Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is The New Black, the book that inspired the hit Netflix show, testified before Congress on 4 August to highlight disparities in the US criminal justice system. Speaking to the Senate Homeland Safety and Governmental Affairs Committee, Kerman told lawmakers that a ten-year sentence for drug trafficking, such as the one she previously received, does little to prevent future crimes.
"It's hard to believe that there was a lot of social benefit to the community drawn from my incarceration. It prevented no new crimes," Kerman said.
Kerman, whose book details her year in a Connecticut federal prison for a drug trafficking conviction, has been vocal about the mistreatment of women in federal prisons and the disparity in sentences for poorer people and minorities.
"The only conclusion I could draw was [members of minorities] were treated much more harshly by the American criminal justice system than I had been treated because of socio-economic reasons, differences in class and in some cases because of the colour of their skin," Kerwin testified.
"One of the things that was so striking to me, the very first day that I spent in prison, was that so many of the women that I was incarcerated with and I would spend a great deal of time with were serving much harsher sentences than I was and as the days and the weeks and the months went on and I came to know those other women really well, it was impossible for me to believe that their crimes were so much more serious than mine."