What Martha Stewart's Life In Prison Was Really Like

There was only one regret Martha Stewart had about going to prison: She missed seeing Amy Poehler and Tina Fey on the "Saturday Night Live" stage. "My only big regret that I can talk about is that 'Saturday Night Live' asked me to host. My probation officer wouldn't give me the time," she told Harper's Bazaar. "That really pissed me off, because I would have loved to have hosted 'Saturday Night Live.' I'd like that on my resume."

Now 80, the then-63-year-old went to prison on charges related to insider trading in 2004. The conviction stemmed from Stewart selling ImClone Systems shares in 2001. For five months, Stewart was living at the Alderson Prison in Alderson, West Virginia. Known as "Camp Cupcake" (according to Insider), the minimum-security prison is made for white-collar criminals. Unlike most other inmates, Stewart had access to swimming pools, tennis courts, and a stage. She also had email, access to a TV room, and a common area. According to Insider, Stewart also got the opportunity to create her own nativity pottery set. Here's what her life in prison was really like.

Daily prison routine at the so-called Camp Cupcake

Regardless of what others believe, Martha Stewart does not think her stay in the prison was a piece of cake. During an interview with Katie Couric (via Today), Stewart related, "It was horrifying, and no one — no one — should have to go through that kind of indignity, really, except for murderers ... It's a very, very awful thing."

During her stay, she recalled cleaning toilets. She also abhorred the lack of privacy and felt people were kicking her while she was down due to her being the butt of numerous jokes. Another woman, Evie Litwok, who was incarcerated at the same prison in 2010, shared Stewart's sentiments that the prison was no "Camp Cupcake." According to Talk Poverty, Litwok, then 60, wrote at one point that her job was to sweep the streets at the camp. "At an age where working a physically demanding job for seven- and eight-hour days was grueling, I served as the Sisyphus of Alderson, sweeping rocks off the street only to see my work undone by passing vehicles." She also stated that after work, between lunch and dinner, they could not return to their units. She wrote, "We were not allowed to read, do crossword puzzles, knit, play cards, or sleep. Instead, everyone had to spend long hours in plastic seats attached to the table."

Martha Stewart was not allowed to work in the kitchen

Evie Litwok mentioned that prison rules mandated all prisoners to work in the kitchen during their first 90 days. The only one who did not was Martha Stewart. Litwok wrote (via Talk Poverty), "I suspect she was refused because this chore might have given her an inkling of pleasure within the miserable prison environment." Litwok underlined that Stewart was instead assigned "to the humiliating task of mopping the floors and cleaning the toilets of the warden and other higher-ups."

Still, though Stewart was not allowed to cook for the prison kitchen, that didn't stop her from engaging in her passion on her own time. Speaking to Fox News, she revealed that she picked wild plants — like dandelions — and fruits and used them to create meals. "Some of the food was dated three years prior so I made crab apple jam from the trees," she told the Daily Mail.

She lost weight during her sentence

People reported that Martha Stewart lost weight during her stay. According to the publication, Stewart dropped 10 pounds in just the first seven weeks, and her younger sister Laura Plimpton (who visited her behind bars) praised her overall health. "It was a big relief for all of us to see Martha so healthy, well-adjusted and well-liked," she told People at the time. "She looks relaxed and feels that the time is passing quickly."

According to People, Stewart's weight loss is the result of a few different things. She reportedly avoided the prison food and made a habit of hitting the prison's "workout facilities." The outlet also noted that Stewart's previously mentioned cleaning job was also a likely factor in her shedding pounds. "Cleaning is something she knows how to do and she knows how to do it very, very well," one of the businesswoman's friends told People back in 2004. "She doesn't dwell on it, she just does it."

She promoted prison reform from behind bars

Though she only served a short sentence, Martha Stewart saw enough of prison life to speak out about the treatment of the women she spent time with. As reported by People, Stewart made a holiday post in 2004 that she used to spotlight prison reform, joining the likes of other celebrities like Kim Kardashian that have used their celebrity to do the same. "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," Stewart said.

Stewart said that many of the women she met have been behind bars "for years — devoid of care, devoid of love, devoid of family." According to the television personality (via Hollywood.com), the women "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."

Rosie O'Donnell visited her behind bars

With such name recognition, it's no surprise that Martha Stewart had friends and family visit her in prison. But one of the most high-profile visits was Rosie O'Donnell (via Page Six). O'Donnell even arranged for an Italian Capri lemon tree to be ready for Stewart at home after she was released. Interestingly, O'Donnell and Stewart weren't even close friends — Stewart asked the actress to come visit.

"I didn't really know her very much aside from the celebrity vernacular," O'Donnell told Page Six. "She had done my show but I didn't really know her, we hadn't been out for dinner, we weren't exactly friends. Before she left, I wrote her a letter that I thought it was so unfair and if she ever needed anything don't hesitate and I left my phone number." O'Donnell said it "broke[her] heart" that Stewart had to resort to reaching out to someone she didn't know very well to visit her.