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Bernie Madoff: You Issue the Sentence

Madoff arrives at federal court in New York in March. (AP)

Bernie Madoff -- perhaps the swindlingest swindler in swindle history -- was sentenced earlier today to 150 years in prison, the maximum allowable under federal guidelines.

But we're wondering: Given the opportunity, what sort of sentence would you have handed down to Madoff?

Post your inventive, unconventional suggestions below. The most brilliant and creative Madoff sentence will win the honor of being featured on the front page of tomorrow's Style section.

By Washington Post Editors  |  June 29, 2009; 1:17 PM ET
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Next: Vindication?


let him live in one bedroom apt in a ghetto while working at McDonalds to earn his living

Let him live the way some of his victims will now that they lost everything

Posted by: pfeller | June 29, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Let him serve as general maid and toilet scrubber in his new cell block for the first few years and install a video cam so any of his victims or the public can tune in to watch.

His nickname on the cell block will likely be Peanut Butter until he gets "broken in" by his new buddies

Posted by: gce1356 | June 29, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

If we weren't all so stupid, we would have drug him through the streets by a rope attached to his feet, pausing briefly from time to time to allow bystanders to beat him, until he died.

Then tar his corpse and hang it on a pole near the entrance to the Wall Street district.

Like what they did with the pirates.

Really, that's what he and his cronies deserve, we're just all too stupid and - tragically - he knows it. He's laughing at us all the way to his color-TV appointed federal penitentiary.

Posted by: Heerman532 | June 29, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Have him live and work in--24 hours a day, 7 days a week, forbidden to leave the building, ever--a homeless shelter in the most economically depressed part of Miami or New Orleans.

If he leaves the building,refuses any work, denies service to any patron or resident, fails to follow the instructions of the administrator, ever, he is transferred to solitary at Marion for life.

Posted by: dwatkins1 | June 29, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

If the total amount swindled by Mr. Madoff was approximately $65 billion, I'd restructure the 150 year sentence as follows: 150 years maximum, with a 2 year reduction for each one billion dollars recovered from information supplied by Mr. Madoff; but in no case less than a minimum of 5 years time served.

Posted by: garymichel13 | June 29, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

It's a start, but when will they arrest, confiscate, and sentence the other CEOs who ripped off investors?

Most of the financial execs need to be serving at least 5-10 years of hard time and have all their non-IRA/401k assets seized and liquidated, followed by parole.

Posted by: WillSeattle | June 29, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

If Bush and Paulson had got their way Madoff would have got off scott free, under the Immunity Bush and Paulson wanted to include under the original multi trillion dollar blank check TARP request, which congress threw out and changed to the limited 800 billion TARP.

Now Justice should go after the culprits in the multi Trillion dollar CDS Ponzi Scheme that brought America to Great Depressions II.

Posted by: walker1 | June 29, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Even though this cretin has been sentenced to 150 years, he will live in relative luxury (a federal penitentiary for white collar criminals -- many have golf courses, libraries, movies, and tennis courts) while thousands of his lesser known victims will struggle to survive against joblessness and basic health care -- many now homeless.

While he writes his memoirs, enjoying full health care paid for by us, he'll receive several lucrative publishing offers -- though these should be confiscated.

After about three years, he'll develop a medical condition and be moved to a modern, specialized medical facility and waited on hand and foot.

Where is the justice in that?

In this particular case I think it is totally appropriate to bring back the old fashioned public stockade -- that thing with a hole for the head and hands -- and it should be placed in the middle of Times Square for at least a month, 24/7.

If people choose to feed and water him, so be it. If not, well... then the public has spoken.


Posted by: Frank57 | June 29, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

spend the rest of his days taking the place of a desperate lab chimp or rat in a medical or toxicology testing lab.

Posted by: wesco1 | June 29, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I think he should do his time in a maximum security prison just like any ordinary criminal. He committed a worse crime than armed robbery. All his and his wife's assets should be taken as partial repayment to the victims.

Posted by: skyflyer | June 29, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

He had a great life for 71 years. Most folks his age have health problems or zero money so going to jail is about the same. He is the winner (and his wife and kids obviously have a few pennies in Switzerland).

