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 48)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.[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)
Website piperkerman.com

Piper Eressea Kerman[2] (born September 28, 1969) is an American writer who had been convicted of felony money-laundering charges. Her memoir on her experiences in prison, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison, was adapted into the critically acclaimed Netflix original comedy-drama series Orange Is the New Black.

Since her leaving prison, Kerman has spoken widely about women in corrections facilities, and about her experiences there. Kerman is now working as a communications strategist for nonprofits.

Early life and education[edit]

Kerman was born in Boston[1] into a family with many attorneys, doctors, and educators.[1] She graduated from Swampscott High School in Swampscott, Massachusetts in 1987,[3] and Smith College in 1992.[4] She is a self-described WASP (although her paternal grandfather was Russian Jewish).[4][5]

Criminal career[edit]

In 1993, Kerman became romantically involved with Catherine Cleary Wolters (Nora Janson in her memoir),[6] a heroin dealer working for an alleged Nigerian kingpin.[7][8] Kerman laundered money for the drug operation.[7]

In 1998, Kerman was indicted for money laundering and drug trafficking; she subsequently pleaded guilty.[7] Beginning in 2004, she served 13 months of a 15-month sentence at FCI Danbury, a minimum security prison located in Danbury, Connecticut.[9]

During her sentence, the website "The Pipe Bomb" was set up to document her life behind bars.[10]

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, with Spiegel & Grau in 2010. A television adaptation of the same name created by Jenji Kohan, the Emmy award-winning creator of Weeds, debuted on July 11, 2013 on Netflix. Kerman's character in the series ("Piper Chapman") is played by Taylor Schilling. The series was renewed for a fourth season on April 15, 2015, before the third season premiered on June 11, 2015.[11] A fifth season was released on June 6, 2017. Orange is the New Black has received critical acclaim and won four Emmy Awards.[12][13]

Kerman serves on the board of the Women's Prison Association and is frequently invited to speak to students of creative writing, criminology, gender and women's studies, law, and sociology, as well as to groups, such as 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.[citation needed]

On February 10, 2014, Kerman received the 2014 Justice Trailblazer Award from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Center on Media, Crime & Justice.[14]

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 Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin.[15]

On August 4, 2015, Kerman testified at a hearing on "Oversight of the Bureau of Prisons: First-Hand Accounts of Challenges Facing the Federal Prison System" before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chaired by Senator Ron Johnson.[16]

Since 2015, Kerman has worked as a communications strategist for nonprofits.[17]

Since her prison sentence, Kerman has spoken publicly many times on behalf of women in corrections and about her experience.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Kerman has stated, "I'm bisexual, so I'm a part of the gay community".[19] She says she came out of the closet around 18 years old and has identified as a lesbian for most of her youth.[20] On May 21, 2006,[2] Kerman married writer Larry Smith,[2] who created the popular concept of Six-Word Memoirs.[21][20]

In a May 2015 interview with the Columbus Dispatch,[22] Kerman confirmed that she and Smith are living in Columbus, Ohio, and that she is teaching writing classes at the Marion Correctional Institution and the Ohio Reformatory for Women in nearby Marysville, Ohio.[23]




  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. ^ Solomon, Jared (November 2, 2013). "'Orange is the New Black' Author is Blue". Patch. Retrieved December 4, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Young, Robin (July 29, 2013). "The Woman Behind 'Orange is the New Black'". WBUR-FM. Boston University. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  5. ^ Kerman, Piper (April 11, 2013). "Response on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved January 12, 2015. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Segur, Liliana (April 1, 2010). "Orange Is the New Black: A Year in a Women's Prison". Truthout. Retrieved May 8, 2010. 
  9. ^ Grose, Jessica (April 8, 2010). "What's a Nice Blonde Like Me Doing in Prison?". Slate. 
  10. ^ Paige, Rachel (July 23, 2015). "How Long Was Piper In Prison In Real Life? The 'Orange Is The New Black' Author Documented Her Time With A Website". Bustle. Retrieved April 13, 2016. 
  11. ^ 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 
  12. ^ "Why Netflix Renewed 'Orange is the New Black' for Three Seasons". Indiewire. February 5, 2016. Retrieved Mary 11, 2018.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  13. ^ "Awards Search". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved May 11, 2018. 
  14. ^ "2014 Justice Trailblazer Award Dinner - Honoring Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black". jjay.cuny.edu. February 10, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Testimony of Piper Kerman, author, Orange is the New Black". YouTube. February 26, 2014. Retrieved April 20, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Testimony of Piper Kerman, author, Orange is the New Black". Senate. August 4, 2015. Retrieved August 4, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Piper Kerman". CityArts.net. 
  18. ^ http://piperkerman.com/events/
  19. ^ Lynn Yeldell. "The REAL Piper of Orange is the New Black". L Style G Style. 
  20. ^ a b Lynn Yeldell (May 9, 2014). "The REAL Piper of Orange is the New Black". L Style G Style. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  21. ^ PopTech (2010). "Larry Smith's six-word project". PopTech. Retrieved April 20, 2014. 
  22. ^ Jeannie Nuss. "'Orange Is the New Black' author Piper Kerman shares her story in Westerville". The Columbus Dispatch. 
  23. ^ Nuss, Jeannie (May 31, 2015). "Author of 'Orange Is The New Black' explains move to Columbus". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved May 31, 2015. 

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Teresa Giudice, reality star and media personality whose prison memoir, Turning the Tables (2015), describes her 15-month incarceration from 2015 to 2016, for fraud, at the Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury, CT
  • Martha Stewart, celebrity who was incarcerated from 2004 to 2005, for offenses related to insider trading, at Federal Prison Camp, Alderson, WV