The real Piper from Orange is the New Black just testified in Congress about the state of the US prison system

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Wednesday 05 August 2015 11:00
news

Netflix's Orange is the New Black is such an engrossing show it can be easy to forget that the series is based on a real story.

But Piper Kerman, the author of 'Orange is the New Black', a memoir about her experiences at a Connecticut prison where she served 13 months on drug-trafficking charges, is determined to make sure people remember the serious message behind both her book and the show.

In a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on Tuesday, Kerman had a blunt message for lawmakers, telling them her sentence for the decade-old drug crime did nothing to help the community or prevent more crime.

It's hard, however, to believe that there was a lot of social benefit to the community drawn from my incarceration. It prevented no new crimes.

If any member of this committee had the opportunity to meet the hundreds of women that I did time with, you would probably walk away from getting to know those women with a deep feeling that their confinement in a prison cell was just a colossal waste, and not an appropriate way in intervening in the things that put them in the criminal justice system.

Advertisements for the third season of 'Orange is the New Black' in Times Square, New York.

Kerman is an active campaigner for justice system and prison reform, and testified in 2014 in front of the Senate Judiciary committee about the effects of solitary confinement in prison.

Barack Obama has made tackling the problems in the US justice system one of the major focuses of the rest of his term as president. The issue has garnered bipartisan support in the last few years and a bill to overhaul the criminal justice system is expected to tabled in the near future.

Piper Kerman with Taylor Schilling, who plays her character on the show.

More: Orange Is The New Black facts to mark the release of Season 3

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