Real Life Piper From ‘Orange is the New Black’ Tells Congress Women of Color Have it Harder in Prisons


Actress Taylor Schilling and author Piper Kerman, Oct. 2, 2013
Image: Nate Beckett/Splash News/Corbis

Who ever knew there was a real life “Piper” out there? I sure didn’t. Apparently, the hit Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” is totally based off of the real life Piper Kerman’s story. Kerman, author of ‘Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison,’ which inspired the Netflix series, testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today during a hearing on the challenges facing the federal prison system, and it was damn good.

Here’s why I’m here for Piper:

According to, she got in front of Congress and told it like it was; pointing out that the system disproportionately impacts low-income women and women of color.


“One of the things that was so striking to me the very first day that I spent in prison was that so many of the women that I was incarcerated with who I would spend a great deal of time with were serving much harsher sentences than I was. In fact the only conclusion I could draw was that they had been treated much more harshly by the American criminal justice system…in some cases because of the color of their skin,” she told lawmakers.


Kerman also touched on other important issues such as sexual harassment, lack of information on reproductive health, mental health and substance abuse. Needless to say, her candor was appreciated, if not by lawmakers, by people like me and those who are behind bars or have family members behind bars. These conversations are important. Now for some action Congress!

To watch the video of her speech, click here.


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