Martha Stewart’s back home after bravely serving her 5-month prison sentence when she didn’t have to, and I say: Bravo, girl!

We’ll undoubtedly hear the usual sniping about how Martha has somehow managed to profit from her prison experience (the stock in her Martha Stewart Omnimedia Corp. has been soaring) and how she’s never aplogized for fudging to FBI agents who were trying to nail her on an insider-trading charge they couldn’t make stick because she didn’t do any insider-trading. I don’t understand why Martha’s supposed to wallow in guilt: 1) She’s got an appeal pending on what seem to be solid legal grounds; and 2) I don’t think she did anything wrong in the first place. How can you cover up a nonexistent crime?

Martha got a bum rap because she a) made millions of dollars peddling the politically incorrect message that it’s nice for a woman to keep a gracious home; and 2) wasn’t very kind to her employees. As a sometime employee myself, I sympathize deeply with the latter folk, but screaming at the help is not a felony.

I’ll let Henry Blodget of Slate (who covered Martha’s trial) take over:

“Her detractors are incensed that she’s getting out of jail, free’that she gets to go back to being rich, powerful, and famous. They seethe that the jailbird has made no groveling apologies or pleas for forgiveness. Perhaps, once her appeal is finished, Stewart will provide them. Based on her comments so far, however’don’t hold your breath.

“In the oceans of Martha coverage, it would be nice to see some acknowledgement that Stewart has not only paid dearly for her mistakes, but proved that she has learned from them. It would also be nice to see acknowledgement that Stewart might not, in fact, have much to apologize for. Given the extraordinary risks and costs of defending oneself, most (sane) criminal defendants don’t go to trial just to try to ‘beat the rap.’ Instead, they fight when A) they have nothing to lose, or B) they believe they have been falsely charged and would rather get convicted than confess to something they didn’t do. In some cases, including this one, the belief may be based on denial, but only the defendant knows for sure. Normally, we admire those who remain true to themselves no matter the cost, and perhaps Stewart will someday get some credit for doing so. Or at least a grudging admission that, apology or no, she’s paid her dues….

Furthermore, Blodget points out that Martha might have even finally repaired that hole in her soul when it comes to the little people: 

“Reports from Alderson [the federal prison in West Virginia where she was incarcerated] have described apologies to other inmates for ‘bossy’ behavior, microwaved apples for Valentine’s Day, donated linens and comforters, yoga lessons, and deep empathy (and public support) for first-time offenders clobbered by mandatory sentencing guidelines. Martha as mensch’that would be a truly formidable businesswoman and celebrity.

“Martha Stewart’s life is now the quintessential American story: from rags to riches to destruction to’one hopes’grace. In the last 20 years, she has demonstrated enough courage, stamina, vision, determination, and pluck to have earned every bit of her fortune and fame. Now, with the addition of more humanity, she will serve as living proof that life is what you make it’that, no matter what, there’s always a way to mix lemonade. And then sell it.”

Ex-con Martha, we wish you the best.