Have you seen Orange is the New Black on Netflix? (if not you should definitely check it out!) I started watching it because I love Laura Prepon from That 70’s Show. After watching the first episode, I was hooked. I went on a three day Orange is the New Black binder…and then I was done with the first season and I was totally craving more! ( I also had a huge TV hangover because I watched it after Jack went to bed and was staying up until 2am.)
The show is based on the book Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman. I decided to download the book this summer, but didn’t get to it until I went on maternity leave. I raced through the book quickly and although it didn’t follow the show at all, I loved it.
Orange is the New Black follows the author, a 35 year old upper middle class WASP, through a year in a minimum security prison and tells the tale of what she did 10 years prior to put herself there. The story is filled with incredible characters and how they help each other through the monotonous and sometimes dangerous days of being a woman in the federal prison system. The book was funny, but also dark and shocking in spots.
I was appalled when I read about the behavior of some of the prison staff. Guards with complete power and control, and inmates with virtually no rights, which lead to physical and sexual abuse that went unreported. Another fact that shocked me was that many people in minimum security facilities are locked up for 10+ years due to non violent crimes (mostly drug related) and are doing more time than someone convicted of rape or assault. That seems absolutely bananas to me. I don’t claim to know anything about the prison system, aside from reading this book, but it doesn’t seem like we are preparing people or trying to better them during their stay in the system for re entry into society.
What really struck a cord with me is that according to the Women’s Prison Association (quoted at the end of the book) nearly 2/3 of all women incarcerated are mothers. What happens to these children? How do we help the mother’s be better for their kids after they are returned to society?
I laughed, I cried, I saw things from a different perspective. I am really glad I read this book. It is a story of change and survival, which I think most people can relate to.
I’m looking for some new reads! Comment below if you have read anything good lately!