About . . . . Classes . . . . Books . . . . Vita . . . . Blog. . . . Podcast

by Peter Moskos

June 28, 2011

Retribution on Bernie Madoff

The New York Times has an article about the absurd sentence (150 years) Madoff received. Why is absurd? Not because he doesn't deserve it. It's absurd because Madoff was then 71 years old! Seems to me a good defense of flogging:
Judge Chin’s recollections resurrect all the anger, shock and confusion that surrounded Mr. Madoff’s crimes, and provide a rare peek at the excruciating pressure faced by a judge who had to balance the law, the public’s emotions and his own deeply held beliefs while meting out a sentence that was just and satisfied the court’s need to send a message.
“I’m surprised Chin didn’t suggest stoning in the public square,” [Madoff said].
Judge Chin noted in the interviews that 20 or 25 years would have effectively been a life sentence for Mr. Madoff, and any additional years would have been purely symbolic. Yet symbolism was important, he said, given the enormity of Mr. Madoff’s crimes.
But he decided that a term of 150 years would send a loud and decisive message. He felt that Mr. Madoff’s “conduct was so egregious,” he said, “that I should do everything I possibly could to punish him.”
By the time Judge Chin entered his chambers on the morning of Monday, June 29, he had decided what his draft was missing, he said. In explaining how the 150-year sentence was symbolically important, he had neglected to include a third, crucial reason: retribution.

A defendant should get his just deserts,” Judge Chin remembers thinking.
Judge Chin read his passage on retribution, which, after the length of the sentence itself, appeared to have the greatest impact. In the headlines and news accounts that followed, the words “extraordinarily evil” seemed to be everywhere.
No rehab. No bettering of the soul. Punishment.

In New York, a 150-year sentence would, should Madoff live to be 221-years old, cost me and other good citizens of the Empire State more than $7 million. There has got to be a better way.

1 comment:

There are some who call me... Tim said...

Prince Humperdinck: First things first, to the death.
Westley: No. To the pain.
Prince Humperdinck: I don't think I'm quite familiar with that phrase.
Westley: I'll explain and I'll use small words so that you'll be sure to understand, you warthog faced buffoon.
Prince Humperdinck: That may be the first time in my life a man has dared insult me.
Westley: It won't be the last. To the pain means the first thing you will lose will be your feet below the ankles. Then your hands at the wrists. Next your nose.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my tongue I suppose, I killed you too quickly the last time. A mistake I don't mean to duplicate tonight.
Westley: I wasn't finished. The next thing you will lose will be your left eye followed by your right.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my ears, I understand let's get on with it.
Westley: WRONG. Your ears you keep and I'll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out, "Dear God! What is that thing," will echo in your perfect ears. That is what to the pain means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever.
Prince Humperdinck: I think you're bluffing.
Westley: It's possible, Pig, I might be bluffing. It's conceivable, you miserable, vomitous mass, that I'm only lying here because I lack the strength to stand. But, then again... perhaps I have the strength after all.