Is the ‘Orange is New Black’ Prison Real? Yes, and it is Located Near Utica
The critically acclaimed Netflix original series ‘Orange is the New Black’ is set at a prison for women in Upstate New York and it turns out, the writers want you to believe it’s located in the nearby town of Litchfield, which is just southeast of Utica.
While Litchfield, NY has existed since 1796, The Litchfield Federal Penitentiary doesn’t exist.
According to the series, an educated, New York City woman named Piper Chapman is forced to spend a year upstate in prison for a drug crime she had committed a decade earlier.
There are plenty of references to Litchfield, N.Y..
Scenes from the series include several NYS Correctional telephone calls back and forth between Chapman and her fiancé in New York City, Larry Bloom and in one episode, a 315 area code cell number is shown on an iPhone from the location of Litchfield, NY.
The series delves into the real-life story of Piper Kerman and her fiancé, Larry Smith and their struggles in dealing with a long-distance relationship while Kerman spent a year in the Danbury Federal Penitentiary. Smith, a struggling writer, penned a column in the New York
Times entitled, A Life to Live, This Side of the Bars, which was published on March 25th, 2010. The column became a storyline in the series as the couple struggled with their life apart.
Despite the fiction, the storyline is a familiar one for many New York City families as they travel Upstate to Oneida County to visit loved ones in the prisons located in the area.
The series is created by Jenji Kohan who created Weeds. Season two of Orange is the New Black is expected out on Netflix in early Spring.
Read the real-life column by Larry Smith that appeared in the New York Times back in 2010 here.
The Town of Litchfield, NY
The Town of Litchfield is a rural area south of Utica with a total population of around 1500 people scattered across some 57 miles of country roads. According to the Town’s website, Litchfield is home to 3 churches, 2 golf courses, rural homes, several farms and a few other businesses. The township is known to have been part of the stomping grounds of the notorious Loomis Gang, which operated in Central New York in the 1800’s.
Litchfield made national news on August 18, 1993 when a 12-year-old girl was abducted while riding her bicycle on one of the Township’s country roads. It’s believed that Sara Anne Wood was abducted and killed by child serial killer Lewis Lent Jr.. Despite giving clues to investigators as to the whereabouts of her body, she has never been found. Lent is currently serving life without parole in a Massachusetts prison for the 1990 killing of 12-year-old James Bernardo.