Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” has launched a project to allow for life to imitate art in one of the most powerful ways.
In conjunction with the show’s final season, which premiered in its entirety on Friday, the streaming giant is launching The Poussey Washington Fund.
Named for actress Samira Wiley’s fan-favorite prison inmate, who was killed in Season 4, and in keeping with the ethos of a show that offers frank conversations about the problems with our penal and immigration systems, the initiative will support the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, Women’s Prison Association and other non-profit advocacy groups that work for criminal justice reform and to protect immigrants’ rights, end mass incarceration and support women who have been affected by it.
The initiative is reflective of a storyline in the final, seventh season, of “OITNB.” There, Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson (Danielle Brooks) finds a way to honor her friend Poussey by working to offer micro-loans to female inmates upon their release.
A 2016 study from the United States Sentencing Commission found that nearly half of the 25,000 federal offenders it followed over an eight-year period were rearrested for a new crime or for a violation of supervision conditions. The TV series suggests that much of this is due to lack of income.
“Through the Poussey Washington Fund, our characters can live on and continue to make an impact after the show has come to an end,” series creator Jenji Kohan said in a statement provided to CNN. “Taystee recognized an opportunity to make a difference for her fellow inmates, and we saw no reason why we couldn’t launch our own initiative to have an effect in the real world.”
Viewers of the series who are interested in learning more about these causes may visit crowdrise.com/PWF. Donations will be evenly distributed to all organizations involved, according to organizers.