Martha Stewart’s home in her multi-million-dollar mansion today, but most of her recent cellmates will be in prison for a long time. In Iowa, the women’s prison at Mitchellville has 600 inmates right now, and deputy warden Cheryl Baney says most could be classed as non-violent offenders. They range from a 2-year sentence for prostitution up to a life sentence for murder. The list is broken down by crimes against property or person, and the deputy warden says most are property crimes. Baney says from the moment a convicted offender comes to the prison, they start working on reentry plans. Most of the women are going to go back out into society, so they do assessments and identify areas of need they agree need to be addressed while in prison, and as they transition back out. The women are offered substance-abuse programs, a victim-impact class, one on criminality and a therapeutic “community” program that’s a minimum of nine months. The women can also add to their life skills. Most are the primary care-givers of a family and they have some very practical needs once their term’s over, a good, good-paying job so they can take care of their kids and own or rent their own home. Some inmates can get their GED, and there are on-line college classes they can pay for and take while they’re at the prison. A group called “Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners” takes donations and the inmates can apply for help in taking college level classes. There are also volunteers who offer drama, parenting, domestic-violence and bible-study classes for the inmates. Though Martha Stewart served a brief term for white-collar crime, the home-decorating maven’s said she met many women who are cut off from the outside world and had befriended some of them during her time behind bars.
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