After she graduated from Smith College, Piper Kerman wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life. Drifting for a while, she became friends with a group of people who were buying and selling drugs in the United States and other countries, too.
Eventually, though, she moved on. It was years later, after she had established a good life with a career and a boyfriend, that she was convicted and sentenced to 15 months at the federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut.
In her book Orange Is the New Black—My Year in a Women’s Prison, she writes about her experiences and the lessons she learned.
“What I discovered was that I am emphatically not alone,” she says. “The people on the outside who wrote and visited every week and traveled long distances to come and tell me that I wasn’t forgotten, that I wasn’t alone, had a tremendous impact on my life.
“However, most of all, I realized that I was not alone in the world because of the women I lived with for over a year, who gave me a dawning recognition of what I shared with them. We shared overcrowded dorms and lack of privacy. We shared eight numbers instead of names, prison khakis, cheap food and hygiene items. Most important, we shared a deep reserve of humor, creativity in adverse circumstances and the will to protect and maintain our humanity despite the prison system’s imperative to crush it….We needed each other….Small kindnesses and simple pleasures shared were so important.”