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December 26, 2007

Martha Stewart's prison productivity

In what seems like a story from The Onion (but apparently is true), the AP reports here that Martha Stewart on her television show showed off an ornate clay nativity scene she sculpted while serving time at a Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia.  Here's more:

"Even though every inmate was only allowed to do one a month, and I was only there for five months, I begged because I said I was an expert potter — ceramicist actually — and could I please make the entire nativity scene," she said.  Her creations were all fired and glazed at the prison.  She completed the effect with tiny artificial palm trees imported from Germany by a New Jersey distributor.

I cannot seem to find a picture of the nativity scene on-line, though I am sure it's classic Martha Stewart (and probably would fetch a tidy sum on E-Bay).  Perhaps K-Mart will have some on sale soon for the next holiday season.

As noted in this holiday season post from when Martha was doing her "hard time," I had hopes that Stewart would have become an advocate for sentencing and prison reform after her time in the pen.  Sadly, despite having so many varied abilities and being worth over $600 millions dollars and, I do not believe Martha has spent any significant energy, time or money on sentencing and prison reform projects over the last three years.

December 26, 2007 at 02:39 PM | Permalink


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What type of prison reform are you talking about? Do you mean that Stewart did not deserve to go to jail? Probation for lying and obstructing offenses? What incentive would there be for anyone to tell the truth? In reality, she received a big break from the Judge. She deserved more, not less.

Posted by: gary | Dec 26, 2007 3:03:18 PM

Gary, I was talking about Martha picking up the themes she stressed in her 2004 holiday message from prison, where she encouraged "the American people to ask for reforms, both in sentencing guidelines, in length of incarceration for nonviolent first-time offenders, and for those involved in drug-taking."

As for her own fate, I will just note that President Bush thought that probation was sufficient for Lewis Libby's lying and obstructing offenses. You'll have to ask him whether her felt the same way for Martha...

Posted by: Doug B. | Dec 26, 2007 4:47:17 PM

A substantial fine would have done more justice and possibly would have been a better way of teaching a lesson to the Martha Stewarts (business execs) of the world. Hitting them in the pocket seems to be a more reasonable way of sentencing rather than incarceration in one of the Club Feds would be. This appears to be another example of how our judicial system favors those who are significantly financially stable.

Posted by: jjay guy | Dec 26, 2007 10:50:42 PM

A couple of comments; partially borne out of the fact I live in Stewart's old town of Westport, CT, and she had an other than town-loyal reputation. Martha paid a fortune for poor legal advice: bring the main target in for a proffer??? Jesus Christ, a first year associate knows this is a hare-brained idea. Secondly, I have visited so-called "Club Feds". They are no picnic. They are prison, and frequently have inmates who are potentially violent.

Posted by: bernie kleinman | Dec 27, 2007 8:06:22 AM

Fines without incarceration only allow rich people to buy their way out of prison. So what do you do with the poor crack cocaine dealer -- give him more prison time because he cannot pay up?

Martha held the key to her own jail cell -- simply tell the truth when required. It is that simple. If your only sanction is a fine, what incentive is there to tell the truth. Remember, Martha is worth 600 million.

Posted by: gary | Dec 27, 2007 10:29:02 AM

I love the Libby comment. Soome should ask the President if he thinks the 33 month sentence for Rita is to long since it was for the same conviction as Libby

What purpose does a 5 month sentence for her serve it does not deter others. She did not deserve jail. Most not all first time non violent offendersa dont deserve jail. I said most not all.

Save the money we waste sending them to jail and put it to use in a way that will drive the economy or give the middle class some tax help

Posted by: | Dec 27, 2007 8:43:43 PM

I agree, prison is prison and taking away an individual's freedom is not a situation anyone wants to be in BUT do you think the potentially violent prisoners are coming anywhere near the Martha Stewart's of the world. The warden isn't going to let that happen on his/her watch. Also, we can't be blind to the fact that there are biases inside prisons just as there are outside prison. Because of this, people feel prisoners with a certain stature aren't subjected to the conditions that create the deterrence factor...that is, what makes the individual say, "I'm not doing that again because I don't want to be in this environment ever again." Due to this, there are those who feel a large fine is more beneficial to the government. Some call it paying your way out of prison but under some circumstances it would be more cost effective for the government to due so.

Posted by: jjay guy | Dec 28, 2007 12:47:03 PM

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