Kerman, Piper. (2010) Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. Random House, NY: Spiegel ; Grau. This is the story of Piper Kerman, and how her personal insight from being in prison relates to that of other female offenders in the correctional system. Kerman was born on September 28, 1969, in Boston, Massachusetts. She came from an affluent and well-educated family, who were mostly teachers, lawyers, and doctors.
Kerman attended Smith College in New England where she majored in theater and graduated in 1992. By the year 1998, she had fallen in love with an editor named Larry Smith, they both moved to New York settling in together. Kerman and Smith said their “I Do’s” in 2006. Kerman is best known for her New York Times Bestseller memoir, Orange is the New Black. Soon after being published in 2010 the book caught the attention of television producer Jenji Kohan, who then later in 2013 created an Emmy-Award winning TV series on Netflix. Kerman also received the Justice Trailblazer Award from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
After graduating from Smith College in 1992, she was unmotivated on pursuing her career in theater and lacked any motivation in truly continuing with her education. So, she decided to remain in her college town of Northampton, MA where Kerman worked as a waitress for some time. While working long hours at her odd end jobs, she met a raspy-voiced Midwesterner by the name of Catherine Cleary Wolters also known as “Nora” in the book. Wolters would be the one who would give Kerman the adventurous life she fancied, yet also change her life in the years to come. Kerman’s life took a drastic turn soon after getting involved with Wolters, who was connected in a drug-smuggling operation for a West Nigerian African drug kingpin. Over the months that followed she and Wolters began to grow closer to each other. They both became romantically involved with each other in early 1993 eventually moving into the same house.
Moreover, despite or maybe perhaps because of their very eccentric romantic situation she began to feel she need to move out of Northampton. Kerman and a friend had been hard at work saving all their tip money to quit their jobs and head west for San Francisco, CA. With just a few weeks away before their departure to the West Coast, Wolters learned she was needed by the kingpin and had to return to Indonesia. However, this time Wolters had asked Kerman to accompany her to her trip to back to Indonesia to “hang out” and keep her company. It was an offer she could not refuse since she longed for some exotic adventure, Kerman eventually agreed to accompany Wolters on her trip.
She traveled constantly with Wolters for four months, with occasional stops in the States for a few days. Kerman slowly began to realize that this was not the adventurous life she craved and was going tired of her new adopted drug “family”. During one of their short stays in the States, Kerman received a phone call from Wolters while with her family indicating she needed her to meet her at Chicago O’Hare Airport. Kerman then flew to Chicago where she met up with Wolters at the Congress Hotel. Wolter tersely explained that she needed her to depart the next morning, smuggling cash to drop off in Brussels. However, Kerman felt obligated to do this for her since Wolters had never asked anything of her.
Deep down she was petrified but agreed to do it. After they got back to the States, Kerman took the first flight out to California and broke all connections she had with Wolters and left her criminal life behind. By 1998, her past, however, had caught up with her that year. Two custom agents visited her at her Greenwich Village apartment to inform her that she had been indicted on drug conspiracy and money laundering charges by a Chicago court.
Her old girlfriend Wolters had been arrested and had given the names of her associates, including Kerman, to the authorities. The U.S. government spent many years trying to extradite the operations ringleader. After all those efforts failed, Kerman’s case could finally move forward.
In December of 2003, Kerman spoke at her sentencing hearing telling the judge, “More than a decade ago I made bad decisions, on both a practical and moral level, and I am prepared to face the consequences of my actions”. Kerman was given a 15-month prison sentence to be carried out at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut.While it seems a bit absurd that Kerman was being in prisoned for a crime, she had committed more than ten years ago, I do believe it was justified.
Yes, what she did was illegal and when you break the law you go to jail. With that being said, I can fully understand why one would think that this was not justified for two reasons