Orange is the New Black is the story of inmate Piper Chapman in the Litchfield woman’s prison. Not only is the show a hit series on Netflix it is also the true story of Piper Kerman and her experience serving 15 months in federal prison. The series is based on the book, with the same title, Kerman wrote after being released from prison for helping traffic drug money across international boarders. Kerman actually served at the Danbury, CT facility located in western Connecticut. Many elements of the show are very true to Kerman’s story and others are creative licenses taken by the shows creators.
Piper Kerman along with many of the actresses on the popular show are using their recent notoriety for good by bringing awareness to many issues in our US prisons. In a recent interview Kerman talked about wanting to change the publics view on what prison is really like. “People think prison is either this rehabilitative place or this super-violent nightmare. They have no idea the largest growing segment of prisoners are women who have committed incredibly low-level, non-violent crimes for which they are serving long sentences. There’s been an 800 percent increase in female federal inmates in the last 30 years. We’re sending people to prison who we never would have before.” (SFgate.com) Kerman also serves on the board of the Woman’s Prison Association and frequently speaks at events about the topic.
Taylor Schilling the actress who plays the role of Piper has also spoken out about issues that plague women’s prisons and what she’s doing to help improve conditions and help incarcerated woman.”People who are working on alternatives to incarceration and working with women who are transitioning from prison life back to civilian life are really finding value in the show, that it’s giving the population they’ve been working so hard for a name and a voice.” (gothamist.com) Schilling said this at a recent panel for powerful woman in Television. Do you think OITNB can help bring changes to the US prison system?
This week a Michigan woman’s prison opted to change the color of the inmates jumpsuits from orange to black and white stripes because authorities think orange is becoming too “fashionable” due to the popular show. Do you agree with this action?