Orange Is the New Black Author Piper Kerman to Speak in Miami

Award-winning author Piper Kerman is busting out of her frozen New York digs and making her way to the Magic City, which happens to be one of her favorite places to visit.

Kerman, who wrote Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Woman's Prison, will stop by to deliver the keynote speech at an event for the National Council of Jewish Women - Greater Miami section.

"I live in New York City, so it's actually rare to visit an American city which feels as multicultural and exciting as New York, but Miami is definitely one of those," Kerman said. "Not to mention much better weather."

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Kerman will speak to members and guests at the NCJW's annual Woman of Valor Event and Fundraiser on Wednesday, Feb. 12. The year's Woman of Valor honoree is Constance Collins, the founder and executive director of Lotus House, a holistic shelter that addresses the needs of women, youths, and children experiencing homelessness in Miami.

"It's a great honor for a service organization like that to be interested in hearing a little bit more about my experience and my work, so I was thrilled to be asked," Kerman said, adding that Collins' important work relates to issues of incarceration in many ways.

Published in 2010, Kerman's book details the 12 months she spent in Danbury Correctional Facility for a drug-related crime she committed 10 years earlier. Kerman's dark and humorous accounts of the women she met while incarcerated made the memoir a New York Times bestseller and was adapted into the hugely successful Netflix series, Orange is the New Black in 2013.

Kerman, who serves on the board of the Women's Prison Association, is a frequent invited speaker to groups including federal probation public defenders, justice reform advocates, and formerly and currently incarcerated people. The popularity of Orange Is the New Black has brought even more attention to U.S. prison system, one of Kerman's motivations for writing the book.

"We have the biggest prison population in the world and in human history, and particularly women have been the fastest growing segment in the prison population for decades -- an 800 percent increase in incarceration of women since the 1980s," Kerman said. "So anything that makes this hidden issue, this hidden problem more visible and something that people are more interested in talking about and thinking about is really important. I'm just really happy that groups that focus on our social problems are interested in hearing about the criminal justice system and incarceration."

Kerman has other writing projects in the works, a few possibly meant for a full-length book. Though they all focus on criminal justice, she's done with memoirs.

"I can't imagine how anyone can generate multiple memoirs without doing a lot more living," she laughed.

The season finale of Orange Is the New Black left viewers fiending for more tales of Piper Chapman, Alex Vause, Taystee, Red, and Pennsatucky, the last of whom Piper was beating the total pulp out of as the screen went dark. According to Kerman, the show just finished shooting the last episode of season two, which is going to be "fantastic."

"If I gave you any spoilers I would be immediately punished, but there's some really amazing stuff that Jenji Kohan and her writers have come up with," Kerman said. "People can expect a lot of new and very fascinating backstories for some of the characters they met in the first season. Obviously, there will be some new arrivals, just like there always are in prisons -- someone's always coming and going."

The Woman of Valor fundraising event, held at the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Miami, begins with registration and cocktails at 6 p.m. followed by the program at 7. Ticket prices are $150 for general admission and $95 for young leadership (under 30). To RSVP, contact the office at 305-538-4744 or info@ncjwgms.org.

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