Piper Kerman was like many upper middle class New Yorkers with a wedding to plan, until her adventurous youth caught up with her and she found herself in prison for money laundering. Kerman’s memoir, “Orange is the New Black,” which has been turned into a popular Netflix series, follows her year spent in a women’s prison. She joins us in the studio.

Interview Highlights

Piper Kerman, author of "Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison"

  • thucy

    I’ve been really impressed by Kerman’s short pieces in the Times about issues affecting prisoners. Hoping to hear the segment today.

    Tonight, law professor and best-selling author Michellle Alexander will speak at Calif. Inst. for Integral Studies. I wonder if Kerman’s and Alexander’s paths have crossed – they’re both changing the way we think about the justice system and the prison system.

  • thucy

    Note to Forum: We actually got the Orville Schell/J. Delury book on China’s reformers that was featured on Forum recently. Despite its dull title, it turned out to be a real page-turner – and, IMO, essential reading for Westerners. Schell is a much more compelling writer than he is a guest!

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    (I hope this posts properly).
    1) Michael is missing mention of NPR own reporting on women in prisons. It is far more egregious than this discussion today with Piper. Here’s a link and excerpt from NPR’s work:

    “Upon entering or exiting solitary confinement and on other occasions when they have not left the facility – for example, when they finish a work assignment within the prison – girls are subject to invasive strip searches. When girls resist, guards regularly use physical force, pepper spray, handcuffs and leather straps to force them to comply. These tactics are also used on girls already in solitary confinement in response to self-harm, shouting, and banging on the wall. Girls subjected to this treatment report suffering flashbacks to childhood rapes and feeling degraded, humiliated and afraid.”

    2) Mie Lewis is the young ACLU attorney who performed the most extensive research to date on juvenile girls incarceration and abuse.
    “Custody and Control: Conditions of Confinement in New York’s Juvenile Prisons for Girls”
    Full download here free from ACLU:

    Same report is viewable here on Google:

    • thucy

      Equally disturbing is the acceptance by the larger society of violent male-on-male rape in US prisons. The NY Review of Books did some amazing investigative journalism of this, forcing the Justice Dept to concede it had denied the true numbers.

  • Sandy Handsher

    The caller who believes there are many barriers for an offender to actually go to jail should watch a new documentary GIDEON’S ARMY about the long hours, low pay, and overloaded caseload of Public Defenders. Many clients take a plea of guilty rather than accept an “inevitable” punishment for higher level crime, even when they did not commit a crime. http://gideonsarmythefilm.com/

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