Dividing Lines: FINAL

Everything has a schedule here, and the timetable orders

my existence behind the brick and mortar of the complex

that bars contact with those I call home; in my new home

I feel home(less) and the shadow of the bars

through which I parse my concept of self

orders me to obey as guards walk the corridors

along each cell block of  home(less) women, and

I see how the sun casts a shadow on the floor of my cell,

and I notice how the bars accent my existence:

they force a compliance with the monotony

of a life held together by the rattle of keys,

and they reinforce a barbed wire divide

between my past and my future

among this multitude of invisible women,

whom a nameless, faceless justice has wrenched from families and homes;

these bars stand between mothers and children

and delineate the shape of the space

between those fettered to the shadows

and those unencumbered by an (in)justice system

that refuses to distinguish between its victims and its abusers.

Living in Your Letters: FINAL

                  I am touched          that this letter could express

                            so much       with so few words

 at her mentioning a book,       and reading helps bring family closer;

                                a mother and child

      strugglin’ to understand  the same story

                how each page     is holdin’ the family close;

     we can read together,     like we are next to each other

but she can’t sit with me       at the kitchen table

like the way it used to be –   showing her

          the right way to live     with our heads held high

                           listening,     reading page after page,

                                 until      we can be

                               together again.

Orange Is My Least Favorite Shade of Punishment: FINAL

I escaped Nora and the stacks of dirty cash

and scattered the drug money behind me

along with my dreams to make use of my theatre degree.

I brushed them aside and into a dusty corner.

 

Started living a cozy life in Brooklyn with my boyfriend.

Until one lazy morning federal agents brushed

aside the cobwebs in the catacombs of my past

and found the forbidden jewels of my criminal history.

 

My once WASPY life transformed into a nightmare.

Though I shrouded my dalliances in a mask of youthful mistakes

like precious family heirlooms at an estate sale,

federal agents still foreclosed on me.

 

I became an item for sale

on the auction block of the courtroom.

My freedom sold to the highest bidder:

the United States justice system.

 

Relegated to the dusty shelf of life inside,

I became another collectible.

I felt like a porcelain keepsake among rag dolls.

My sentence served in only a year.

 

They remain – those broken toys.

When my time was up, I no longer wished to be seen behind the glass.

Lucky am I who had the correct color and size

to climb to the top shelf again.

 

The orange jumpsuit hangs in my closet like a skeleton.

I dream of the countless rag dolls stained in orange

amidst the broken toys behind the glass and the bars that keep them

from breaking out and off the neglected bottom shelf.

 

 

 

Wrapping it up- but not forever

This blogging experience has opened up my eyes to a variety of things. I have learned how much I love blogging, and I have also learned so much about how much room our society has to grow when it comes to our prison system. My approach to this project started as an information gathering process. I was treating it like a research paper. I collected as much information as possible and then I studied each source. I never realized how much I could learn about women in prison and how much more needs to be said on the subject. The University of Michigan has a wealth of resources that allow community members to reach out to those in the system. One such resource is the Prison Creative Arts Project or PCAP. Those who are inspired by my blog should think about getting involved with PCAP, because it is an important program that truly does make a difference.

Writing the poems was particularly challenging, because I did not want to make any assumptions about what life is like for women behind bars. I wanted to represent things accurately and not cause more damage by stereotyping or making my poetry too cliche. I worked really hard on the poems and wrote and rewrote them many times before I was finally satisfied.

Here is the link to PCAP: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/pcap

I plan on continuing to moderate this blog and adding more to it as I pick up more information and get more involved in the subject. So if you are interested, please keep following. The semester and the assignment might be over, but this blog is not going to close down.

Adjusting to life in prison

Imagine being convicted of a federal crime and sentenced to any amount of time in prison. I think that many people often think of people as prison as deserving, and entering with either extreme guilt, or anger. It often escapes the populations mind that entering prison often causes severe mental disorders, including anxiety and depression. 

I read an article by Rachel Galindo whose most memorable experience in prison was the friendship she made that helped her through every year. She entered prison with severe anxiety and depression, and sought help from the mental facility within the prison, and yet they chose to completely ignore her wishes and never officially made her an appointment. She had to turn to her fellow inmates. She was told from one counselor that her breakdowns were because of PMS. This is absolutely sickening to me. America is so unequipped to deal with female inmates that they turn to their unawareness of female problems, and blame it all on ‘PMS’. People working in medical facilities in prison need to be extremely educated in the field because their clients could potentially have the most severe cases of depression, and potentially life-threatening. 

Forming a community in prison with friends has become one of the only ways women survive prison. They give each other support and encouragement, which they do not receive from any prison officials. Rachel shares how it was nice to have someone to talk about their common prison experiences. Thes include being abused by officers, being told that they are unfit to rejoin society, children who can’t understand what is going on, and officers constantly belittling them. However, this community has turned many heads in the federal prison system. Many of these women are accused of sexual abuse and punished for merely sharing a hug or a human touch of any kind. The prison makes many efforts to keep the women apart as a part of their punishment, and out of fear of iolence or sexual abuse. 

A way of staying human is through human interaction, and for the prisons in America to take this away from these women is to take away their humanness. Women should be able to form communities to help them through what they are going through. Any kind of support system can change a woman’s life in prison, especially if they receive nothing from the prison itself. I wish that the federal prison system would realize this and provide these women with the professional help that they deserve!

Targeted Upper Class Female ?

This video gives a synopsis of the Martha Stewart Scandal. Her lawyer states that the situation was blown out of proportion for publicity because of Stewart’s socioeconomic status. However, her prosecutors believe that she really deserves a severe punishment. Meanwhile, the male CEOs of the corporations, who were also involved in the scandal, are convicted three years later. Is it hard to believe that Martha Stewart committed a federal crime because of her socioeconomic status? Was the case drawn dramatically out of proportion due to her status? I think that many people refuse to believe that Martha Stewart committed a serious crime due to her socioeconomic status. “No, not Martha Stewart. The nice old lady who gardens on tv? No way.” I think the criminal justice system tries to overcompensate for this popular belief by placing too much emphasis on celebrity punishment for crimes. I personally don’t believe that Martha Stewart’s crime was worthy of all of the attention and consequences given, especially since the male conspirators were prosecuted much more quietly, and much later.

Martha Stewart Case

Great Events from History: Modern Scandals

Martha Stewart Convicted

 Editor: Steven G. Kellman,

In a stunning, but temporary, fall from grace, home-design guru Stewart was convicted of multiple federal felonies for selling stocks immediately before those stocks were expected to decrease in value. Stewart was convicted not of insider trading but rather of lying to government agents about a trade that was not illegal.

 Locale: New York, New York

Categories: Law and the courts; business; corruption

Key Figures

Martha Stewart (b. 1941), corporate executive, editor, writer, and
television-show host

Peter Bacanovic (b. 1962), financial consultant

Samuel D. Waksal (b. 1947), founder and former chief executive officer
 of ImClone Systems

Douglas Faneuil (b. 1975), Bacanovic’s assistant

Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum (b. 1929), U.S. district judge who presided
over Stewart’s trial

 Summary of Event

On March 5, 2004, after deliberating for three days, a jury of four men and eight women convicted Martha Stewart, chief executive officer of Martha Stewart Omnimedia, of making false statements to the federal government, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to make false statements and obstruct justice. Prosecutors argued that Stewart hindered a government investigation of suspected insider trading in a biotechnology firm called ImClone Systems, which was founded and being run by Samuel Waksal.

ImClone’s business prospects depended almost entirely on its cancer treatment drug, Erbitux. On December 26, 2001, Waksal learned that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was not going to approve Erbitux. Waksal tried to sell all of his personal shares of ImClone stock, even attempting to have his stake transferred to a family member to be sold. Stewart, who also had shares in ImClone, sold her entire stake on that same day. The jury found that she lied to government agents about her reasons for selling her shares.

As it turned out, Waksal and Stewart shared the same financial consultant at Merrill Lynch: Peter Bacanovic. Bacanovic was on vacation at the time, but his assistant, Douglas Faneuil, called him on December 27 to inform him of Waksal’s attempted sale. According to telephone records, Bacanovic immediately called Stewart’s office and left a message at 10:04 a.m., which was recorded in the company’s computer system by Stewart’s personal assistant, Ann Armstrong, as “Peter Bacanovic thinks ImClone is going to start trading downward.” Later that day, Stewart called Bacanovic’s office and reached Faneuil, who informed her–as directed by Bacanovic–that Waksal had tried to sell his entire stake of ImClone. Stewart ordered Faneuil to sell all 3,928 of her shares of ImClone, which he did the same day. ImClone stock collapsed in response to the company’s announcement on December 28 of the FDA decision not to approve Erbitux. Had Stewart waited until after December 28 to sell her stock, she would have lost close to fifty thousand dollars.

By early 2002, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the United States Attorney’s Office had all commenced investigations into Waksal’s attempted stock sale and, in the process, noticed the timing of Stewart’s sale as well. SEC lawyers interviewed Bacanovic on January 7, 2002, at which point Bacanovic explained that in mid-December, 2001, he and Stewart had agreed that they would sell her ImClone stock if were to drop below sixty dollars per share.

