Monday, June 29, 2009

Why Not Confine Bernie Madoff to a Supermax?

Bernie Madoff will need to adapt to prison cuisine

There was no real doubt today about the 150-year sentence Judge Denny Chin imposed today on Bernie Madoff.

After all, he did nothing to warrant leniency. The only concession that Madoff was in a position to make, which was a full and truthful account of his scam, was not provided. We know that didn't happen, for otherwise a flock other defendants would already be charged.

So far, Madoff has done an excellent job of keeping his accomplices out of prison. Hopefully his string of luck in that regard will win out.

Right now the only leverage that can be imposed on him is in the hands of the Bureau of Prisons. The conventional wisdom is that he'll get sentenced to a medium security prison, possibly the one in Otisville northwest of New York.

That strikes me as absurd. Why throw away the only remaining leverage the government has on Madoff?

Medium security prisons are no picnic, believe me. They're surrounded by forbidding barriers of razor wire, and the atmosphere is suitably cramped and depressing. Still, they're nothing compared to maximum or supermax prisons, which is where the really worst offenders are held--terorists, top-ranking Mafiosi and convicted spies.

I'd toss him in one of the supermaxes. There is one supermax facility in Florence, Colorado. (There used to be one in Marion, Illinois, but it ain't supermax no more.)

After a few weeks in ADX Florence, I'll bet his stonewalling on his accomplices will come to an end, and that he'll be squealing like a rat in heat--even if it means turning in his sons, his wife, or even his mother if she were still alive.

Besides, it's just the most suitable place to hold someone who committed the kind of crime that he perpetrated, hurting so many innocent people and destroying the little faith that the public had in the financial system.

Can someone please explain to me in what way Bernie Madoff is less deserving of confinement in the supermax than John Gotti, Ramzi Yousef (the 1993 World Trade Center bomber) or Jonathan Pollard?

I thought not.

If he talks, Bernie can be confined to one of the maximum security institutions, such as Leavenworth, and if he's a really good boy, if his ratting results in convictions, if every loose cent is accounted for, then maybe then he can go to Otisville.

And in the unlikely event that he's been telling the truth--that he alone was responsible for such a massive scam--then he'd be in just the right place.

Strikes me as a win-win proposition all around.

UPDATE: A commenter points out that Andrew Fastow of Enron fame is at Florence.

I rest my case.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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