The fictitious ladies of Litchfield Correctional Facility are putting their on-camera differences aside for real women facing the realities of life behind bars.
A handful of cast members from Netflix series "Orange Is the New Black" are spending time with the winners from an online auction, with proceeds benefiting the Women's Prison Association, or WPA. Auction winners will have lunch with Taylor Schilling and Piper Kerman (who is not a cast member, but whose memoir inspired the series), drink coffee with Lea DeLaria, and shop with Jessica Pimentel, Laura Gómez, Jackie Cruz and Diane Guerrero. Fans were able to bid on the experiences, which are part of the WPA's #2ndChances Campaign and will take place in New York City, through online auction platform CharityBuzz. Bidding opened Aug. 13 and closed Wednesday afternoon.
The WPA provides a variety of services to women at all stages of the criminal justice system. While women are behind bars, the association helps them access mental health and addiction services and gain peer support from women in similar circumstances, among many other services. The WPA also helps women transition into post-prison life by helping them prepare for job interviews and teaching them everyday life skills, such as budgeting.
The WPA plays a vital role within a system that is affecting a growing number of American women. According to the organization, there are about 200,000 women behind bars in the U.S., reflecting a 750 percent increase in the last three decades. And certain demographics have taken the brunt of those alarming figures. In 2008, one in 100 black women aged 35 to 39 was in prison -- more than 3.5 times the rate for white women -- according to a report from the Pew Center on the State, the New York Times reported.
The WPA showed its appreciation for the Netflix series on Facebook earlier this week by posting a message in support of the program ahead of Monday's Emmys Awards ceremony.
To learn more about the WPA, visit the organization's website.