When Season 4 ended, the self-contained world of Litchfield Penitentiary had been shaken to its core, the inmates taking charge over the guards in an impromptu prison after the death of Poussey. But will the inmates get punished for the riot in Orange Is The New Black's new episodes? What are the procedures when such an event takes place, exactly?
Strangely, the OITNB Season 5 trailer doesn't show many of the repercussions of last season's cliffhanger ending. Life seems back to a state of semi-normalcy, as the inmates laugh, cry, and argue with each other as usual; the only difference is the apparent release of a set of demands on the part of the prisoners.
But don't be fooled into thinking the show will somehow just skate past the effects of such a massive uprising. It turns out there's very good reason the resolution of the prison riot isn't shown in the trailers: it hasn't happened yet. Danielle Brooks revealed that Season 5 takes place over the course of only three days, which means that all 13 episodes will likely be dealing with the riot, the quality of life under the uprising… and the inevitable consequences when it eventually comes to an end.
So what will happen to the inmates once it's all over? Probably nothing good, unfortunately. Given the amount of media attention the riot seems to be attracting, there's very little chance of the event being swept under the rug by Caputo. But that's where the catch-22 of prison riots comes in: how do you punish people who are already being punished? And who bears the brunt of the responsibility? The people who organized the riot — or absolutely everybody who participated in it?
Exact laws vary state to state, and it's often difficult to find and dissect the nitty gritty of the legalese; but one can get a general sense of the consequences by doing a little research. For example, in the state of Washington, the Revised Code of Washington — Title 9, Chapter 9.94, Section 9.94.010 — states that:
Every inmate of a correctional institution who is guilty of prison riot or of voluntarily participating therein by being present at, or by instigating, aiding, or abetting the same, is guilty of a class B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in a state correctional institution for not less than one year nor more than ten years, which shall be in addition to the sentence being served.
Did you catch that? You can be punished for a prison riot not just for "instigating" it or "aiding or abetting" it… but simply for "being present" when it happens. (As opposed to what? By definition, the inmates are locked up, so where are they supposed to go when a riot breaks out?) That's a pretty sweeping statement, which doesn't bode well for your favorite characters.
However, the fictional Litchfield is in upstate New York, not Washington, so things might be a bit different there. For example, while the Washington laws surrounding prison riots classify it as a "class B felony," the Empire state has a different categorization of the same crime. In New York, "riot in the first degree" is defined as someone who…
…while in a correctional facility or a local correctional facility … simultaneously with ten or more other persons, engages in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly causes or creates a grave risk of causing alarm within such correctional facility or local correctional facility and in the course of and as a result of such conduct, a person other than one of the participants suffers physical injury or substantial property damage occurs. Riot in the first degree is a class E felony.
A class E felony is actually the lowest possible felony charge a person can receive (with D, C, B, and A getting progressively more severe); in the state of New York, law dictates that a conviction on any felony charge will result in a sentence of "at least three years," and that conviction on a class E felony charge will result in a sentence that "shall not exceed four years." (The maximum sentence for higher levels of felonies increases to seven, 15, 25, and life imprisonment, respectively.)
Of course, since the women of Litchfield are already serving time, these additional years will simply be tacked on to whatever sentence they already have. To some of them, the idea of another few years inside probably seems like a small price to pay if it results in increased respect and a better standard of living.
Of course, if Daya ends up shooting C.O. Humphrey — or if anyone else (other than the rioting inmates themselves) get hurt in the course of the uprising — then the repercussions could end up being more severe than just three additional years of jail time. Viewers will just have to wait and see what goes down when the inmates rise up when Season 5 debuts on Netflix this Friday, June 9.