What Did Martha Stewart’s Imprisonment Accomplish?


The positive spin on Martha Stewart’s brief time in prison “could present a problem for criminal law enforcement,” says the New York Times. It’s not clear that either of the main purposes of imprisonment–punishment and deterrence–was accomplished in this case.

“Stewart is very successful at spin,” said Austin Sarat, a professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College. “The prison episode right from the beginning has been successfully spun.” Stewart never was criminally charged with insider trading, but rather with lying to investigators looking into a stock sale in December 2001. To many, that just does not seem terribly heinous. “We use prison too much and often for the wrong things,” Sarat said. “And like anything else we use too much, and for the wrong things, it loses its currency.”

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/06/weekinreview/06glat.html

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