Jailhouse Epiphanies -- March 6, 2005

A weekly feature on This Week.


Former Nixon White House aide Charles Colson has some advice for Martha Stewart. Colson had a taste of what Stewart has been going through when he went from the White House to prison, and then to prison ministry.

Charles Colson: "I'm encouraged to hear Martha Stewart say that she found it [prison] life affirming and life changing. It certainly was life changing for me. I went to prison as the former special counsel to the president of the United States and ended up surrounded by people who had committed serious drug offenses and some very heavy-duty crimes. And what I discovered was that they weren't any different than I was, and I wasn't any different from them. And the big thing for me was to see the world from the down looking up rather than on top looking down. And you see it totally differently. You see the needs of human beings in an entirely different way. It's life affirming, and I think this must be what Martha Stewart meant, in the sense that you come to reality.

"If you live in the Upper East Side of New York in Manhattan and attend all the swishy parties -- or if you were like I was, a government official, and a social circuit with the embassies -- you're getting a very stilted view of life. You're getting a very distorted view of reality.

"When I was in prison, I had an evening in the day room and everybody was playing cards and watching television, and I was writing a letter home. And an African-American inmate stood up and he said, 'Colson, what are you gonna do for us when you get out of here?' And I said, 'R.J., I won't forget guys like you.' And he said, 'Bull. Big shots like you come to prison and you forget little guys like us.' His words haunted me.

"When I got out of prison, I couldn't forget the people I'd left behind. I'm really encouraged that Martha Stewart has said that she wouldn't forget them either, and I'd love to take her back into some of the prisons we go into, because she could be a tremendous witness now to those inmates. And if she's successful on the outside, as every indication is she will be, all the more reason to not forget the poor people you've left behind. I hope she heard words like I did and will be haunted by them."


The Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

Leno: Martha Stewart, I guess, is going to be released from prison tomorrow. She was supposed to get out Sunday, but they're going to let her out tomorrow. Now she's under house arrest, so she'll go to her $40 million, 153-acre estate. She's going from "the big house" to the even bigger house.

The Late Show with David Letterman:

Letterman: When Martha gets out, she'll be under house arrest in her big $40 million mansion in Bedford. Boy, that will teach her. She's only allowed out of the house for, like, doctor visits, grocery shopping or to dump more stock.

Late Night with Conan O'Brien:

O'Brien: True story: Now that Martha Stewart is out of jail, she's going to go back to writing a monthly column for her magazine. Yeah, this month's column explains how to hot glue seashells to your electronic ankle bracelet.