Posted by: ridagana | June 29, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Madoff stole from charities and he inflicted immense pain on his fellow human beings. He is a hard man not to despise. The law, however, is not about revenge and shouldn't be about harsh punishments. Our punitive system of justice has created a black hole in society which is the uniquely horrific US prison system. Sending Madoff there shames him and it shames us.

Posted by: angelcortazar | June 29, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I hope Bernie lives another 50 years . . . all behind bars. His wife should be stripped of all her belongings, given one set of used clothes to wear, a cardboard box from an old kitchen appliance to live in, and point her in the direction of a bridge overpass, under which she can live with other homeless people. Maybe some of her new neighbors will be some of Madoff's victims.

Posted by: EddieV | June 29, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

So for punishment, he will be provided with a temperature-controlled environment with solid walls and roof, will be served 3 meals a day, will never be denied medical or dental care and he will never have to pay for his keep. He won't go to a regular prison because he's too special; he'll get the special white collar location so he won't be soiled. He'll be allowed to earn money through his best-selling, how I screwed my investors book and cannot be forced to talk about anyone else who knew about and/or participated in his actions. And the citizens whom he screwed get to pay for all of this. This is justice?

Posted by: retiredlady2 | June 29, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Get as much Money as the govenment can. Remember Ken Lay of Enron, who appealed his conviction. He died while waiting for his appeal trial, and since he died before his re-trial, he was technically innocent and his wife got all of the money. The same thing will happen to Madoff. He will appeal the conviction for 10 years.

Posted by: PaulO2 | June 29, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Great stuff that you posted Frank 57 I could not have done it better thanks, only thing is that is what should happen to the OBAMA Administration including all that are screwing up this country day by day now. I can't think of anyone that could do it faster than this guy OBAMANATION and his Administration he is just that an OBAMANATION to our country.

Posted by: scottymax | June 29, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Madoff should be set free with no money, the clothes on his back only, no place to live except homeless shelters, no food available except from soup kitchens for the poor, no job except minimum wage ones such as greeter at Wal Mart.

He should be forced to live this sort of life for as long as he lives.

Posted by: janye1 | June 29, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Sartre and Steinbeck would see Mr. Madoff's hell as the hell of Tantalus.

It would be something to project a hologram (with the riches of Croesus), just outside Mr. Madoff's cell. If he ignored it, the cause of his downfall would be eternally just outside of his reach. If he reached for it, it would disappear.

And let his reading material be Dante's Inferno, especially the sections on the fourth and ninth circle of hells, where those who have avarice and break the trust of their friends are consigned.

Posted by: Paladin7b | June 29, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Paulson should be next!

Posted by: Zebragirl | June 29, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Madoff, stripped to his waist, should be flagellated, using a cane, in Times Square for all people to see. The flagellation should be done once a month for 15 years, which is about 10 percent of the length of time he's sentenced in prison. If he survives, banish him to Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan, or anyone of those countries, and let him live with the population for at least five years. If he survives still, bring him back to the US and let him stay at Alcatraz so he can watch the birds and the sunset till the day he dies. Then good riddance Mr. Swindler!

Posted by: PhilVoiceNews | June 29, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

They should strip him naked, tag him like an endangered animal and implant an explosive device in his chest, then drop him by parachute into the middle of a big national wilderness in Montana. If he leaves the boundaries of the wilderness, the device explodes.

Posted by: Extempraneous | June 29, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

It sounds like people are mad and wanting to spill blood, but the reality is 150 years is best case scenario.

Also, this is a reminder for us not to put all our eggs in one basket, too.

Posted by: Revcain777 | June 29, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

please have him deported first to save tax dollars second send him to a country that the punishment for such crimes are to remove body parts ps send the whole family they all knew

Posted by: johnjamj | June 29, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Wow...I wish people on this forum would serve on more juries.

To clear up some falsehoods. While it is not certain, it appears that he will be spending his time in a medium security prison. Since I have never been in one...I can not tell you what it is like...but I very much doubt that it will be enjoyable.

