Kerman at the University of Missouri in 2014
Piper Eressea Kerman
September 28, 1969
|Alma mater||Smith College|
|Occupation||Writer, author, memoirist|
|Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison|
Larry Smith (m. 2006)
Piper Eressea Kerman (born September 28, 1969) is an American writer who was indicted in 1998 on charges of felonious money-laundering activities and sentenced to 15 months' detention in a federal correctional facility, of which she eventually served 13. Her memoir of her prison experiences, 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 leaving prison, Kerman has spoken widely about women in jail and about her own experiences there. She now works as a communication strategist for non-profit organizations.
Early life and education
Kerman was born in Boston into a family which included many attorneys, doctors, and educators. She graduated from Swampscott High School in Swampscott, Massachusetts in 1987, and Smith College in 1992. She is a self-described WASP (although her paternal grandfather was Russian Jewish).
In 1993, Kerman became romantically involved with Catherine Cleary Wolters (Nora Janson in her memoir), a heroin dealer working for an alleged Nigerian kingpin. Kerman laundered money for the drug operation.
In 1998, Kerman was indicted for money laundering and drug trafficking; she subsequently pleaded guilty. Beginning in 2004, she served 13 months of a 15-month sentence at FCI Danbury, a minimum security prison located in Danbury, Connecticut.
During her sentence, the website "The Pipe Bomb" was set up to document her life behind bars.
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. A fifth season was released on June 6, 2017. The sixth season was released on July 27, 2018. Orange is the New Black has received critical acclaim and won four Emmy Awards.
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.
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.
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.
Since 2015, Kerman has worked as a communications strategist for nonprofits.
Since her prison sentence, Kerman has spoken publicly many times on behalf of women in corrections and about her experience.
Kerman has stated, "I'm bisexual, so I'm a part of the gay community". She came out around the age of 18 and identified as a lesbian for most of her youth. On May 21, 2006, Kerman married writer Larry Smith. Kerman and Smith live in Columbus, Ohio, and she teaches writing classes at the Marion Correctional Institution and the Ohio Reformatory for Women in nearby Marysville, Ohio.
- Lee Ball, Aimee (August 2, 2013). "Prison Life, Real and Onscreen". The New York Times.
- "Piper Kerman and Larry Smith". The New York Times. May 21, 2006.
- Solomon, Jared (November 2, 2013). "'Orange is the New Black' Author is Blue". Patch. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
- Young, Robin (July 29, 2013). "The Woman Behind 'Orange is the New Black'". WBUR-FM. Boston University. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Kerman, Piper (April 11, 2013). "Response on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
- 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.
- Segur, Liliana (April 1, 2010). "Orange Is the New Black: A Year in a Women's Prison". Truthout. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
- Grose, Jessica (April 8, 2010). "What's a Nice Blonde Like Me Doing in Prison?". Slate.
- 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.
- 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
- "Why Netflix Renewed 'Orange is the New Black' for Three Seasons". Indiewire. February 5, 2016. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
- "Awards Search". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
- "2014 Justice Trailblazer Award Dinner - Honoring Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black". jjay.cuny.edu. February 10, 2014.
- "Testimony of Piper Kerman, author, Orange is the New Black". YouTube. February 26, 2014. Retrieved April 20, 2014.
- "Testimony of Piper Kerman, author, Orange is the New Black". Senate. August 4, 2015. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
- "Piper Kerman". CityArts.net.
- Lynn Yeldell. "The REAL Piper of Orange is the New Black". L Style G Style. Archived from the original on June 17, 2017. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
- Jeannie Nuss. "'Orange Is the New Black' author Piper Kerman shares her story in Westerville". The Columbus Dispatch.
- Nuss, Jeannie (May 31, 2015). "Author of 'Orange Is The New Black' explains move to Columbus". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
- Official website
- thepipebomb.com - The website about her incarceration (mentioned in location 945/4958 of the OITNB ebook)
- Piper Kerman on IMDb
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- "Ubben Lecture". DePauw University. February 4, 2005.
- 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