Bioethics Blogs

Orange Is the New Black

For those of us obsessed with the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, the third season has us gobbling up new episodes. It seems like a good time for a book report on the original memoir of the same name, Piper Kerman’s account of the year she spent in a minimum security federal prison, for a drug trafficking offense.   Whether or not you enjoy the series, the book is a great read.   Not surprisingly, the Netflix version diverges from reality in many ways, so you won’t spoil the suspense whether you read the book or see the series first.

As in the series, Kerman falls under the erotic spell of an older woman, “Nora,” and agrees to a single act of money smuggling before she wakes up and splits. Years later, but just before the statute of limitations kicks in, she is arrested, and pleads guilty to money laundering to avoid being charged with conspiracy. On the charge she pleads to, her sentence could be up to 30 months. But rather than sentencing her, sending her to prison and letting her get it over with, the feds keep her hanging for the next six years, during which she can’t leave the country, must report monthly, and doesn’t know when she will be sentenced and how long her sentence will be. (Ironically, the drug kingpin for whom Nora was working was never indicted.) By the time she reported to Danbury prison (the real “Litchfield”) her crime was eleven years in the past.

Of course, one expects a TV drama to ramp up the sex and violence.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.