Orange Is The New Black inspiration Piper Kerman talks real life prison problems

Written by

It was her memoirs that enabled Orange Is The New Black to become the smash-hit phenomenon that we all know and love. Now Piper Kerman has been discussing real life prison problems

Piper Kerman's memoirs provided the inspiration for Netflix's too-popular-for-its-own-good women's prison series, Orange Is The New Black. Her involvement in the smuggling of drug money across international borders eventually caught up with her, as she served 13 months in jail for money laundering. Kerman recently travelled down under, where she conducted a speech in the Sydney Opera House (I know right, good gig), campaigning for an improvement in the U.S. and Aussie prison systems. As reported: "With indigenous people making up just three per cent of the general population, but half of the prison population, Ms Kerman compared their situation to that of black Americans." In response to this shocking truth, Kerman stated: “It’s hard to believe their crimes were worse. They’re treated differently just because that’s the system, because of their lower socioeconomic status or the colour of their skin.”Do you think Samira Wiley's Poussey suffers from this stigma?

Kerman went on to explain the severity of the prison cleanliness problem, citing the day she received 'shower shoes' as protection from the bathroom fungus as a particular low point. She also broached the emotional trauma that comes with jail time: “They penalise women more harshly than men,” she said. “And they’re unlikely to be the only person punished ... the effect on the family is seismic.” Ninety per cent of women in prison have been victimised in some way, by physical or sexual abuse, she said. “Prisons are filled with people who experienced marginalisation long before they walked through those gates,” she said. “Sexual exploitation and abuse is rampant. There’s no justice or accountability.” It's easy to watch the at-times hilariously funny Orange Is The New Black and forget the truths behind the story. Alex and Piper's "tumultuous" relationship, for example, might be entertaining for viewers, but imagine the stress that being in prison would put on such a couple. This may be one of the more sombre articles you will read on melty today, but its topic is no less important. Do you think OITNB accurately depicts these issues?