In the Drug Policy Alliance’s third installment of its 2015 Telephone Town Hall series, which is designed to expand the breadth and depth of those concerned with ending the drug war, the organization’s Movement Building Team presented Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black. She was interviewed by DPA’s grants program director, asha bandele.
Ms. Kerman spoke about her experience in prison and her decision to write a memoir, but the focus of the conversation was more generally about women, mass incarceration and policy reform. She discussed the exponential increase in the incarceration of women and its impact on families, and she discussed the disproportionate impact of the criminal justice system on poor women of color. She noted that while her story generated attention because of the assumption that an upper middle class white woman couldn’t do something criminal, she believed that narrative to be a false one, but she is trying to use the space she’s been given to ensure that all women who’ve been impacted by mass incarceration are seen as fully human before the world.
Ms. Kerman honed in on reforming drug sentencing laws as the key to keeping women out of prison and keeping families together; and she fielded questions from formerly incarcerated people, advocates, and fans of her memoir and the show alike.