Piper Kerman was in Vermont today, to talk with the women at the South Burlington prison this afternoon and with students at UVM tonight. She’s the author of Orange is the New Black, her powerful memoir of a year spent in federal prison in Danbury, CT.
The highly regarded Netflix series based on the book will begin its second season on June 6.
Over lunch with a few of us today at August First, Piper talked about what we need to do to fix this broken criminal justice system—particularly sentencing reform (especially of drug laws), and better representation of public defendants. We agree! The evidence is overwhelming that harsh sentencing practices have no positive impact on public safety or individuals’ lives, and waste taxpayers’ money besides. And public defenders are notoriously overworked, with caseloads that sometimes leave them only minutes to meet with a client before entering the courtroom.
We’re so grateful to Piper for sharing her story with us, in her book and in person, especially at the women’s prison, where the turnout filled the gym. And we’re excited that she’ll be back to do a fundraiser for us later in the year! Keep a look-out!
What are we to make of Governor Shumlin's recent focus on opiate addiction in his state-of-the-state address? On the one hand we have the admirable proposal to treat addiction as a public health issue. No argument there; all evidence points to recovery from addiction as a process, as it is from every other illness. On the other hand, the proposal comes embedded in get-tough-on-crime assurances that have troubling echoes.