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Tuesday, April 25, 2017
11:00am to 1:00pm

The Sentinel
614 SW 11th Avenue
Portland OR 97205

Featuring Keynote Speaker: Piper Kermanpiper

Piper Kerman’s best-selling memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison chronicles what the author calls her “crucible experience”—the 13 months she spent in the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut. A brief dalliance with drug trafficking while she was in her early twenties sent Kerman to prison ten years later on money laundering charges. In her compelling, moving and often hilarious book, she explores the experience of incarceration and the intersection of her life with the lives of the women she met while in prison: their friendships and families, mental illnesses and substance abuse issues, cliques and codes of behavior. What has stuck with her the most from her experience, Kerman says, is the power of women’s communities, “the incredible ability of women to step up for each other, and to be resilient and to share their resiliency with other people.”

The book also raises provocative questions about the state of criminal justice in America, and how incarceration affects the individual and communities throughout the nation.

“We have the biggest prison population in the world. We have the biggest prison population in human history here in the United States…Our prison population has grown from 500,000 in 1980 to 2.4 million today. It’s been massive growth. The fastest-growing segment of our criminal justice system and that prison population has been women. Female incarceration has risen by 800 percent in this country…I believe that we’ve reached a point in this country where most people are questioning whether we have made the best choices.”

—Piper Kerman

The memoir was adapted into a critically acclaimed Netflix series of the same name by Jenji Kohan. The Emmy and Peabody Award-winning show has been called “the best TV show about prison ever made” by The Washington Post and was lauded by Time’s TV critic James Poniewozik for “the stunningly matter-of-fact way it uses the prison to create one of TV’s most racially and sexually diverse–and as important, complex–dramas [and] contrasts the power and class dynamics inside the prison with those outside the prison.”

Since her release, Kerman has worked tirelessly to promote the cause of prison and criminal justice reform. She works with nonprofits, philanthropies, and other organizations working in the public interest and serves on the board of directors of the Women’s Prison Association and the advisory boards of InsideOUT Writers and JustLeadershipUSA. She has been called as a witness by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights to testify on solitary confinement and women prisoners, and by the U.S. Senate Governmental Affairs and Homeland Security Committee to testify about the federal Bureau of Prisons.

We invite you to support the 2017 Inspire Luncheon and to join us as we celebrate a century-long legacy in the Portland community.