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Martha: I'm ready to serve time now. She'd like to get her prison sentence over with so that she can return home in time for spring planting

Martha Stewart has been fighting the government over the details of her contentious stock sale for more than two years, but now, she says she thinks going to jail would be a good thing. At a press conference held Wednesday at the Manhattan offices of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Stewart vowed to appeal her recent conviction for lying to the government about the stock sale but said she had decided to get her prison term over with as soon as possible. ''I want to put this nightmare behind me,'' she told reporters. ''I want to reclaim my good life and good works.''

Stewart was sentenced in July to five months in prison and five more months of house arrest. She said she realized her appeal probably won't be heard until next year, and rather than have the sentence hanging over her head (and the heads of her stockholders, who've seen the value of their shares plummet during Stewart's legal battle), she said: ''I have decided to serve my sentence now.'' Besides, she said, ''I would like to be back as early in March as possible to plant a spring garden and to truly get things growing again.''

It could take a couple of weeks before probation officials and U.S. marshals determine when and where she'll serve her time. The likely choices are the federal prisons closest to where she lives, one in Danbury, Conn., near her famous house in Westport, and one in Alderson, W. Va. Wherever she goes, she won't have much room to decorate. ''All our prisons are crowded,'' Bureau of Prisons spokesman Dan Dunne told the Associated Press.

Originally posted Sep 15, 2004