Orange Is the New Black is known for its flashbacks, which often reveal how the current inmates wound up serving time. And while the show has moved beyond shocking the audience with the reveal of just what the characters did, ranking the Orange is the New Black prisoners by their crimes yields some surprising results. Turns out, the seriousness of their crimes on the outside have almost no bearing on how they act once they enter Litchfield. There are a few exceptions, of course, like the way Vee plotted and planned to smuggle in hard drugs after working as a dealer on the outside. But, while most of them had complex reasons for doing what they had to do, they tend to follow their emotions much more strongly than their criminal instincts.
For the purposes of saving time, I'm going to focus on inmates who are still alive and still in the prison — which is the only thing keeping Vee or Miss Rosa from the top of the list — and ones who had flashbacks or expositional speeches where their crimes were never revealed or hinted at. Many of the new flashbacks we got in Season 3 didn't even describe what crimes the subjects committed, so while we know Boo described herself as a thief, we don't know if she was mooching out of people's wallets or organizing a money laundering operation. The stories of these women's crimes show that often, these crimes are just a small part of who these women are.
Soso's activism wound up resulting in prison time, but sitting in a tree to protest deforestation is as harmless as you can get in prison.
18. Sister Ingalls
Again, Sister Ingalls may have been a little more daring and provocative than Soso, but as an activist, her crime was far more about exposing corporate wrongdoing than taking, stealing, or destroying anything.
She may have been busted for fraud, but she didn't really sell any drugs, so it's pretty easy to consider her a low-level criminal.
She wouldn't have even been caught if not for Alex's self-serving ability to bring her down, and her crime was nonviolent.
Daya seems to be a casualty of Aleida and Cesar's scheme to sell drugs out of the Diaz family apartment rather than a real career criminal.
I'm presuming from what she said to Taystee in Season 2, that she was busted for selling weed after moving back to America.
Taystee's flashbacks painted her as a straightedge, but while working with Vee, she may have been forced to carry or supply drugs, which got her sent away. It seems as though now she's in prison for violating her parole, when she didn't have anyone to stay with following her prison stay in Season 1.
Nicky grew up spoiled and rich, but her heroin addiction hit her just as hard as it would anyone. And, she stole as much money as she could get her hands on in order to feed that habit, eventually getting busted for some heroin-related offense.
She was the worst TSA agent of all time, but stealing a couple of iPads pales in comparison to the serious conspiracies some of these other inmates put together.
If endangering her children was the crime, Aleida would have made number one, but alas her charge for drug ownership and the intent to sell is not as serious as eight other character offenses.
Credit card fraud and identity theft are bad enough without abusing the job of a firefighter to get those identities.
Her food stamp fraud was pretty serious, especially since she's been in jail for what must be ten years, judging by her flashback. Even though her scheme didn't physically hurt anyone, she did take a large amount of cash.
She's a high-level heroin dealer and smuggler, which is pretty serious — and the stakes are life and death, judging by Kubra's search for revenge.
Frieda, one of the standout characters of Season 3 (in my humble opinion), described how she cut off her husband's penis as "the best thing I ever did."
Her stalking and threats are terrifying, especially since not even being in prison has stopped her from pursuing Christopher. Maybe she'll finally chill out after marrying Vincent, but it doesn't seem like that's in her character — she'll never be able to let that obsession go.
Even though she's been retconned to be a much more sympathetic character, let's not forget that Doggett shot an abortion clinic nurse over a momentary anger flare-up.
3. Yoga Jones
She killed a kid when he trespassed on her marijuana farm. Tragic, and surely accompanied by a hefty sentence.
While Piper may underestimate her, Red's rise from a simple store owner to a criminal conspirator in the Russian mob who built two different smuggling rings while in prison is incredible. Red secretly is one of the most serious prisoners on OITNB.
It's a shock to see sweet, quiet Norma top out the Season 3 crime ratings. But, not only did she kill her cult leader husband, it was implied that he was on the hook with the cops for potentially forcing underage girls to join said cult, and, since they were living off the grid for so long, I doubt that they paid regular taxes. Yet she started her own miracle-granting peace religion this season on OITNB, the ultimate proof that you can't judge an inmate by her criminal past.
Images: JoJo Wilden, Jessica Miglio/Netflix (20)