How Did Martha Stewart Survive Prison


Author: David Shankbone, image source:

The prison is home to different people who have had to pay the penalty of transgressing the law. These people come from all walks of life. It is an interesting story though when the person going to prison is a famous millionaire who owns a multi-million dollar 153-acre estate in New York. Who could have thought that a person who once enjoyed a lavish lifestyle would have to be confined to a cell probably smaller than her bathroom?

This is the case for Martha Stewart, an American businesswoman, writer and a TV personality known for being a DIY guru. In March 2004, at the age of 63, Stewart was charged with fraud and obstruction of justice. The charge was given after she was investigated of selling thousands of shares of stock just right before the price dropped. As a result of this, she was sentenced a five-month term in a federal correctional facility in West Virginia and a two-year supervised released which includes monitoring through an electronic anklet.

Being a famous personality, it is a question of how did Martha Stewart survive prison? In an interview with her daughter Alexis Stewart, she said that her mother endured a terrible time in the correctional facility. The worst thing about West Virginia prison, according to her, is the food. She emphasized that the food is terrible that even an airplane food is better. In spite of that, Alexis said that her mother made the most out of everything that was given to her. She did not insist on continuing her old life. She did not spend her days being depressed and moping. Instead, she took whatever was available and made the most out of it. Her mother would use her time taking walks, going to the gym, watching television news and reading. She was not idle and unproductive. She found ways to make her prison days more meaningful, even with all the depressing things surrounding her.

A year after she was released, Martha Stewart started writing books mainly about achieving success and managing a business. While she basically had gone back to her old, familiar life, she would still remember her days inside the prison as “a deep hole that is not a pleasant one.” Still, she admitted in her publication titled, “The Martha Rules” that though staying in prison was far from a happy experience, it was far better than she expected it would be. That was a testament that being in prison is a huge challenge but is not necessarily a cause to live life downhill from that moment on. One can still regain their old life or start living a new, better one after prison. This is especially true with the right perspective and planning along with a positive outlook and the desire to be better.

So how did Martha Stewart survive prison, one may ask. It was health, optimism and the will to overcome. These three aspects helped her to overcome a difficult situation such as going to the prison. She certainly did not dwell on her current prison situation. She surely did not complain about how cramped her cell was, how awful the food was, how cold the shower was, and all other issues that people expected someone like her to be irritated about. She did not use her influence to be given special treatment and continue a lavish life while inside prison. She did not throw her weight around or treat everyone like crap. Instead, she did her time as she should, kept a low profile, and looked forward to when she will be released.

Her healthy constitution and the curiosity to know what would happen to her after the correction made her positive about going through that. Instead of feeling sorry and hopeless about her case, she started planning what she would do once she got out. She made plans on how she can continue her life after she has served her sentence. She did not see her prison sentence as the end of her life or her career. She did recognize that this period in her life was dark and unpleasant but it was not the end of the world. In addition to all of these, she admitted that she had a very supportive audience behind her, frequently visiting her. Some of them had to drive for hours in order to visit her. And this was a huge help in keeping her sane and lifting her spirits.

During her stay in prison, she also made the most of getting to know her fellow inmates better. She even spoke about business practices at a forum inside the prison. This forum enabled her to share and listen to the ideas of her fellow inmates. She felt delighted about enlightening them with business facts. Her prison sentence was not pent in mopingaroundher tiny, cramped prison cell and feeling sorry for herself. She did not allow her mind to be depressed and stale. Instead, she found opportunities tocontinue what shelovesdoing-sharing what she knows and helping others. Most of all, she was also able develop friendship among other inmates.

Getting into prison might be a terrible experience for Martha Stewart. It isn’t easy for someone of her stature to go from living with all of life’s comforts to being reduced to the indignity of settling for the bare necessities. In prison, even the basic toiletries become a luxury. An inmate cannot always do what they want to do. Even the simplest issues as when to go to the bathroom or when to take a shower is out of the prisoner’s hands. The jail staff determines when they can go and for how long. That meant no long hot shower for Martha while she was serving time. And a long luxurious, soothing bath was out of the question. Makeup is also something she had to do without for months. And not to mention getting a decent hair wash or even a hair dryer. These are simple things that even the simplest free woman often takes for granted. And all these things were taken away from Martha. Nevertheless, looking back, the prison could also be a place to inspire others and be inspired.

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