Newly graduated from Smith College, Kerman describes herself as a "girl looking for trouble." And, boy, did she find it! She stupidly gets involved with a woman who is a key player in an international drug trafficking ring. Wined, dined and living the high life while traveling the world with her shadey new friends, she never was directly involved in the drug deals themselves. That is, until she agreed to deliver a large cash payment for drugs. The feds eventually catch up with her, and she is indicted for drug smuggling and money laundering. She spent six years under supervision by the feds while the U.S. tried to extradite the West African drug kingpin, so that she could testify against him. Finally, 10 years after she had committed her crime, she is sentenced to 15 months in a minimum security women's federal correctional facility in Danbury, Ct.
In Orange is the New Black
, Kerman tells the story of her long months in prison, relating descriptions of the other women she lived with, some funny, some sad. Very poignant and touching were the networks of "families" that were established by the women for support, advice, psuedo-mothering, and just simple items that were considered luxuries, such as toiletries and real food. Friends that she made while in prison helped her survive, cope, and come to the realization that her selfish, careless lifestyle had enabled many of these women to indulge in their drug habits which eventually landed them in jail. Along with the remorse that she felt over the pain that she had put her family and fiance through.
Kerman also offers her readers revealing insights into the criminal justice system, the reasons so many people are sent to prison, and what happens to them while incarcerated. Its no wonder a large percentage of those imprisoned end up back in prison or homeless, because the system offers them no prerelease training or help in entering mainstream economy or finding real jobs. Orange is the New Black
is warmly and sympathetically written - a real eye-opener. In this Book TV interview, Piper Kerman talks about her book and the precariousness of life - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYF2cxY9VAU