Video: Fresh start for Stewart

By Anne Thompson Chief environmental correspondent
NBC News
updated 3/4/2005 10:40:14 AM ET 2005-03-04T15:40:14

Celebrity homemaker Martha Stewart has returned to her Bedford, N.Y., home to begin the home confinement stage of her sentence for obstruction of justice.

NBC News' Anne Thompson reports from outside Stewart's home that the domestic diva's hopes of working in the garden may be allowed, as long as any time is approved by her probation officer as part of the 48-hour work week. Impromptu plantings will not be permitted. And don't expect a Stewart diet book anytime soon.

What’s next? Can you explain the conditions of Stewart’s house arrest?
She’s going to spend five months under home confinement, which means she has to stay inside the main house on her farm here in Bedford. She can leave only to go to work and she can work 48 hours a week. The other exceptions are that she can leave to go to church, to go see the doctor or the dentist, or to go to the grocery store.

All of her movements, all of her activities outside the house, must first be approved by her probation officer. If her work required her to cross state lines — for example, if she wanted to go to her studio in Westport, CT, — she would first have to get permission from her probation officer to do that.

During the five-month period she will wear an electronic tether to monitor her movements inside the house. When she leaves the house and the signal is broken, the probation officers will know that she has left the house. So, if she leaves the house at an unapproved time, they will know something is wrong and she could essentially be in trouble.

So, how will the restrictions affect her wish to get back outside and begin planting her spring garden?
That’s the interesting thing — probation officials tell me that she can only go outside to garden, if it is part of that approved 48 hours a week that is considered work. She just can’t — on a whim — decide she wants to go out and water her flowers or plant her seeds. She must first tell her probation officer and get it approved within that 48-hour work week.

She can entertain during her confinement?
Yes, friends can come over — the only restriction on that is she can’t associate with any known criminals or any convicted felons. Otherwise, she can have friends over.

What is the security like outside her Bedford, New York home?
There is no visible sign of security around her property. Her property is surrounded by a stone fence, but we are not seeing private security cars driving around. There is a police car that drives up and down the street, but that is mainly to enforce the no-parking rule that the town of Bedford has in effect on her street. But, that’s really the only sign of security.

What is the media presence like outside her home?
This is interesting. There are pool cameras, I believe four pool cameras around her house, to capture any comings and goings.

But as far as a “Camp Martha,” that doesn’t exist here, in part because of the law that says you can’t park on the street where she lives.

So, what NBC has done is we rented the yard across the street from her, so we’ve been able to set up our cameras there. But, to the best of my knowledge, all the other networks are in the town.

So there is no media circus out here, per se. There are helicopters flying overhead getting live aerials of her estate, but that's pretty much it.

When might we see her next?
That is a good question. Until she goes to her probation officer, she is under terms of supervised release. So, she can go and do pretty much anything she wants in the Southern District of New York and that is essentially Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester, Putnam, Orange, and Rockland counties.

But, once she gets that electronic tether, and once she meets with her probation officer, the home confinement officially begins. 

I don’t know, quite frankly, when we are going to see her again. We are all keeping a very close eye to see if she does go see her probation officer today.

Finally, Stewart has big plans for the future. Will one of those be a diet book since she apparently lost 20 pounds in prison? 
That’s a good question, but something tells me that the diet Martha Stewart has been on she would not recommend to anyone.

From talking to people that have visited with her or corresponded with her while she was in prison, she has complained quite extensively about the bad food in prison. Not just about the taste, but about the fact that it’s not particularly nutritious.

So, I don’t think you’ll see a diet book coming from her. But, who knows. Martha Stewart has this great ability to take a terrible situation and make it work for her. So, anything is possible.

Anne Thompson is an NBC News correspondent based in New York.

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