Piper Kerman, the woman whose memoir, “Orange is the New Black,” inspired a wildly successful Netflix series, told Maria Shriver on NBC News that although she was the victim of groping during strip-searches, she was an extremely poor target for correctional officers looking to sexually abuse a prisoner.
“I was very lucky,” Kerman told Shriver. “I was not targeted by somebody who wanted to have more exploitive or abusive sexual contact with me, and quite frankly, I would make a poor target.”
Kerman explained that the guards knew she was connected to the outside world because friends, family, and her future husband visted frequently. She also got letters at mail call daily.
“So a person, a woman who has clear lifelines to the outside world makes a really poor target,” Kerman said. “The kind of person a CO would go after would be a woman who is more isolated and is more vulnerable than I was.”
Of course, Kerman’s strip-searching experiences aren’t anything to scoff at. She said guards often groped her during her stay at the Federal Correctional Institute at Danbury, Connecticut. Prison guards were allowed to touch the lower edge of the inmates’ bras, but Kerman said they would often go well beyond the protocol.
“Sometimes it was shocking who would grope you — like polite, fair, and otherwise upstanding Mr. Black, who did it in a businesslike way,” Kerman wrote in her memoir. “Other male COs were brazen, like the short, red-faced young bigmouth who asked me loudly and repeatedly, “Where are the weapons of mass destruction?” while he fondled my arse and I gritted my teeth.”
Guards are able to get away with the abuse, she said, because any woman who speaks up about abuse will likely get tossed into solitary confinement.
Surprisingly, however, Kerman said she has recieved support from some correctional officers who have read the book or watched the show, and say they would like to see reform in the criminal justice system.
You can watch the full interview below:
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