Piper Kerman put a spotlight on incarcerated women with her memoir, "Orange Is The New Black: My Year In A Women's Prison," and the critically-acclaimed Netflix series of the same name that it inspired. Now Kerman is advocating against the damage underage children suffer while their mothers serve time, often in facilities very far from home.
Kerman penned an op-ed in The New York Times arguing that for women in prisons located many miles from their community, "geographic separation may as well be a second sentence." She told HuffPost Live's Marc Lamont Hill that families from difficult socioeconomic backgrounds are often unable to travel extensively to visit women in prison, which harms both mother and child.
"Those visits from family, from friends and, more importantly, from children are essential to keeping folks who are in prison tied closely back to the communities to which they're going to return," Kerman said. "Those connections to their family and most especially to their children are one of the biggest incentives to come home successfully."
Some argue that a woman's separation from her family while she serves her sentence is part of the penalty for the crime she committed. But Kerman said that view ignores bigger issues.
"The price of the ticket for an individual who commits a crime is one part of the picture," she said. "But the price for children, most especially in minor children ... who are too often left without protection when a parent is sent away to prison, that is something that should concern everyone in the community, because everyone pays the price when kids are left without protection."
Kerman's piece in the Times supports the idea of allowing women to serve their time in their own homes, with close oversight and visits from case managers.
"Regardless of how you feel about folks being punished ... people can be held accountable in the community without the devastating additional effects of taking moms out of the community," she said.
Watch the full conversation about women in prison at HuffPost Live HERE.