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Why Every Orange Is the New Black Inmate Is in Prison

Aug 19 2016 - 12:00pm

Couldn't wait for Orange is the New Black's fourth season [1]? We don't blame you; Netflix's prison comedy is as great as ever, and we're already psyched about season five [2]. In the most recent season, we learned even more about how the characters end up at Litchfield through flashbacks [3]. In case you missed anything, here's the definitive guide to exactly what each inmate did wrong — besides getting caught, obviously. Oh, major spoiler alert if you haven't seen season four!

—Additional reporting by Amanda Rosenberg

Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren

Before we find out about Suzanne's crime, we get a taste of her upbringing. She was adopted by a white, suburban couple, and despite loving her daughter, Suzanne's mother often pushed her to accomplish more than she was comfortable with — like singing a song at her graduation.

A season four flashback reveals that Suzanne used to work as a greeter at a superstore. One day, she sees a kid whose family she knows from the store at the park, and she brings him home to play videogames with her. After a while, he wants to go home, but she doesn't understand. He tries to use the fire escape to leave, but falls — presumably to his death. It's one of the darkest backstories [9] we've seen on the show.

Poussey Washington

So far, Poussey's crime is unclear. What we do know about her past is that she lived in Germany, where her father was stationed with the US Army. She had a romantic relationship with the base commander's daughter, and this is what got her family reassigned to the States.

In a season four flashback, Poussey is back in America visiting her friends. She gets separated from them and has a wild night on the town, befriending some drag queens and hitching a ride from bicycling monks who turn out to be members of an improv group.

By the end of season four, we find out that Poussey is in prison for being busted over a small amount of weed.

Brook Soso

Brook lands in prison due to some illegal political activism. In a flashback during season four, we learn that she used to be a door-to-door activist. One day, she agrees to go to the house of a registered sex offender if a guy she has a crush on will go out with her. She goes, and it turns out that he's actually a really nice guy who got a bad rap. Once she gets back to headquarters, she boasts about how awful he was and that he tried to seduce her. That's as far as we've gotten into Brook's backstory, but I'm betting that she takes her lie too far and the guy presses charges for further besmirching his already tainted name.

Maria Ruiz

During season four, we see that Maria is the daughter of a Dominican equality activist. As a teenage girl, she sees a Mexican guy dropping money into a bush while running from the cops. She grabs it and finds him later to give it back. The two fall in love, and she's banished from her home. We haven't gotten the details of what exactly she gets busted for.

Lolly Whitehill

Lolly is legitimately crazy, and from what we've seen, she may have just ended up in prison for being homeless and trying to sell coffee out of a grocery cart.

Maritza Ramos

On season six, we learn that Maritza Ramos used to work as a waitress in a club. She used to scam customers by putting water in vodka bottles, tripping while delivering the bottle, guilting men into paying for it, then pocketing the cash. While running these little scams in the club, she meets a man who takes her scam game up a level. He takes her to a luxury car dealership where he tells her to find an older, wealthy man, take his ID, and steal the car in his name. Maritza quickly finds her mark — an older man named Edward Spencer. However, just as she's about to drive away, one of the sales guys joins her and Spencer. During the test drive, the salesman asks questions about their relationship, and it quickly becomes evident that Maritza is scamming Spencer. In a fit of desperation, Maritza feigns illness. Both men step out the car to check if she's alright and in that brief second, she runs back into the car and drives away.


Before Blanca went to Litchfield, she was a caretaker for a terribly mean old lady. She falls for the gardener at the woman's estate, and the old woman fires him because she sees the budding relationship. The woman awakens in the night to see Blanca and the gardener having sex on a chair several feet from her bed. After that, the woman is terrified of Blanca. TBA on how she actually winds up in prison, though.

Judy King

We know before celebrity chef Judy [10] even gets to Litchfield that she is in prison for tax evasion.

Piper Chapman

Ten years before she landed in prison, Piper helped her then-girlfriend, Alex Vause, smuggle drug money during an extended vacation in Europe.

Alex Vause

Alex used to be a smuggler for a major drug cartel. Though she loved Piper, she also used her as a pawn in her smuggling operation. Ten years after the crime, Alex named Piper as an accomplice, and the two both end up at Litchfield.

Galina "Red" Reznikov

It's not completely clear what exactly lands Red in prison, but we do know that she and her husband owned a restaurant and that Red became involved with the Russian mafia. She punched one of the mob wives in the boob and ruptured an implant, but her solid business advice to the husband allowed her to stick around.

In season four, we find out that Red had several heads in her freezer at the time of her arrest.

