It doesn't take a snow day watch party of the Locked Up series or Shawshank Redemption to understand why male prisons rarely feature beauty enterprises. There's no Sophia Burset toiling over other inmates' hair at the salon, and there certainly isn't a Lorna Morello making eyeshadow from instant coffee like you see on Orange Is The New Black. In real life, things are a bit...different.
To wit: A new cosmetology school has cropped up inside the walls of Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, California. But it's not the stuff of a scripted plot line — it's an actual education program for incarcerated men. There, students must take two years and 1,600 hours-worth of skin care, hair care, and nail care classes to be qualified to for professional certification — all of which will translate outside jail walls.
"Being in prison they teach you not to touch each other, not to touch staff, [and that] goes against the norm of what you see about prison on TV," Juan Brizuela, an inmate at the facility, says in a video about the program. "Ex gang members, men with tattoos on their faces and all over their body — it's not something you see out there working in a beauty salon. It's putting a light on a different side of the prison system."
The clip, which has since garnered more than 51,000 views on YouTube, features a closer look at the program. (Which, according to Good magazine, currently has a 100% graduation rate — one of the highest of any prison eduction programs in the country.) The ladies of Litchfield would be proud.
Press play on the video to see it for yourself, below.
Read these stories next: