‘Orange is the New Black’ author to speak about prison encounters

Katie Mest, Staff Writer, K.A.Mest@iup.edu

IUP will welcome acclaimed author Piper Kerman to campus at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Fisher Auditorium.

Sponsored by the Student Activity Committee and the Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement, the Six O’Clock Series will host the best-selling author of “Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison.” 

Kerman will talk about her prison encounters and what she learned along the way.

Brianna Drylie, the IUP assistant director for program coordination, communication and assessment, arranged for the social justice advocate to speak to students.

“I am personally a fan of ‘Orange is the New Black’ the book and the Netflix series,” Drylie said, “and, after seeing the last season, I thought that it would be nice to try to bring in someone involved with that because it addresses a number of current issues and themes happening in America today.”

Kerman was indicted in 1998 for drug trafficking and money laundering due to her involvement with a woman who was part of a drug ring.

Piper Kerman’s memoir was turned into a Netflix series.

She remained in the clear until 2004, when she spent a year in the Federal Correction Institution, Danbury, in Danbury, Conn.

She turned her experience into a memoir, which was published in 2010.

She told the stories of the different kinds of women she met, and problems with the prison system that she noticed while serving her time.

After Kerman was released, she testified about the Federal Bureau of Prisons and fought for change.

Now, Kerman serves on the board of directors of the Women’s Prison Association and works with many organizations that work in the public’s best interest.

Students that come to see her speak can expect to hear issues that both the book and the
movie address.

“The United States has a very high percentage of prisoners as compared to its percentage of the total world population,” Drylie said. “Piper is a big supporter of justice reform. I think that for someone who is not aware of some of these facts and statistics, it can be pretty mind-blowing once you hear them broken down.

“She touches on many different subjects, including law, criminology, gender and women’s studies, sociology and creative writing. I think her presentation will provide value for any student, regardless of their major or interests.”

The popular Netflix original series first aired in 2013. Its sixth season will be released June 9.