Friday, March 04, 2005

Martha

"Rainy Day" - Big Dismal

We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief today - Martha Stewart was finally released from prison...the slammer....the gray bar hotel. I do not know how we all made it through the last 5 months - especially those trying weeks during the holidays. They just didn't feel right without someone telling us how to make festive holiday napkin holders out of paper clips and leftover Spaghettios.

Her time in prison was harsh. According to her magazine, during her 5 months in the hole, she had "foraged for dandelion greens to improve the prison fare, whipped up impromptu microwave recipes, taught yoga, read Bob Dylan's autobiography, made a ceramic Nativity scene for her mother and crocheted toy opossums for her dogs." And now that she is out, she returns to her multi-million dollar estate, an almost $1 million per year salary as CEO of Martha Stewart Omnimedia, and lucrative television deals - one of them a spin off of "The Apprentice." The per share price of her company has climbed back to respectability, and all seems right with the world.

What did Martha learn from her time in "prison?" "The experience of the last five months in Alderson, West Virginia, has been life altering and life affirming. You can be sure that I will never forget the friends that I met here, all that they have done to help me over these five months, their children, and the stories they have told me," she said in a statement on her Web site.

The problem? People like Martha, Kenneth Lay from Enron and Scott Sullivan from Worldcom get put into country club prisons, and the time they are serving isn't at all that harsh. Sure, they are away from their families for a while, but they aren't confined to cells, do not have razor wire fences surrounding the facilities or guards with high powered rifles constantly monitoring them. They will not get put into solitary confinement for bad behavior or go through any sort of sensatory deprivation. They aren't actually in prison - even though their crimes are just as bad as any other criminal, and in the case of Lay and Sullivan, sure hurt a lot more people than most other criminals do via their respective crimes. It's not murder, but by making it so that thousands of people lose their jobs, their life savings, and basically all hope, these are very serious crimes indeed - and should be treated as such.

Now, the solution. Eliminate country club prisons and put white collar criminals in general population. Just the threat of going into general population would likely deter a good percentage of white collar criminals from doing anything that would put their finely manicured asses anywhere near a real prison.

I am sure Martha's time in prison would not have been so life affirming if she had been the cell block bitch.

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