Martha Stewart Headed for West Virginia Prison

30 September 2004

The federal women's prison in Alderson, West Virginia, is not unused to celebrity inmates. Such notables as Billie Holiday and WW2 collaborator Tokyo Rose are past inmates; its facilities have also been graced by would-be presidential assassins Lynette Fromme and Sara Jane Moore – both of whom on separate occasions took an active dislike to President Gerald W Ford.

It is among the shades of such distinguished company that Prisoner 55170-054 (aka Martha Stewart) will take up residence on October 8.

According to a local, "the prison is built like a college campus; there is lot of property, a lot of greenery and there is no barbed wire around."

But it unlikely Stewart will be humming to herself John Denver's paean to the region ... Country roads, take me home to the place I belong, West Virginia. For Alderson is the very facility to which she had hoped not to be sent.

Her preference was for a correctional institution in Danbury, Connecticut, near to where she has a house. Second choice was Coleman, Florida. But the Bureau of Prisons was unenthusiastic about the former as they feared it would be too convenient for a media stakeout. And storm damage caused by Hurricane Ivan put paid to the latter.

Alderson lagged somewhere near the bottom of Stewart's list, apparently because its remote location would hinder visits by the media maven's attorney and her 90-year-old mother.

But she was diplomatically gracious about her fate: "While I had hoped to be designated to a facility closer to my family and more accessible to my appellate attorneys, I am pleased that that the Bureau of Prisons has designated me so quickly."

According to a Bureau of Prisons spokesman, Stewart will be assigned to work seven and a half hours a day in prison programs that include food service, groundskeeping and sanitation.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff