The worst thing about the West Virginia prison where Westport’s Martha Stewart is serving a five-month sentence is the food, according to her daughter, Alexis. “It’s terrible,” she said Friday night on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”
Alexis Stewart: prison food is “terrible.” CNN/WestportNow.com photo
“I’m sure she could give them quite a few pointers, but I think that the budget is so limited that … I’m not sure how much change they’d be willing to make,” Alexis Stewart said.
She said her mother has settled into the routine of prison life at the federal women’s prison in Alderson, W. Va. “She’s making the most of it,” she said.
Her mother has one roommate in a dormitory-type building that houses 80 women, Alexis Stewart said.
She has not yet been assigned a job, but in the meantime she has been taking walks, going to the gym “a nice gym with a Stairmaster”—watching television news, and reading.
She said her mother gets up before anyone else and eats with the other inmates.
She said the food was so bad that airplane food would be better. “It’s terrible,” she said. “But it’s not going to affect her that badly because she is only there five months.”
Alexis Stewart said her mother has no access to a computer or e-mail but does use a prison typewriter to write and mail notes to family and friends.
She said visitors are not permitted to bring out things written by inmates so her mother’s typewritten notes can only go out through the regular mail.
Prisoners are allowed newspaper subscriptions, they can watch one television channel, and are allowed five books at a time which, like the notes, must be mailed in and out, she said.
She said the books cannot be left with the prison library, adding, “I guess they don֒t want prison to be full of books.”
Alexis Stewart said she had played Scrabble with her mother during her visits, which can last all day on weekends.
“She was having a lot of fun playing Scrabble until I started beating her,” she said. “Now she decided she doesn’t want to play.”
Alexis Stewart said her mother had asked fellow inmates to respect her privacy and not take any pictures of her.
King asked if prisoners were allowed to have cameras, and Alexis Stewart replied that they are not, but that one visitor apparently slipped a camera inside to an inmate who took a picture of her mother that was later published.
She said she is followed constantly by photographers when in the West Virginia town and reported that media representatives had contacted all the other prisoners by mail, telling them any information that could provide about Martha Stewart would be very valuable.
Alexis Stewart said it is an eight-hour drive to the prison, apparently meaning from her Manhattan apartment. She said it’s about the same time to fly there as there is no direct connection.
She said Stewart’s 91-year-old mother has yet to make the trip.
Asked what it was like to take her mother to prison on Oct. 8 and leave her there, she replied, “It was horrible. It was upsetting. To leave her there was just miserable, very upsetting. But I got to see her there that afternoon.”
Alexis Stewart said her mother has a list of about 20 people who can come to visit her. Visitors meet with her in an open room, much like an airport waiting room, she said, and they can also walk outside with her.
She said prison personnel were very friendly, polite and helpful getting her accustomed to the prison routine but that she was not getting any extra special treatment.
Alexis Stewart said there are no cells with bars and didnt think there was even a fence completely surrounding the property. She said the fence that is there is more likely intended to keep people out than keep inmates in.
Asked by King if her mother were writing a book about her prison life, she said she wasn’t sure it was limited to prison life, adding, “We always expected her to write a book about her life.”
Asked if she thought her mother might get involved in prison causes after her release, Alexis Stewart said she hopes so and thinks she will.
Alexis Stewart described reports that she was being groomed to take over her mother’s company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, as “a large exaggeration” but the idea that she might someday run the company was within the realm of possibility.
Martha Stewart, 63, who was convicted of lying to investigators about a stock sale, is expected to be released in March and then will serve five months of house arrest at her home in Bedford, N.Y.