Forensic Nursing, Martha Stewart & Determining Suitability to Stand Trial


Martha Stewart was tried and convicted for securities fraud back in 2004. She was sentenced to 5 months in a minimum-security prison. As compared to Saddam, her check-in to prison was much more private and confidential. Her prison life was much more public and some feel was easier because of her status. Reading some of her bios, it seems as if she was treated just like
any other prisoner. The wardens treated her just as bad if not worse than other inmates.

Most of the information that came about her life in prison came from Martha herself. She seems to be trying to prove she should not have been tossed into such a hostile place. Her evidence and witness attest that she was guilty. A jury proved her guilt without a doubt.

Martha did not require a lot of nursing in prison, she did explain about her “delousing” on her second day. There is not much in the literature about her medical issues, which is the way our society should treat people when they are incarcerated. As opposed to Saddam, his medical evaluation was publicized on international TV. Martha was given her dignity. Some would
argue that she did not commit as severe a crime as Saddam, but it should not matter.

As far as Forensic Nursing. There is a long process before she goes to trial to determine if she is suitable for trial. First there needs to be a determine of specific needs and the type of referral. There are two types either urgent or routine. It is hard to find any discussion on her referral but she was not a threat to herself or others, so I imagine she was a routine referral.

The next step is the type of assessment, either joint or team. Again, because of patient confidentiality, there is little discussion on this subject but would most likely be joint because of the nature of her crime, there was not much evidence or need to prove her sane or insane. Because of this, a team of people would not be necessary.

The interviewer would research her criminal history. Martha did not have any criminal history before her securities fraud. He would also research Martha’’s Psychiatric history. As far as the public knew, she had none.

Then is the interview with Martha herself. They would go through her life history, thoughts about herself and the crime she was accused of committing as well as feelings of any possible thoughts of self harm such as suicide.

They would also question and assess her attitude toward her accusations. Martha’s speech and orientation would be investigated to check if she would be competent to stand trial. This was all intact for Martha and was deemed competent for trial. She had a trial as any other normal person.

Once Martha was finally committed, she again would go though a thorough psychiatric assessment process. Items included in this assessment would include thoughts and feelings. They would focus on any feelings of potential suicide, or self harm while in prison. Inmates, when first
committed, have deep thoughts of the end of life and this has to be investigated. If there is any question a referral to an appropriate therapist would start immediately.

Self care, sleep patterns and nutrition are assessed. Inmates need to be able to care for self and have good self care habits because of the close socialization with other inmates. A person who does not care for self can easily spread disease to others and cause problems for the institution.

Adequate nutrition is also very important for both physical and emotional wellness. Depression is always a potential problem in prison and the proper diet along with self care preservation and sleep help prevent this. On the subject of sleep; adequate sleep is always essential. A schedule with a regular rest pattern also helps promote wellness.

The individuals own concerns while in prison are also questioned. Things discussed would be items like her home life before incarceration, her feelings of the family she left behind, and things which were undone. In Martha’s case there were other issues such as her businesses she left
behind. Martha was not allowed to conduct business from her place of incarceration. Because of this, it was a big concern for her to make sure she had all her businesses and her estate in order before going in.

Once all this admission data was obtained it would be reviewed by the forensic team to decide appropriate recommendations to the judge on where she should go. It was decided that Martha was not a violent criminal and she was sentenced to a minimum security facility. She had to serve five months and then was sentenced to house arrest with forty hours allowed for work and
shopping and so on .

According to Martha’’s bio, she was not treated any different than the rest of the inmates. It seems, from her diary she kept, that she thought she would be treated special. Martha had to prove herself amongst the other inmates. They treated her badly and the wardens did
nothing to stop it. She was quite appalled. It was quite the reality check for the home maker queen of America.

Martha had ongoing psychiatric evaluations and treatment to help keep her out of depression and help her to adapt to prison life. The treatment was also to help her re-adapt to life back in society. Since she was only in prison for five months, this was not a huge concern but it was evaluated on a continuous basis.

Most of this evaluation would be done by the admissions forensic nurse in the prison system. They would take the complete history and question thoughts and feelings on her current condition and feelings of her impending incarceration.

These nurses would thoroughly document all of this information for the court system as well as for her personal file. They also would do the ongoing evaluations and report all of this information to the forensic physician for any other needed treatment. Martha did not require a lot of assessment but even in her case it was comprehensive and very detailed to uncover any potential possibilities of self harm or to others while she was in prison.

Martha is still under house arrest and is still undergoing some form of forensic assessment and treatment but it gets more and more scaled back the longer she is out. Soon she will be completely out and again a productive person in society. Not that her companies are not
producing while she was in prison. She found she could not buy her way out.

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