Martha Stewart, who built an empire teaching Americans how to cook, garden and entertain, is facing a very different lifestyle after being told to report to a prison in West Virginia by October 8.
The US bureau of prisons yesterday turned down a request by Stewart to serve her five-month sentence closer to her home in Bedford, New York, and her elderly mother. Stewart will serve alongside more than 1,000 inmates – most of them drug offenders – at the Alderson minimum security prison, about 270 miles south-west of Washington DC. It is known as “camp cupcake” because of its low security. There are no metal fences keeping inmates in.
Like other prisoners, Stewart will begin work shortly after a 6am wake-up call. She has good experience in some of the jobs on offer, in food service or grounds maintenance, although instead of the millions of dollars she is accustomed to, she will get the standard rate of between 12 cents (7p) and 40 cents an hour.
Prisoners at Alderson sleep in bunk beds in one of nine large dormitories, each housing between 26 and 90 inmates. There are no individual cells. In her free time, Stewart, 63, will have access to various sports and the prison library.
Alderson’s best known inmates include Lynette “Squeaky Fromme”, a member of the Manson family who tried to shoot President Gerald Ford, and Sara Jane Moore, who also attempted to kill the president.
In a statement yesterday, Stewart said she was looking forward “to getting this behind me”. She still plans to appeal her conviction.
Stewart, arguably the best known businesswoman in the US, was found guilty in March of lying to federal investigators looking into her sale of shares in the company ImClone, run by a family friend. After serving her five-month term she will face another five months under house arrest.
Earlier this month Stewart asked to serve her sentence as quickly as possible in order to “reclaim my good life”.