This is an interesting memoir by Piper Kerman, a graduate from prestigious Smith College, who finds herself hanging with the wrong crowd and ultimately commits a minor drug-related offense that she calls "the stupidest, most immoral thing" she has ever done. Several years later, she re-invents herself and falls in love with a great man, only to find out that the justice system has caught up with her and she is sentenced to spend time in a minimum security institution. This memoir recounts the events leading up to her sentencing and her time in a variety of penal institutions and details the way of life behind bars, the people she got to know, and the ways in which she keeps herself occupied during her time. Kerman notes that she is one of the privileged few behind bars that has a support system on the outside and points out the differences in her life versus the larger prison populace who may not have the same luxuries that she enjoyed. I found this to be an informative and fascinating look at life on the inside of the US federal prison system.
I was very interested in the real life description of federal prison for women. The author did a good job of portraying sympathetic characters for those she made friends with in the correctional facilities she stayed in. She endured a real punishment, though, don't mistake it. She did not have her freedom, and I feel she felt that keenly. In a way, I believe the author even learned a life lesson, as she met a sampling of real women who were negatively impacted by the drug trade that the author took part of and was finally incarcerated for.
I read quite a few negative reviews of this book before I read it. Mostly reviewers were saying that the author didn't really suffer, as she had an amazing support system of family and friends who visited her, financial support, and a job waiting for her when she got out.
I think she did a fairly superior job of portraying a wide range of feelings and essentially laid bare her nervousness, fear, trepidation, humor, anger, happiness, and loneliness. She did a fine job on this book.
This book gave a very good description of a woman's prison camp - not a jail or a prison, but a prison camp. There are definate differences between the three. Although all three lean toward rules and regulations, a prison camp allows more freedoms and opportunities than the other two. Kerman does give glimpes of life in a jail and a second hand account of being locked in a prison, but her experience was almost exclusively in the prison camp. There are guards in all three places for a variety of reasons, not all of which is for the profit, comfort, or rehabilitation of the prisoner. Kerman spoke about this type of prison guard, although her experience was pretty run of the mill because she was there to do her time, and not to create problems. Kerman was repaying her debt to society years after the fact, and at 35 yrs old was petrified to be incarcerated. Due to the helping hand of many of the people she profiles in her book, she adjusted well to life in the camp. Her sentence - relatively short in comparison to those she became close to - went by without a lot of problems until weeks before her "out" date, when she got the shocking full effect of time in a large city jail. Kerman had a lot of friends, family and a fiance' who helped to keep her sane during her incarceration, although the loss of a loved one brought out the realism of her situation. Written in an open, honest way, Kerman gives the details of her incarceration in Danbury Connecticut's woman's federal correction facility during her 15 month imprisonment.
This was a wonderful book (memoir) of Piper Kerman's 15 months in a womens prison. It was both fascinating and heartfelt, and very informative. Makes you want to be a good girl for the rest of your life.
This book was not at all what I expected. Piper does NOT portray herself as a victim or martyr, but as a woman among women doing time. I found it very interesting and heartwarming. Well done!