Celebrity prison stories

No matter how you slice it, going to jail is inevitably going to be a humbling experience, especially when your every move is splashed across the tabloids. These celebs did some time in the slammer and have since been sprung to tell their tales. From dropping the soap to odd moments of clarity, here's now Lindsay Lohan, Kiefer Sutherland, and more passed the time while incarcerated.

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart spent part of her five months in federal prison exactly as you might expect: making arts and crafts. According to The New York Times, Stewart revealed in 2016 that she passed the time by doing everything from making jam to ceramic nativity sets.

"You're allowed to make three things in a year, I think, and I only had five months so I made an entire creche…the entire scene of the nativity," said Stewart, who was imprisoned for her alleged involvement in an insider trading scandal. Speaking to a crowd at a brunch event, she said, "So I had many figures, something like 15 figures, and you're only allowed to make three, but I persuaded them the whole nativity was one and they fell for it. You couldn't just make three camels—you had to make everything."

But life behind bars wasn't entirely wine and roses. Speaking to the Today show in 2013, Stewart—who was also sentenced to more than five months of home arrest—described her prison time as "terrible." "It's hard to say, 'Good comes out of a bad time,'" Stewart told anchor Matt Lauer. "And that saying that, 'It only makes you better'? Oh my gosh. Bull. It's terrible. I lost a fortune."

Teresa Giudice

Life inside federal prison was gross beyond words, according to a 2016 prison memoir released by The Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice. She served 11 months for conspiracy and bankruptcy fraud charges and supposedly dealt with everything from strip searches to inmate-on-inmate action. "The ladies were getting it on so much that our room became known as the Boom Boom Room," she writes (via People).

In a separate interview with People, Giudice alleged that the food at her prison was expired. "Everything was expired. In the summer it got around that someone saw maggots in the rice, and that blew around the camp quick," she said. "I was grossed-out and never wanted to eat rice again but at the same time I was starting to cut out the carbs so it kind of worked anyway." She added, "I had like a lot of stomach problems there. I couldn't go to the bathroom I was, like, dying. I was like, 'My stomach is killing me.' I started not eating so much of the meat because I would get sick. The meat I didn't eat because I knew it was definitely expired."

Ja Rule

Ja Rule (real name Jeffrey Atkins) spent two years behind bars on gun possession and tax evasion charges. While in prison, he made the unlikeliest of friends by way of former politician Alan Hevesi and disgraced CEO Dennis Kozlowski. "Outside, you don't meet guys like this every day. This place is amazing," Rule told the New York Daily News while he was still incarcerated.

The three inmates reportedly bonded over card games, basketball, and television, among other things. Rule also said Kozlowski, whom he nicknamed "Koz," supported the rapper's education goals. "I was studying for my GED and Koz came in and talked to me and said, 'if you need any help, let me know,'" he told the New York Daily News.

Rule also discussed his stint in prison with talk show host Wendy Williams. "When I got there, people actually had a lot of admiration for me; a lot of love for me," he said.

Well, when you make such classic '90s songs like "Livin' it Up," what's not to love?

Lil Wayne

Rapper Lil Wayne (real name Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.) spent eight months in prison for a gun-possession charge in 2010. During his stint, he kept a journal of his life behind bars, which he later turned into a memoir called Gone 'Til November. In the book, Wayne discusses everything from visits with psychiatrists, to fights with inmates and that time he recorded a rap for Drake over the phone.

"Who knew that my spirit was about to be lifted through the roof! [My manager] Tez was like, 'We want you to be on Drake's remix.' I was like, 'How?' And he was like, 'We're going to do it over the phone.' I'm like, 'S*** … I don't have anything else better to do up in this b****, so let's go!” Wayne writes (via Vulture). "After I finished running it, I was kinda nervous on how it was going to be received. This was the first time that I haven't been in the studio to hear the playback before a song goes out."

He continues, "I can't front, I'm really bugging out knowing that I can record a song AND it would be on the radio and everything. My main thought is, Damn…if I can do this, I'm about to go to the studio every night. I told Tez to have the mic on standby from here on out. Nothing else that happened today mattered. Nothing can touch how happy I am. My creativity is at an all-time high right now! I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow."

Lil' Kim

Despite spending almost a year in jail for federal perjury charges, rapper Lil' Kim (real name Kimberly Denise Jones) managed to find the sunny side of a rather dark situation. 

"When I first got to prison, I slept so good for the first three weeks," she told MTV News in 2011. "I was working that whole two months before, nonstop, trying to finish an album, doing promo, doing [a] TV show, doing shows, doing all types of things. So I never slept, never [rested] at all for two months straight… When I got there, I kind of just collapsed."

She said she was "greeted with open arms by a lot of wonderful, wonderful girls" at the prison, many with whom she remains friends. She also said she received support from none other than talk show icon Oprah Winfrey. "She sent me three of her favorite books and said, 'Read these for inspiration and motivation,'" Kim said. "She wrote me a letter in each book and just was like, 'Kim, you have so much potential. You're a very bright young girl.'"

Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan's seemingly never-ending legal drama was a PR nightmare for the Mean Girls (2004) star. And yet, even in her darkest moments, she managed to find a bit of solace in the situation. 

In 2014, on The Jonathan Ross Show, Lohan recalled the 14 days she spent in solitary confinement to protect her from the other inmates. "The weirdest part was, for me, I finally had silence in my life. As terrified as I was, and as scared as I was, I finally felt like I didn't have to answer to anyone. I didn't have to do anything for anyone. That was the weirdest part of it."

Still, Lohan confessed that two weeks of solitary proved to be a bit much. "Two days would have been enough," she said.

Kiefer Sutherland

In December 2007, Kiefer Sutherland was sentenced to 48 days in prison following a DUI arrest. While he has since regretted the actions that led to his incarceration, he did admit to late night host David Letterman that finding humor in certain situations helped him move past the embarrassing nightmare.

"I was uniquely aware of where I was," Sutherland said on the Late Show. "I remember in the second day, third day, I was in the showers, and… I actually dropped the soap. And I remember looking down at the soap and looking around and went, 'Soap is overrated.' And, 'I'm done with my shower.'"

Okay, fine. We laughed, too.

Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton's time behind bars was arguably as dramatic as the probation violation that sent her behind bars in the first place. Perhaps because of all the drama, once she was actually incarcerated, the heiress found herself humble and grateful for the freedoms she temporarily lost. Speaking from prison to radio host Ryan Seacrest, Hilton told stories about fan mail, supportive inmates, and experiencing a wide range of emotions. Ultimately, she said she felt God had put her there for a reason.

"I just feel that my life was going really fast. And there are so many people that look up to you. And the craziness of it all, sort of living in a superficial world. Now that I've been here and I've been seeing life through different eyes—just getting letters from all around the world—I have a lot of compassion for things that are going on around me that are so much more important than things I ever thought about," she said (via E!News).

Hilton continued, "I'm so much more grateful for everything that I have, even just to have a pillow at night or food or anything. My gratitude has gone up so much and I just realize that the media used me to make fun of and be mean about. I'm frankly sick of it. I want to use my fame in a good way."