Rape, trafficking drugs and prison

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More than a decade had passed since I committed that crime, so you know, karmas a bitch.

Members of the larger UVM community gathered in the Grand Maple Ballroom March 25 to hear Piper Kerman speak.

Kerman served 13 months at the federal prison Danbury Correctional Institution for involvement in drug trafficking.

Her experiences in the system inspired the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black.”

Kermans memoir of the same name, Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Womens Prison,is the first-hand recount of her experiences.

First-year Sophia Ambrosino said she was impressed with the focus of Kermans talk.

A lot of people went [to the talk] to find out about the show, but she wasnt here to talk about that, she said.

Kerman spoke candidly about her experience within the prison system. She said she believes there are serious issues with the system when it comes to putting women behind bars.

She identified several themes that she had observed while in prison, two of which being race and class.

You can’t talk about prison in the U.S. and not talk about race,she said.

Based on her experience, Kerman said that women should not take for granted access to a safe and stable home.

The criminal justice system treats certain women differently. They are policed, prosecuted and sentenced differently, she said.

Kerman went on to give what she said were three solutions to make a difference in the prison system.

Steps included common sense sentencing, public defense reform and the focus on children in the system.

There are far too many children who are tried for crimes and given adult-length sentences, Kerman said.

First-year Clara Irving said that she watches the Netflix series, and she really liked Kerman and what she is doing and she thought that it was interesting.

She is trying to raise awareness about the prison system and about who’s going into prison and what’s happening to them when they get out,she said.

The first-year said her only complaint was that the talk wasn’t as personal as she hoped.

When asked how she would respond to those that claim her memoir is an exploitation of the prison system for her own gain Kerman had an answer.

The book wasn’t about the money. I have the right to tell my story, she said.

My only true financial gain from this experience was the $0.23 an hour I made from my prison jobs, she said.