Peering into prison: Piper Kerman comes to DePauw University


Piper Kerman, author of "Orange
is the New Black," will deliver 
an Ubben Lecture Wednesday.

DePauw students, faculty and Greencastle residents are preparing to get a peek at prison life on Wednesday.

Piper Kerman, author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller, "Orange is the New Black: My Year in Women’s Prison," will give an Ubben Lecture titled, “Lessons Behind Bars,” tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium.

Her experiences in prison serve as the basis for not only her memoir, but also the hit Netflix series, which shares a title with her book.  Kerman spent a year in prison for felony charges of money-laundering.

Junior Hunter Wilson hopes that her lecture, “stays away from the hype built around the show and focuses more on the issues raised in her book and talks about her personal work with the female prison system.”

Kerman allocates much of her time to prison reform.  She addressed the Senate in Washington, DC in February of 2014 to discuss the difference in experiences between men and women during their time in prison.  A major talking point of hers is the lack of regulations surrounding solitary confinement and the effects it has on female prisoners.

During this past winter term, a class was offered on campus entitled, “Is Orange the new Black?  Women and Incarceration.”  Alicia Suarez, Associate Professor of Sociology at DePauw taught the winter term class.

The class discussed the incarceration of women and compared articles they read in class on the subject to the show on Netflix.

Freshman Anna Abrahamson, a student in the class, said, “I’m excited to hear about her experience in prison and how her race, class and socioeconomic status affected her.”

Sophomore Lex Gaumer will be comparing Kerman's story to the plot of the T.V. show on Wednesday.

 “It’s a cool opportunity since her story has been the basis for a huge Netflix show,” said Gaumer. “We can see how credible the show is in relaying her actual experience.

The Ubben Lecture series are made possible through the support of Timothy and Sharon Ubben. Kerman's lecture is the third Ubben Lecture of the 2014-2015 academic year. The event will be free and open to the public.