The head of the guards union at the federal prison where Martha Stewart (search) will serve her time said Monday that staffing shortages will make it difficult to protect her.

Staffing at the minimum-security women's prison at Alderson has fallen from 60 guards four years ago to 35 because of budget cuts, said Kent Gilkerson, local president of the Council of Prison Locals (search). The prison houses about 1,000 inmates.

Traci Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (search), had no immediate comment Monday on Gilkerson's claims.

Stewart, 63, was convicted in March of lying to investigators about a stock sale. She must report to the prison Friday and serve five months behind bars.

Gilkerson said inmates at the prison are sometimes left unattended. Phil Glover, the union's national president, said workers sometimes perform duties normally done by guards, such as screening telephone calls.