Madoff had his day in court. He will have more. Madoff plead guilty to eleven felony counts of fraud – of stealing from trusting customers. But Madoff did not just steal the jewelery like a common burglar, he took the whole house, the car, the children’s teddy bear, and the family retirement account. In his statement to the judge he said he could not ‘adequately express his sorrow.’ Madoff will be sentenced for his crimes in June. Until then he has been remanded to jail. So what would be an adquate punishment for the man without adequate sorrow? What is an appropriate sentence?
This writer has less sympathy for Madoff than I have for a psychotic serial killer, or even a non-psychotic serial killer. Bernie Madoff’s crimes are equal to those of Osama Bin Laden. Madoff is nothing less than a terrorist. At least Bin Laden has the excuse of religious fanaticism. Bin Laden hopes for 72 virgins in heaven. Madoff want the virgins right now. Bin Laden has a cause beyond himself, Madoff’s cause was himself.
Can we imagine the terror of the families that have lost everything? Can we imagine the charities that have lost their resources – resources used to help the least privileged of our population? The suffering caused by Madoff is unmearsurable. We will likely never know the depths of despair caused by this self-righteous terrorist.
Because Madoff is an American citizen he was granted rights beyond those of ‘enemy combatants.’ He did not wait his turn at justice in a cell in Guantanamo – he waited in his plush luxury appartment in New York. I am not suggesting here that jail is in any way pleasant. The most celebrated of minimum security jails is no picnic. And the contrast of jail life to Madoff’s former life of luxury is phenomenal. But is jail enough, is jail an adequate punishment for a man who has caused such staggering grief?
Madoff is fortunate to be an American. Other countries would devise unthinkable punishments for someone who has so directly harmed the citizens. It is tough to be an American today – for to be an American is to rise above the anger and despair. America seeks justice, but we do not seek vengence.
There is no adequate punishment for Madoff. As there is no adequate punishment for a serial rapist/killer. Our anger and bitterness cannot be satisfied with vengence. People like Madoff and the other crooks on Wall Street leave us hollowed out, empty, disillusioned, and vengeful.
There is surely some maximum security Federal Prison where the inmates are not safe from the other inmates. There is surely some nasty prison guard with tenure in his prison guard union who would like the opportunity to guard Madoff. There is surely some way we can hold our heads up as Americans and feel satisfied that Madoff is suffering adequately.
But this is America. We are proud of our country. We are proud that our country does not stoop to the levels of terrorists like Madoff and Bin Laden.