Martha Stewart's Christmas Message: Prison Reform Now = Workforce Development

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 12/28/2004 - 12:58.

An intellectual social reformer from Tribe shared the following posting that will have significant impact across America, because Martha Stewart is speaking out about legal process reform (from prison), and she knows the power of the Internet, uses it well, and is know and loved by untold millions, despite her legal problems. I post this message here because it surfaces issues we need to address to improve our regional economy - many of our unemployed are in fact unemployable for the reasons Martha highlights, and many of our more effective workforce development and reentry programs address this challenge - NEO must become world-class in addressing these issues, and use that distinctive competency to get ahead of the curve with social reform for this region, as America moves toward rebuilding our society as opposed to building prisons. Martha Stewart's Christmas Message: Prison Reform Now!

By Yoshie Furuhashi
<furuhashi [dot] 1 [at] osu [dot] edu> - Saturday, December 25, 2004
montages.blogspot.com/2004/12...tha-stewarts-christmas-message.html

Martha Stewart, whose trial brought the problem of 18 USC 1001
to
our attention, calls for prison reform in her Christmas message:
"So many of
the [1,200] women here in Alderson will never have the
joy and wellbeing
that you and I experience. Many of them have been
here for years -- devoid
of care, devoid of love, devoid of family."

"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."

Stewart's opinion is shared by many. A poll conducted by
Peter D.
Hart Research Associates, Inc. shows that public attitudes toward

criminal justice have changed dramatically: "In 1994, . . . 48% favored

addressing the causes of crime and 42% preferred the punitive
approach.
. . . The public now favors dealing with the roots of crime
over strict
sentencing by a two to one margin, 65% to 32% "
(emphasis added, Changing
Public Attitudes toward the Criminal
Justice System ,February 2002 ). What
is most heartening is that
rehabilitation and reentry programs have
surprisingly broad-based
support:

Americans strongly favor
rehabilitation and reentry programs over
incapacitation as the best method
of ensuring public safety. Nearly
two-thirds of all Americans (66%) agree
that the best way to reduce
crime is to rehabilitate prisoners by requiring
education and job
training so they have the tools to turn away from a life
of crime,
while just one in three (28%) believe that keeping criminals off
the
streets through long prison sentences would be the more effective

alternative.

This idea has broad-based support, with solid
majorities of whites
(63% / 31%), fundamentalist Protestants (55% / 36%),
and Republicans
(55% / 38%) supporting rehabilitation over incapacitation as
the best
way to reduce crime. Interestingly, the 23% of Americans who report

that they or a close family member have been the victim of a violent

crime endorse rehabilitation even more strongly than the general
public,
by a decisive 73% to 21% margin . (emphasis added,
February 2002 )

Perhaps, Stewart's call for prison reform won the hearts and minds of
many incarcerated women and their families, and she found herself in their
prayers:

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., among the biggest U.S.

targets of "short selling" last month, rallied amid optimism that
the
company can rebound from its namesake's jail term and return
to
profitability.

Shares of the media and housewares company rose 43
percent
during the past six weeks in New York Stock Exchange composite

trading and reached $30.05, a four-year high, on Dec. 15.

Thirty-one
percent of the New York-based company's shares
available for trading were
sold short, or borrowed and sold to
profit from lower prices, as of Nov. 9.
The figure was in the top
5 percent for U.S.-listed companies. (Laure
Edwards, "Martha
Stewart Living's Shares Gain, Thwarting 'Short Sellers,'"

Bloomberg.com, December 21, 2004)

Let's make sure that no prisoner
will be sold short and that all
prisoners -- especially incarcerated women,
more than 70 percent
of whom are nonviolent offenders and almost all of whom
are
classified as "low risk" (Vincent Schiraldi and Judith Greene,

"Cutting Prison Costs is Tempting in Times of Fiscal Crisis,"
San Diego
Union-Tribune,February 27, 2002 ) -- will be able
to rebound more strongly
than Stewart's company did.

This is a personal statement from Martha
Stewart.
It is not issued by or on behalf of Martha Stewart Living

Omnimedia, Inc. - www.marthatalks.com/

Dear Friends,

When one is
incarcerated with 1,200 other inmates, it is hard to be
selfish at Christmas
-- hard to think of Christmases past and
Christmases future -- that I know
will be as they always were for
me -- beautiful! So many of the women here
in Alderson will never
have the joy and wellbeing that you and I experience.
Many of them
have been here for years -- devoid of care, devoid of love,
devoid
of family.

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.

I am
fine, really. I look forward to being home, to getting back to my
valuable
work, to creating, cooking, and making television. I have had
time to think,
time to write, time to exercise, time to not eat the bad
food, and time to
walk and contemplate the future. I've had my work
here too. Cleaning has
been my job - washing, scrubbing, sweeping,
vacuuming, raking leaves, and
much more. But like everyone else
here, I would rather be doing all of this
in my own home, and not
here -- away from family and friends.

I want
to thank you again, and again, for your support and
encouragement. You have
been so terrific to me and to everyone
who stood by me. I appreciate
everything you have done, your
emails, your letters, and your kind, kind
words.
Happy holidays,

Martha Stewart

P.S. I thought you
might be interested in the brief my lawyers
filed with the Court this
afternoon. (The brief can be found at
the link above...bw) www.marthatalks.com/