- The Washington Times - Friday, October 8, 2004

ALDERSON, W.Va. — Homemaking guru Martha Stewart slipped into the federal prison camp here in the dark morning hours to start her five-month sentence.

Stewart, 63, arrived at the Federal Prison Camp Alderson at 6:15 a.m., the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons said.

Stewart arrived seven hours and 45 minutes before her 2 p.m. deadline to enter the dormitory-style prison campus located on the banks of the Greenbrier River in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains.

The prison, 270 miles southwest of Washington, houses 1,050 inmates and has a full-time staff of 172, said bureau spokeswoman Traci Billingsley.

Stewart was convicted in March for lying to federal investigators about her sale of 3,928 shares of ImClone Systems Inc. in December 2001, just before the stock’s value plummeted.

She was given a five-month prison sentence in addition to a two-year supervised release, five months of which will be served in home confinement.

Stewart, in an open letter made public yesterday, said she will continue to pursue her appeal as she serves her sentence.

“While I am away, my updates here will be less frequent, if not altogether impossible,” she said.

“But please know this change is only an unfortunate reflection of my current circumstances and in no way diminishes my commitment to my life’s work or to the friends, colleagues, customers and supporters who make it possible.”

Stewart, who arrived in a sport utility vehicle under a shroud of morning fog before sunrise, did not make any announcements at the prison entrance, where news media vans had camped out on residential property for the past two weeks.

Prison security guards blocked off all of the entrances to the prison and refused any interviews with employees inside the compound.

The prison camp, nestled on 159 acres, is the largest employer in Alderson, which has a population of 1,100.

The prison camp is no stranger to high-profile felons. It housed jazz singer Billie Holiday, World War II propagandists Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally, Charles Mason disciples Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme and Sandra Good and would-be presidential assassin Sara Jane Moore.

Stewart was photographed, fingerprinted, strip-searched, and issued prison khakis,a button-down shirt and black steel-toed boots when she arrived.

She will be assigned a small locker, in which she can store up to 25 photographs and five books. Prisoners are permitted to wear a plain wedding band, religious medallion and a watch valued at $100 or less and a pair of earrings of the same value.

She will be referred to as number 55170-054 by prison guards.

She joins an all-female population that is 52 percent black, 47 percent white and 4 percent Hispanic, the prison said. Most of the inmates in the prison are serving terms for drug offenses.

Stewart will have to watch out for the rowdy, trash-talking female inmates from the Washington area, according to the friend of an inmate in the facility.

The “D.C.s,” as the Washington-area prisoners are known, are a loud, aggressive crew who enjoy picking fights, said the friend, who talks frequently with an inmate in the prison.

“They are tough,” the friend said. “There have been incidents where the girls have fights, fistfights and those kinds of things.”

The D.C.s’ ringleader apparently is Armaretta Perry, the aunt of convicted drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III. Perry, 61, is serving a 33-year sentence for her role in Edmond’s cocaine-distribution network in the District.

Inmates start their day at 6 a.m. with breakfast and roll call before working until 3:30 p.m. They have a lunch break at 10:30 a.m., another mandatory roll call at 4 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. Lights go out at 10:30 p.m.

Stewart, who will have at least one roommate, will be allowed visits from those approved on her family and friends list on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and federal holidays.

She will be required to work five days a week, performing jobs such as groundskeeping, plumbing, food services and painting, for which she will be paid 12 to 40 cents an hour. She will have free time in the evenings.

After being interviewed by prison staff and briefed on the institution’s rules, new inmates undergo a two-week orientation, during which work assignments are made.

Although some inmates do outside jobs in Alderson, residents said they doubt Stewart will spend any of her time outside of the prison. The inmate jobs program operates in the summer, and Stewart’s celebrity status likely would prevent her from leaving the prison because of security concerns, several said.

There is an arts and crafts program at the prison, but Ms. Billingsley would not give specifics.

Outside the prison at the main entrance, dozens of media outlets parked their vans and cranes to catch a glimpse of Stewart. Beckley Beauty Academy students Leighann Alderman, Christy Dowdy, Jessica Dunbrack, Carmen Cales and Denae Pudwill also skipped their morning class yesterday to try and see their homestyle idol.

“We came to do her hair and give her a shampoo,” Miss Alderman joked.

The Greenbrier County residents were disappointed when they found out at 9:05 a.m. that Stewart was already behind bars.

But the beautician group vowed to return in March to see her departure from prison. They won’t be the only ones waiting. Stewart’s company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., last month signed a contract with reality television series producer Mark Burnett to act as a television consultant and produce future television series with the domestic diva.

“With your good wishes in my heart, I am looking forward to being back at work in March and to many brighter days ahead,” Stewart said.

S.A. Miller contributed to this report from Washington.

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