Is PolyCon A Real Private Prison Company? 'Orange Is The New Black' Season 6 Is A Little Too Real
The characters of Orange Is The New Black have been under the thumb of the Management & Correction Corporation since Season 3, but Season 6 brings forth a shake-up in Litchfield's corporate benefactors. By the end of Season 6, Litchfield is no longer controlled by MCC but instead a company called PolyCon. The company is new to the world of OITNB, but there are some similarities that can be drawn from PolyCon and a real private prison company.
Spoilers ahead for Orange Is The New Black Season 6. Orange Is The New Black is a very cynical show when it comes to the corporate ownership of prison, and the show's invention of PolyCon is no different. After the death of Poussey in Season 4 and the disastrous riot of Season 5, MCC has proven it's incapable of being an effective owner of Litchfield Prison, so to escape the PR nightmare of the riot, the company changes its name to PolyCon.
Not only does the name change seem to help the company escape the mistakes of the MCC era, but it also allows the fictional company to end the season by making a bold new announcement that they'll be opening centers for United States' Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The idea that MCC can try to move beyond its problems by rebranding seems almost too cynical to be true — but one of the leading names in corporate prisons did the exact same thing in real life recently.
In 2016, America's largest private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, rebranded as CoreCivic according to Splinter. In the years leading up to their rebranding, the company had been targeted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, whose "Who Is CCA?" campaign sought to find and expose corruption within the corporation. CCA had also been the subject of an lengthly FBI investigation regarding everything from understaffing to the falsifying of staff rosters. While the investigation "did not produce evidence of a federal criminal violation" according to U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson, the fact that CCA had been under investigation does not look good for business, as reported by Mother Jones.
Following the rebranding, president and chief executive officer of CoreCivic, Damon T. Hininger, explained that, "The CoreCivic name speaks to our ability to solve the tough challenges facing government at all levels and to the deep sense of service that we feel every day to help people," as per The Tennessean. The explanation sounds relatively similar to the reasoning that Linda present her employees in OITNB when MCC announces their rebranding in the wake of the riot.
The PolyCon-CoreCivic connection only grows stronger when one considers that in 2016 Tennessean reported that Corecivic extended a pre-existing contract with ICE through 2021. According to NPR, the private prison business is "booming" in the wake of the Trump administration's immigration policies, something that is touched on in Season 6 with Blanca's deportation in the finale, and will, hopefully, be explored in Season 7.
The name change to Polycon suggests a new phase in the life of MCC, but sadly it looks like things won't be getting better for the Litchfield prisoners anytime soon. Orange Is The New Black uses its fictional correctional corporations to suggests that when money and bureaucracy is involved, the criminal justice system will almost universally fail its prisoners – the fact that their fictional corporations are so similar to real corporations only makes the show's argument stronger.