Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
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With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.
Praise for Orange Is the New Black
“Fascinating . . . The true subject of this unforgettable book is female bonding and the ties that even bars can’t unbind.”—People (four stars)
“I loved this book. It’s a story rich with humor, pathos, and redemption. What I did not expect from this memoir was the affection, compassion, and even reverence that Piper Kerman demonstrates for all the women she encountered while she was locked away in jail. I will never forget it.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
“This book is impossible to put down because [Kerman] could be you. Or your best friend. Or your daughter.”—Los Angeles Times
“Moving . . . transcends the memoir genre’s usual self-centeredness to explore how human beings can always surprise you.”—USA Today
“It’s a compelling awakening, and a harrowing one—both for the reader and for Kerman.”—Newsweek.com
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States run and led entirely by young women. The center organizes young women who are the most marginalized in San Francisco—those in the street economies and the juvenile justice system—to design and deliver peer-to-peer education and support. A New Way of Life Reentry Project P.O. Box 875288 Los Angeles, CA 90087 (323) 563-3575 http://www.anewwayoflife.org Led by Susan Burton, a CNN Hero of 2010, A New Way of Life Reentry Project provides housing, support services, and leadership
assumed I was doing time on a financial crime, but actually I was like the vast majority of the women there: a nonviolent drug offender. I did not make any secret of it, as I knew I had lots of company; in the federal system alone (a fraction of the U.S. prison population), there were over 90,000 prisoners locked up for drug offenses, compared with about 40,000 for violent crimes. A federal prisoner costs at least $30,000 a year to incarcerate, and females actually cost more. Most of the women
music, and relax!” Every Sunday we cleaned the cube together—we would use her irreplaceable plastic basin filled with warm water and laundry soap. She cleaned the floor with one of her special rags taken from the kitchen, while I did the walls and the ceiling with Maxipads from the box that sat in the bathroom, getting all the dust and grime off of the slanting metal I-beams and the sprinkler system that ran over my bed. Then we would fix my bed together. No one who has been down a long time will
this: In the life of the individual man, virtue is the sole good; such things as health, happiness, possessions, are of no account. Since virtue resides in the will, everything really good or bad in a man’s life depends only upon himself. He may become poor, but what of it? He can still be virtuous. A tyrant may put him in prison, but he can still persevere in living in harmony with Nature. He may be sentenced to death, but he can die nobly, like Socrates. Therefore every man has perfect
their time here. What do they know about reentry?” “Pipes, you’re looking for logic in all the wrong places.” The guy from food services was very nice and very funny. We liked him a lot. He told us that it was important to eat right, exercise, and treat your body as a temple. But he didn’t tell us how to get health care services that people with no money could afford. He didn’t tell us how we could quickly obtain birth control and other reproductive health services. He didn’t recommend any