I agree with Bernie receiving a nice long sentence (which would end up being a life sentence since he is older)...but its length still needs to be balanced against crimes like Murder and Rape. As it stands now he could have killed a few people and have gotten a lesser sentence...which doesn't make sense to me.

Posted by: littleharbor | June 29, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Judge Chin was absolutly wrong in agreeing with the prosecution on the length of the sentence. Sentencing a 71 year old man to 150 years is just plain stupid!

Posted by: bncoop | June 29, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Put him in stocks like the olden days, and people could abuse and berate him and throw rotten tomatoes. Either that or the death penalty. This guy is lower than dirt and there just isn't a rough enough penalty for ruining so many peoples lives and futures.

Posted by: jstoltman | June 29, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

He has not told investigators everything.

Not sure who he's protecting, but maybe in a year or two, make him a deal that if he spills ALL the beans, part of his sentence will be commuted.

I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but I am simply not convinced this the "end" of the story--just the beginning. We're talking about billions "lost"?

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | June 29, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Madoff's cell would be crowded. He was not alone in this. I heard on 60 Minutes that no major Wall Street Investment firm lost money with Madoff. They knew enough to avoid him but never took steps to expose him. They should share some of his prison time. Also, apparently there were "feeder" funds that helped bring new customers to Madoff. Obviously they didn't do their homework before making recommendations. They should join Madoff in prison as well. Also, according to 60 Minutes, the SEC was first alerted about Madoff in May of 2000. They were sent several warnings over the years. Apparently they did not follow up. So they could join Madoff in his cell also.

Posted by: chris_chi | June 29, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

a paper-cut for every stolen dollar, then dipped in pickle juice.

Posted by: cyano | June 29, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

There are a lot of thoughts and emotions here, but first of all... take it easy, gentlemen. Aren't you a little bit out of senses saying century and a half is not enough? A desire for a brutal vengeance was never a sign of a civilized man. Then, please, let's not take the story that simple. It's for the CNN to picture enraged but satisfied with their righteous anger down-and-out victims in front of the national court, where the justice have just triumphed over a financial monster, marking the greatness of the american judicial system. For a somehow coolly curious mind it's a life story of an outstandic personality, whatever devil he was, and a remarkable story of corruption and greed and self-delusion. Sure, there was a fraud, but, say frankly, have't been a lot of those decieved investors closing their eyes against something they simply didn't want to see? Sure, there were a lot of those who have never heard about Madoff before last December, and they are trully decived and hurt and fully desrve a compassion. But what about many more other "victims" who must have suspected something, given their business records and social status, but ignored the most explicit red flags, including direct warning letters. And finally, why don't you want to arraign those CEO guys from Wall Street who brought about all that fianacnial mess and comfortably "parachuted" with millions in their pockets, or hedge managers who made billions on that panic, or after all those legislator who made it possible to steal legally. That's the real enemies of society, not less dangerous than the 71-eyers old grey-headed fraud. And, of course, our own greed.

Posted by: julianS | June 29, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Madoff's sentence should be shared in equal parts by his former associates and everyone at the SEC who knew (or even suspected)what he was doing and did nothing about it.

Posted by: overhereontheleft | June 29, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

The "victims" here must share some of the responceability for this swindle. These people had to be insiders to be taken advantage of. How could anyone possible honestly believe they would get anywhere between 10 and 20 % on their investment while you and I were getting 2 and 3 percent if we were lucky. Greed, sorry.

Posted by: jefferson63 | June 29, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Monthly flagellations in Times Square? Tar his corpse and hang it on a pole near the entrance to the Wall Street district? This is getting pretty sick!

Is the WP's intent to stir up an angry mob fueled by righteous indignation.

Is this, perhaps, what you were really looking for:

"Take Madoff and all the other financiers and their friends and family - they're all guilty after all - and put them in a special facility where they can do hard labor to recompense ordinary Americans for their crimes. Remove their gold teeth. Subject them to medical experiments that can benefit the American people. Then they deserve to die. Put them to death in gas chambers by the hundreds, every Wall Street broker and AIG exec. Burn their bodies in ovens...."

But first, we annex Canada.....

