In Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, Piper Kerman takes readers into B-Dorm, a community of eccentric, colorful, vividly drawn women. Their stories raise issues of family and friendship, mental illness, odd cliques and codes of behavior, the role of religion, the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailor, and the almost complete lack of guidance for life after prison.
When federal agents knocked on her door with an indictment in hand, Piper Kerman barely resembled the reckless young woman she was shortly after graduating Smith College. She was happily ensconced in a New York City apartment with a promising career and an attentive boyfriend. Piper was forced to reckon with the consequences of her very brief, very careless alliance in the world of drug trafficking.
Following a plea deal for her 10-year-old crime, Piper spent a year in the infamous women’s correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, which she found to be no “Club Fed.” Compelling, moving, and often hilarious, Orange is the New Black sheds a unique light on life inside a women’s prison, by a Smith College graduate who did the crime and did the time.
Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison has been adapted into an original television series for Netflix.
Piper Kerman is a frequent invited speaker to students of law, criminology, gender and women’s studies, sociology, and creative writing. She also speaks to groups that include the American Correctional Association’s Disproportionate, Minority Confinement Task Force, federal probation officers, public defenders, justice reform advocates and volunteers, book clubs, and formerly and currently incarcerated people. She serves on the board of the Women’s Prison Association.
Piper works with Spitfire Strategies as a communications consultant with nonprofits, philanthropies, and other organizations working in the public interest. She works on a range of issues that includes criminal justice reform.