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Jailing Those We're Mad-offed At

April 7, 2009 - Joselyn King
Today Bernard Madoff, age 70, sits in a 7-foot by 7-foot cell at Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan.

Next month -- after he is sentenced for defrauding investors of nearly $65 billion (with a "b") in a Ponzi scheme -- he could learn he will stay in a cell for the next 150 years.

Or until he dies.

In the interim -- as many lose their jobs and face foreclosures on their homes, and his victims try to recoup their retirement funds and lives -- Bernie doesn't have to worry about those things. He gets free room and board at the expense of taxpayers. He's set for life. He has his retirement.

Some might call for full jail time for Madoff. This does make some sense in the short term as he likely could access some buried millions and flee the country and prosecution.

But no, overall it really doesn't seem like jail is punishment for Bernie.

As the government seizes his yachts and assets -- perhaps his $7 million home -- it would be interesting to see how he might fair in today's world as a stripped down average Joe.

Just where does a 70-year-old recently convicted felon go to find a job? And where would he and his Mrs. of 54 years go to live?

I don't think their country club friends will want to play with them anymore. Oh, the embarrassment.

And there are also a lot of angry investors who might be gunning for Bernie. He likely couldn't afford security at the new tenement.

Meanwhile, he's back in that 7-foot by 7-foot jail cell -- safe and sound -- relaxing with a full belly.

So far, authorities have located only about $1 billion to serve as restitution to investors. Only $64 billion more (with a "b") is needed.

Many of them who lost their retirement are looking for jobs now -- so they can pay taxes to keep hardened criminals like Bernie in prison.

I'm reminded of something that West Virginia Senator Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, often says, "Too often we put people in jail we're mad at, and not just those we fear."

It's costing taxpayers too much money.

Honestly, I'd like to see Bernie -- wearing Martha Stewart's old electronic monitoring device around his leg -- put to court-ordered work somewhere.

It's doubtful he could ever repay restitution, but maybe he could earn his keep in some fashion.

Come to think of it, Martha could have cooked at a soup kitchen and planted flowers in city neighborhoods instead of being locked up in West Virginia.

And wouldn't you just love to see Michael Vick scraping up dog doody?


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