A few weeks later, SEC lawyers, FBI agents, and federal prosecutors asked to meet Stewart. However, before that meeting took place, Stewart sat at her assistant’s desk, found the record of the December 27 phone message from Bacanovic, and–in her assistant’s presence–altered the message to read, “Peter Bacanovic re: ImClone.” Stewart quickly asked her assistant to restore the message to its original state. On February 4, 2002, Stewart, accompanied by legal counsel, met with government lawyers and agents. At this meeting, Stewart said that she and Bacanovic had agreed sometime before early December to sell her ImClone stock if it dropped below sixty dollars per share. She also described her December 27 phone conversation as between herself and Bacanovic, not Faneuil.

Bacanovic testified formally before the SEC on February 13 and essentially repeated his statements from his January interview. SEC lawyers, FBI agents, and federal prosecutors also interviewed Stewart again, by telephone, on April 10; she repeated that she and Bacanovic had agreed on when to sell her ImClone stock, and she said that she did not remember hearing on December 27 that Waksal was trying to dump his ImClone stock.

On June 4, 2003, federal prosecutors indicted Stewart and Bacanovic on nine separate counts. In addition, the SEC charged Stewart with securities fraud. The securities fraud charge was unusual because it was based not on Stewart’s sale of ImClone stock but rather on her public statements of innocence. According to the SEC, Stewart made these statements with the intention of deceiving purchasers of her company’s stock.

The criminal trial began on January 20, 2004, and lasted for six and one-half weeks. Stewart was represented by Robert Morvillo, an experienced criminal defense attorney. The lead prosecutor was Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Patton Seymour, then head of the criminal division. The key witnesses against Stewart and Bacanovic were Faneuil, Armstrong, and Mariana Pasternak, a friend of Stewart. Pasternak testified that, while vacationing together in Mexico, Stewart mentioned that Waksal’s stock was plunging and that she had sold her shares, observing, “Isn’t it nice to have brokers who tell you those things?” The jury evidently credited the testimony of these witnesses (although it did acquit Bacanovic of a separate count alleging that he had forged a worksheet to bolster the claim that a prior agreement to sell existed).

On July 17, the trial judge, Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, sentenced Stewart to five months in prison and five months of home detention, fined her thirty thousand dollars, and ordered nineteen months of supervised release following confinement. Although Stewart was freed on bail pending appeal, she opted to serve her prison sentence nevertheless. On October 8, she reported to Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia and served her sentence. Following the story outside the minimum-security facility for women was the media, which broadcast from outside the complex for several weeks. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the second circuit rejected her appeal. Upon her release from prison, the media followed her to her home in New York and watched her every move. Stewart embraced the publicity.

 

Impact

Stewart’s conviction had a mixed impact on her iconic image. Many credited her for accepting responsibility for her actions and requesting she enter prison before her appeals were processed. Her talk show Martha Stewart Living went off the air three days after the guilty verdict, but Stewart resurfaced on daytime television with a new program called The Martha Stewart Show, which made its debut on September 12, 2005.

After Stewart completed her prison term, Mark Burnett, producer of the popular reality television shows Survivor and The Apprentice, approached her to star in a spinoff of the latter to be called The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. That show aired on NBC in the fall of 2005, but its ratings were considered sub-par and it was not renewed.

Because the trial judge dismissed the securities fraud charge, some critics of the prosecution argued that Stewart had been convicted of lying about something that was not itself a crime. Other critics perceived gender bias among prosecutors. Stewart, a powerful businesswoman, was convicted for what many considered a trivial matter, while the federally indicted male executives of scandal-ridden corporations such as Enron, Worldcom, and Tyco remained free. (Within a couple of years, however, state and federal prosecutors obtained convictions in virtually all high-profile cases involving the executive officers of these companies, who would receive prison sentences in excess of twenty years each, but for crimes much more serious and far-reaching than those of Stewart.)

On August 7, 2006, Stewart and Bacanovic agreed to settle insider trading civil charges brought against them by the SEC on June 4, 2003, for the December, 2001, ImClone stock sales. In its press release announcing the agreement, the SEC said, Under the settlement, Stewart and Bacanovic agree to pay disgorgement and penalties. Stewart also agrees to a five year bar from serving as a director of a public company and a five year limitation on the scope of her service as an officer or employee of a public company. In August 2004, the Commission barred Bacanovic from associating with a broker, dealer or investment adviser.

Finally, in an ironic twist, the FDA reversed itself and approved Erbitux in February, 2004, for use as a cancer treatment drug. Had Waksal not panicked in December, 2001, and acted hastily to sell his company shares, neither he nor Stewart would be convicted felons.

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