Piper Kerman at YCP

This past Tuesday, September 26, Piper Kerman, the author of Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison spoke at York College of Pennsylvania in the Waldner Performing Arts Center. The event was part of the Vizzi Family Lectureship series in Leadership Excellence. YCP was ecstatic to understand how her experiences at a Federal Correction Institution in Danbury, CT, helped her become who she is today.


Kerman delivered an inspiring lecture on how bad decisions can lead to horrible consequences. Involved with a woman who dealt in narcotics, Kerman carried money from Chicago to Brussels, but did not understand the cost of her actions until much later.


She was sentenced to 15 months at a correctional institute where she would spend her days with a community of women for 13 months. At first, she was afraid when she entered the correctional institute, but learned that some friendships can last a lifetime. Kerman voiced that each inmate is given a number and her number was 11187-424, which gives the sense that you are nothing but a number. In prison, your identity seems to become lost by forcing you to wear the same clothes. It makes you feel like livestock in a pen, but in this case the pen is prison.


However, the community of women she met became a part of her family. Kerman voiced how the women at the Federal Correction Institute in Danbury were very supportive on her first day in prison by making sure she had the essentials to survive such as toothpaste, soap, and shower shoes. Even in a dark place, you can still find a light at the end of the tunnel. Her lecture explained that the compassion of strangers and genuine friendship can have a large impact on your life.