Why Martha Really Chose Jail
By Patricia Sellers

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Martha Stewart's decision to go to jail now, pending her appeal, surprised some, but for a woman who believes that "my work is my life and my life is my work," it was an inevitable choice. FORTUNE predicted in July that Stewart would trade her freedom for the good of her company. Turns out, Stewart's lawyers have been trying for two months to get her into the minimum-security prison in Danbury, Conn., near her home and near her 90-year-old mother. On the day she disclosed that she was going to jail, she still did not know if she would get into Danbury--or where she might end up for five months' incarceration. Given that harrowing uncertainty, why would Stewart rush in? She professed at her press briefing that she wanted to get out to "plant the new spring garden," but she has another unspoken priority: To shoot her TV show in time for the fall 2005 season, she must be free by March (and since CBS dropped her program, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia must find a new distributor). Meanwhile, Martha has lined up another TV gig, with Apprentice producer Mark Burnett. Come spring, she'll be serving house arrest in Bedford, N.Y., for five months and will simultaneously shoot TV shows, rebuild her brand, await her long-shot appeal--and deal with the SEC as part of her plan to be a corporate officer at her company again. Good thing Martha loves to work. -- Patricia Sellers