Prisoners are persons whom most of us would rather not think about. Banished from everyday sight, they exist in a shadow world that only dimly enters our awareness. They are members of a "total institution" that controls their daily existence in a way that few of us can imagine. "[P]rison is a complex of physical arrangements and of measures, all wholly governmental, all wholly performed by agents of government, which determine the total existence of certain human beings (except perhaps in the realm of the spirit, and inevitably there as well) from sundown to sundown, sleeping, walking, speaking, silent, working, playing, viewing, eating, voiding, reading, alone, with others. . . ." It is thus easy to think of prisoners as members of a separate netherworld, driven by its own demands, ordered by its own customs, ruled by those whose claim to power rests on raw necessity. -- Justice William Brennan, dissenting in O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 354-55 (1987).

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Martha Stewart Stops Talking

I remember when Martha Stewart was in prison she released a Christmas Message in 2004 on her now defunct website (although you can read an archived copy of the site here), which included the following :

I beseech you all to think about these women -- to encourage 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. They would be much better served in a true rehabilitation center than in prison where there is no real help, no real programs to rehabilitate, no programs to educate, no way to be prepared for life "out there" where each person will ultimately find herself, many with no skills and no preparation for living.

As Steve Baldwin notes on his blog, whatever happened to Martha Stewart and prison reform?

I was wondering the same thing (which is how I found his website).

Now I don't want to be too harsh on Martha, but she was in a rather unique position to make a difference. Then again, maybe her probation officer told her that she would be jeopardizing her terms of supervised release if her reform efforts involved any contact with former inmates. By the way, her two years of supervised release should have ended in March, 2007 (if it was not terminated before then).

I understand how easy it is to be motivated upon leaving prison and then get caught up in other things and lose that initial fervor, but I was hoping she would stick it out.

No comments: