Piper Kerman might be one of the most popular ex-cons in the nation right now, thanks to Orange is the New Black, the Netflix series based on her memoir of prison life. Now that she's on the outside and working as a prisoners' advocate, Kerman is putting that clout to use: In a New York Times op-ed, she argues that the government's plan to transfer women out of the federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut—where she served 11 months for a non-violent drug offense—and ship them elsewhere across the country is cruel and unusual.
"This added geographic separation may as well be a second sentence for these women, who already have to make it through prison with limited visits from family, and for their children, who still need and want their moms," writes Kerman. Most would go to Alabama, which "might as well be the moon" for the prisoners' families. The Bureau of Prisons should reverse the move, she writes. Or better yet, they could use a program such as JusticeHome, which allows prisoners—say those who got caught up in unduly harsh drug laws—to remain at home with their kids, subject to supervisory visits. It's "an effective way to reduce crime and to stop a cycle that can condemn entire families to the penal system." Click for Kerman's full column.