I just finished Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman and I’m officially putting it on my imaginary list of books that really make me think.
I am a fan of the Netflix show and of course I binge watched both seasons as soon as they arrived in the queue. (I also once accosted Dascha Polanco on the street to beg for more episodes.) The thing I really like about the show is the way it tells the personal stories of the inmates and how they ended up behind bars. It’s also well-written and the actors are some of the best in the industry. However, the book filled in some gaps for me that I haven’t grasped from watching the TV show.
While the book is a memoir about Piper Kerman’s crime and subsequent incarceration, she spends a great deal of time explaining and addressing federal minimum sentencing and the number of non-violent offenders currently behind bars. I was kinda sorta aware of this, just from years of reporting on crime and politics and random reading. But reading Orange is the New Black has really stirred something in me. After finishing, I did a little extra investigation and read through the two websites set up by/for Piper:
Both contained valuable information and by following links through to other sites I was able to contact my own senator to ask her to continue working toward smarter federal sentencing reform. Here is an informational flyer I found via the Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) website:
Mandatory Minimum Sentences: What they are, why they matter, and how you can get involved (.pdf)
This is something I plan to keep an eye on and learn more about.