It would not be an understatement to say the guards from Orange Is The New Black are, for the most part, evil. Whether it be the sleazy and manipulative George ‘Pornstache’ Mendez from the earlier seasons or the big bad brute that was Desi Piscatella, the inmates at Litchfield have often found themselves on the receiving end of some heinous acts. And, more often than not, these cruel punishments are undeserved.
Every now and then, though, a guard shows a redeeming quality. It’s rare, but it happens. So we now take a look at the nicest things the powerbrokers have done—and the things that left us completely shocked by their appalling nature.
During the early seasons of Orange Is The New Black, Dayanara Diaz strikes up a relationship with guard John Bennett. He’s new to the prison as a Correctional Officer and was easily the most normal of the members of staff, caring for inmates and ensuring he primality stick to his duty. But, with Daya involved, his stance lessens and the two find themselves romantically involved, despite it being against the rules.
Things take a turn for the worse, though, because they're not careful. Daya becomes pregnant and the duo hatch a plan to frame George Mendez instead. Mendez ends up falling in love and then is imprisoned when it emerges that he, too, has slept with the convict. Bennett ends up taking off, running away from his responsibility as a father and leaving his lover heartbroken. We're hoping he's back to make amends in season 7.
Joel Luschek is admittedly a character who has his flaws. He’s incompetent at his job and can be manipulative at times, but his shortcomings pale in comparison when you look at the guards around him. He shows his soft side in season five when he carries inmate Irene Cabrera out of Litchfield as the prisoners’ riot comes to an end.
Given she had been ready to use him as a human shield and threatened to submit him to torture if he didn’t accept her advances, Luschek shows he’s a good guy at heart by picking her up when she sustains an ankle injury. It’s a small gesture, but, in a place full of bad guys, one we simply can’t overlook.
Maritza Ramos is a loveable, albeit ditzy character. She’s never been the brightest of the inmates and should know better than to talk loudly about things in the prison canteen. Because, when a guard as sadistic as Thomas Humphrey is eavesdropping, then you’re bound to regret it.
Humphrey is arguably the second most-psychotic guard of the whole Orange Is The New Black gang, behind only the vile Desi Piscatella. And he takes great joy in taking Maritza to his house near the compound and making her eat a mouse against her will, putting a gun to her head as she does so. Who would do such a thing? Pure. Evil. 'Humps' eventually gets his comeuppance in the following series and certainly comes to regret his actions...
Of all the guards to work at Litchfield, Susan Fischer is the only one who has ever shown any levels of empathy and sympathy towards the inmates. Everybody else around her adopts heavy-handed techniques in a bid to keep the prisoners in line but Fisher, while straying from her soft approach once, is the exception to the rule.
She even finds out about Daya’s pregnancy and keeps it to herself; such is her willingness to do what is right for those in her care. She catches Nicky smoking in season two and again fails to report it. It’s a cruel world, however, and she’s sacked by Caputo for being too much of a pushover. Cue more horrors inside the penitentiary.
Where do we begin on this one? As mentioned above, Dessi Piscatella is easily the evilest guard EVER to look after—and that’s putting it loosely—the inmates of Litchfield. He’s bad to the bone, even if a horrific prison experience from his younger years made him like that. The only problem is determining what the very worst thing he has done is.
It was he who was to blame for the death of Poussey Washington, who tragically dies via the hand of another guard. He cuts Red’s hair with such ferocity her scalp bleeds while also allowing the guards who worked under him to treat the inmates as nastily as they want. Piscatella is eventually killed when an overly-zealous Swat officer mistakes him for a prisoner and shoots him in the head. Tasha Jefferson then wrongfully goes down for murder in the finale of season six showing that, even in death, his actions have long-lasting consequences.
Like Joel Luschek, Sam Healy is another of the guard’s at Litchfield who has issues. He’s a sexist, misogynistic pig at the beginning, but as time goes on we get to see another side to him. And the character of Lolly Whitehall brings out his best side as his caring qualities—the ones that probably got him the job at the jail in the first place—emerge.
One of Orange is the New Black’s most touching scenes is when Lolly, suffering from paranoid delusions in her mind, is stropping in the ‘space ship’—which is really a big cardboard box. Whereas most of the guards would use sheer force in order to get her to step in line, Healy sits down, talks and hears her out. It’s a nice moment for the duo and their relationship would ultimately force the guard into seeking help for mental health problems of his own.
When Charlie Coates is introduced in season three of Orange is the New Black, he comes across as a likable enough chap. He works in a donut store but then is drafted in by Joe Caputo when Lichfield suddenly finds itself low on staff. It is he who is entrusted with making sure Tiffany ‘Pennsatucky’ Doggett stays on task when running errands with the prison van.
They seem to be hitting it off, having a cute moment where they feed duck together. But then Coates changes; he makes the prisoner eat her donut on all fours like a dog before then raping her. Dogget, who has been sexually abused in the past, doesn’t speak out and it’s eventually left to Boo to scare him off and seek revenge. Whether he eventually pays for his crimes in season seven remains to be seen.
While John Bennett is entirely in the wrong for impregnating Daya, Joe Caputo is extremely good about it all. Given he’s the boss, he could have fired the guard on the spot and gained acclaim for his hard-line decision among his superiors. But Caputo, being the well-intentioned person he is, opts against such drastic action.
Instead, he tells Bennett not to confess to any wrongdoing. He says that, if the truth came out, Daya would be shipped to Max, John would go to jail, and the baby would grow up in a care system rather than loved ones around him. Bennett would eventually flee, but at least still has his liberty. Daya would prove herself to be too headstrong to sacrifice his life for as she eventually ends up in Max anyway after shooting Thomas Humphrey in the leg, something that would later lead to his death.
While CO Bayley is the one who accidentally suffocates Poussey to death, all the guards are to blame for their involvement. It starts with Piscatella, who had allowed his team to adopt any means necessary in order to make the prisoners’ lives a living hell. Then Humphrey, who encouraged the mentally ill Suzanne Warren to fight Maureen Kukudio, who has issues of her own. And then Bayley himself, who should have done his job properly.
Make no mistake about it; while it’s a tragic accident, Bayley was wrong. He should have used his position of power to stop Suzanne from trying to attack him, letting Poussey go. She hadn’t done anything wrong. And her death is still the most devastating moment in Orange is the New Black’s entire history.
Caputo is central to this list. And the final reason is why; he gives his all to try and help Tasha Jefferson when the system tries to pin the murder of Desi Piscatella on her in the final episode of season six.
By this point, the former Lichfield chief has packed in his job. He’s had enough of MCC and he knows that Tasha didn’t kill Piscatella, despite all the evidence suggesting it was her who pulled the trigger. Caputo spends the final episode trying to boost the inmate, to give her confidence, to convince her that he would be alright. And when she goes down, he switches. He pursues Hermann, the main officer of the unit who stormed the prison after the riot, and gets a back eye when he’s beaten down. No doubt he’ll spend the final series of the show trying to clear Taystee’s name…