CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, March 7, 2005

Georgia State CrimProf Ellen Podgor Comments on Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart refers to her prison time as "life affirming and life altering."  Stewart, who spent much of her prison time focusing on sentencing guideline-reform, claims she has truly changed.  Georgia State CrimProf Ellen Podgor, who recently authored Arthur Andersen, LLP and Martha Stewart: Should Materiality be an Element of Obstruction of Justice?, explained to the AP that Stewart probably is changed because the stigma of prison time affects white collar criminals much more than other criminals, and causes white collar criminals to genuinely reflect on their poor judgments that landed them with hard time.  A prison term ''is mind altering. I don't think it's just for the press what's being said (by Stewart about being changed)'' said Podgor.  On the other hand, noting the public's increased interest in Stewarts products and the increasing price of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. stock, Podgor differentiated Stewart's case from other white collar criminals: ''[T]he stigma, society's stigma, that is the greatest penalty faced by white-collar not happening here."  So as Stewart begins her 5 months of house arrest, only time will tell if her prison time affected her as it does most white collar criminals.  Fred Shapiro, a lawyer who served time for bank fraud in Philadelphia in the 1990s, and went back to prison for a separate episode of white-collar crime 10 years later commented, ''Everyone says they've changed after they've left prison, but...[c]haracter is who you are when no one is looking...[o]nly she will know if she has changed.'' More... [Mark Godsey]

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