Lorna Morello

While we first assume Morello is planning her wedding [11] to her fiancé, Christopher, it's revealed that Christopher is the man she was stalking. After meeting at a post office, they went on one date, and she proceeded to stalk him. Eventually, she planted an explosive device in his actual girlfriend's car, attempting to murder her.

Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson

So far we just know that Taystee was involved in a drug ring run by Vee.

Nicky Nichols

Nicky is a former heroin addict who was raised by a wealthy but mostly absent mother. She was arrested for stealing a taxi with her friends so that she can get to her dealer in time to get drugs for the weekend.

Gloria Mendoza

On season two, we learn that Gloria has a complicated background with domestic abuse and was arrested for food-stamp fraud.

Carrie "Big Boo" Black

Though we've seen flashbacks of Big Boo as a child, the precise nature of her crime is unknown. We do know she ran a gambling ring and she refers to herself as a "thieving dyke" on season three, so it may have something to do with stealing.

Leanne Taylor

In season three, it's revealed that Leanne had been part of an Amish community before she heads to Litchfield. She left her family and got into drugs with a bad crowd, but decided to return. She made the fatal mistake of leaving her backpack filled with incriminating stuff near the outskirts of the town, and the police hauled her in. Leanne made a deal, agreeing to turn on her old friends and wear a wire.

Norma Romano

As a young woman, Norma fell in love with a charismatic cult leader. Decades later, all his other wives had left him and she was the only one still standing. Though she was still optimistic about their potential, he screamed at her and insulted her intelligence. She promptly pushed him off a cliff, killing him.

Janae Watson

Watson was a talented track runner in high school, but her speed didn't make her very popular with boys. She was rejected by the cool crowd and started hanging out with some thugs. Together, they robbed a store and Watson was arrested when she purposely slowed down while running from the cops.

Gina Murphy

We don't know the details of Gina's crime, but it's been implied that murder and embezzlement play a part.

Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett

Pennsatucky is sent to Litchfield for shooting an abortion-clinic worker. Though it's assumed this is because of her serious religious beliefs, it's revealed that she shot the woman for making a remark about this being Pennsatucky's fifth abortion. Needless to say, Pennsatucky doesn't react well to being disrespected.

Yoga Jones

Yoga Jones is in the pen for killing a child. She used to be a marijuana farmer, but one day she mistook a child for a deer and shot the boy.

Marisol "Flaca" Gonzales

Flaca's crime is essentially being too smart. She started selling fake drugs at her school, but one of the kids to whom she sold the drugs thought he was really high and committed suicide by jumping off the roof of the school. She was arrested for fraud and endangerment.

Dayanara "Daya" Diaz

Daya's exact crime is unknown, but because of what we've seen of her background, we can assume it's drug-related. She grew up in an abusive environment with her mother, and at one point she slept with her mother's drug-dealer boyfriend to spite her mother.

Sophia Burset

Years ago, Sophia was a male fireman. Once she decided to transition to a female, she committed credit card fraud to finance her operation and hormone therapy. We also know that it was her son, who was having trouble with her transition, who turned her in.

Aleida Diaz

Aleida (Daya's mother) used to be involved in a drug operation. Her boyfriend had her cutting and bagging drugs in her home, and she took the fall for him.

"Black" Cindy Hayes

Cindy used to be the world's worst airport security employee. She would regularly harass and steal from travelers, and though it's not explicitly said that this behavior led to her arrest, it can be assumed.

Sister Ingalls

A nun since young adulthood, Sister Ingalls became really involved in social activism. This continued throughout her career with the church, even publishing a book called Nun Shall Pass. Due to her growing hubris, the church refused to support her any longer, and she was arrested after handcuffing herself to a flagpole at a nuclear test site.

Stella Carlin

We don't know exactly what crimes lands Stella in Litchfield, but we do know a little bit about her backstory. She and her parents moved from Australia to America because of her father's job, but when her parents eventually left the States, she decided to stay.

Miss Rosa Cisneros

Back in the day, Miss Rosa was a pretty serious bank robber. She was good at stealing money, but she was cursed. Her crew of men dwindled as she would take one as her lover before he inevitably ended up dead by the end of the robbery. Eventually, she got caught.

Vee Parker

It's not explicitly explained, but one might assume Vee's imprisonment has to do with the drug ring she ran on the outside.

Miss Claudette Pelage

Miss Claudette grew up as an illegal child laborer. She was sent to the United States to pay off a debt for her family, and when she grew up, she ran a cleaning service using illegal child labor. It's not clear whether she's in prison for this or because she beat a man to death for abusing one of her "employees." It's probably both.

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