ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK: My Year in a Woman’s Prison

orangePIPER KERMAN

Five years after having carried a bag of money across international borders for her drug dealing girl friend Kerman was charged with money laundering. Kerman was just out of college when she met “what seemed like an incredibly sophisticated older woman. And what I learned, rather quickly, was that she was involved in drug trafficking, and rather than that scaring me off, that was, you know, sort of scary but also intriguing to me.” Together they lived a jet setting life of first class travel and the best hotels. “I ended up following that woman around the globe, and at her request, I did carry a bag of drug money from Chicago to Brussels.” Soon after she ended the relationship and returned to the States to start her life over. Her arrest came out of the blue.  “The police let me know that I had been indicted in federal court in Chicago, and I had better show up for my arraignment or I’d be taken into custody. That began my journey through the American criminal justice system.”

“One of the indelible things that I came away with from my experience in prison was a much more profound understanding of inequality in American society, and how that plays out in our courts of law. Some Americans are policed in a certain way, other Americans are policed in a different way, prosecuted in a different way, and sentenced and punished in different ways. And that is often due to race, class, access to counsel, you know, really, really important issues of inequality that play out in a place where we really expect everyone to be treated equally, which is the courtroom.”

Orange is well worth the read even if you have seen the TV show on Netflix.

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