the jail.
Bellone's office has not yet responded to a request for comment; we'll update accordingly if we hear back.