Piper Kerman

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Piper Kerman
Piper Kerman University of Missouri book signing (cropped).jpg
Kerman at the University of Missouri in 2014
Born Piper Eressea Kerman
(1969-09-28) September 28, 1969 (age 45)
Boston, Massachusetts[1]
Alma mater Smith College
Occupation Writer, author, memoirist
Notable work Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
Spouse(s) Larry Smith (m. 2006)

Piper Eressea Kerman[2] (born September 28, 1969) is an American memoirist whose experiences in prison on felony money-laundering charges provided the basis for the comedy-drama series Orange Is the New Black.

Early life and education[edit]

Piper Kerman was born in Boston[1] into a family with many doctors, attorneys and educators.[1] She graduated from Smith College[3] in 1992.

Kerman is a self-described WASP (though her paternal grandfather was Russian Jewish).[3][4]

Criminal career[edit]

In 1993, she entered into a romantic relationship with a woman who dealt heroin for a West African kingpin.[5][6] Kerman laundered money for the drug operation.[5]

In 1998, Kerman was indicted for money laundering and drug trafficking and subsequently pleaded guilty.[5] Beginning in 2004, she served 13 months of a 15-month sentence at FCI Danbury, a minimum security prison located in Danbury, Connecticut.[7]

Later career[edit]

Kerman published her best-selling memoir about her experiences in prison, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison, in 2010. An adaptation of the same name by Jenji Kohan, the Emmy award-winning creator of Weeds, debuted in July 2013 on Netflix. Kerman's character in the series ("Piper Chapman") is played by Taylor Schilling. The program was renewed for a third season before season 2 premiered.[8]

Kerman serves on the board of the Women's Prison Association and is a frequently invited speaker to students of law, criminology, gender and women's studies, sociology, and creative writing, and also to groups that include the American Correctional Association's Disproportionate Minority Confinement Task Force, federal probation officers, public defenders, justice reform advocates and volunteers, book clubs, and formerly and currently incarcerated people.

On February 25, 2014, Kerman testified at a hearing on "Reassessing Solitary Confinement" before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights chaired by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin.[9]

Kerman was the 2014 recipient of the Justice Trailblazer Award from the John Jay College Center on Media, Crime & Justice.[10]

At present, Kerman works as a communications strategist for nonprofits.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Kerman has stated, "I’m bisexual so, I’m a part of the gay community". She says she came out of the closet at "either 18 or 19" and identified as a lesbian for most of her youth. Kerman says she had relationships with many women, and her husband Larry Smith, a writer,[2] and creator of the popular concept of Six-Word Memoirs,[12] is "the only guy I’ve ever dated."[13] Kerman and Smith married on May 21, 2006.[2]




  1. ^ a b c Lee Ball, Aimee (August 2, 2013). "Prison Life, Real and Onscreen". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b c "Piper Kerman and Larry Smith". The New York Times. May 21, 2006. 
  3. ^ a b "The Woman Behind 'Orange Is The New Black'". 90.9 WBUR. July 29, 2013. 
  4. ^ https://twitter.com/Piper/status/322346590687858690
  5. ^ a b c Humphrey, Michael (March 25, 2010). "Ex-Convict Piper Kerman on Her Hot New Memoir, Orange Is the New Black". New York Magazine. Retrieved May 8, 2010. 
  6. ^ Segura, Liliana (April 1, 2010). "Orange Is the New Black: A Year in a Women's Prison". Truthout. Retrieved May 8, 2010. 
  7. ^ "What's a Nice Blonde Like Me Doing in Prison?", Slate, Jessica Grose, April 8, 2010
  8. ^ Seriófilo (June 6, 2014), Habrá 3 temporada de Orange is the new black, renovada: estreno en primavera 2015. Netflix nos extiende la condena a disfrutar de la serie 
  9. ^ "Testimony of Piper Kerman, author, "Orange is the New Black"". YouTube. February 26, 2014. Retrieved April 20, 2014. 
  10. ^ http://www.jjay.cuny.edu/7144.php
  11. ^ Piper Kerman
  12. ^ PopTech (2010). "Larry Smith's six-word project". PopTech. Retrieved April 20, 2014. 
  13. ^ Lynn Yeldell (May 9, 2014). "The REAL Piper of Orange is the New Black". L Style G Style. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 

External links[edit]