Posted by: David61 | June 29, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Madoff deserves "special" punishment for the heinous nature of his crimes. The hurt and harm he has caused is irreperable; a "special punishment" should include him having to live with the people whose lives he has destroyed, and experience their pain and suffering.
His crimes are not substantially different than serial murder! He has effectively ended the lives or thousands of people.

Posted by: mike911 | June 29, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

and yes, the judgment. I'm sure it would have benefited everyone if such a seasoned financier (don't forget about Nasdaq) and, semmingly, talanted fraud, as Bernie Madoff have resumed legal business on Wall Street, and also taken a job in SEC's investigation department, with restictions on freedom and assets taken away. Obviously with all the proceedings given to victims. Real victims. The question about other "victims" and the family is a very tough, indeed, but certainly, there were a lot of "buddies" who are also in charge. for example there is a family who got back as mush as $5 billion during those years. The question is how to find all of them, and how to distinguish victims from accomplices,and how to punish them, bearing in mind that the main goal is to give money back to those who lost. It seems, that the better way, again, is put them in a position to participate with the investigators and not simply to put a swindler behind bars. But of course, nothing of that sort will ever be done to any criminal, since it is too pragmatic and really functional, and too cold-blooded no... people always want blood. Brutality and greed are the two daughtors of madness. But isn't that quite enough of Mads?

Posted by: julianS | June 29, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I hope this monster is sent to a maximum security prison. He murdered, in the coldest blood, the lives of hundreds. Hundreds are now reduced to nothing, living in fear and deprivation. There are plenty of convicts in max lock-up who are old; they'll die in prison. So should be Madoff's fate. No country club lock-up for him.

Posted by: gaystaggo | June 29, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Ruth Madoff shouldn't be allowed to keep any money, let along the $2.5M that's supposedly hers.

They should be made to live on the streets and eat from the trash can. He does not deserve to be in a comfortable prison taking up tax payers' money.

Posted by: mwickers1106 | June 29, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

While all the retribution against Madoff is simply a flash in the pan, the anger is understandable. He deserves whatever sentence and punishment he gets, no doubt.

However, there are two aspects here that should give us much to ruminate and deserve extensive journalistic exposure.

Firstly, as some have mentioned, the victims here are simply not all innocent. Some even withdrew much more than they put in, possibly making them complicit in the robbery of others. All of the investors who chose Madoff or subsidiary investment vehicles thought they were getting an incredible deal, that they were part of the inside of the financial machine. Well, it doesn't take much to realize that they all played a role in this massive fraud, and without their choices, perhaps gullible ones, but still made without coercion, none of this would be possible. This proves to us that a vast majority of individual investors simply are not prepared for the complexity of the financial system, and are unable or unwilling to distinguish fact from fiction. It was not just the greed of these individuals, but a deep desire to believe their status in life justified a higher reward than others. Until this popped, these folks must have regarded non-Madoffs as either unlucky or stupid, when in reality they should have been looking in the mirror. Is this simply human nature, or something more disturbing?

Second, and this is even more troubling, are the institutional investors that actively enabled, profited from, but then also fell victim to Madoff's Ponzi scheme. These were respected financial professionals who either could not see the disaster, or worse, actually believed that this is how the financial system really works. This proves that there are many respected high-net worth individuals, and institutional investors, who simply do not know what they are investing in, and invested irrationally on the basis of misplaced trust for decades. This fact should trouble us immensely, because it fundamentally removes the basis for any rational economic theory of capitalistic behavior, which further calls into question the enormous disparity in wealth distribution and its true impacts on resource allocation. This is simply a mammoth example of the poorest investment decisions by some of the best and brightest people around. Perhaps it teaches us that money is a drug, and lots of money is a dangerously addictive drug, which is capable of perverting human behavior and causing mass destruction.

Posted by: AgentG | June 29, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

As for punishment, I believe the Madoff's should be forced to work for minimum wage, and live accordingly, so as to experience the disparity of wealth in our country first-hand.

Posted by: AgentG | June 29, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

The judge was correct in agreeing with the prosecution on the length of the sentence. There is a story that when Judge Mountain Landis was on the bench, he sentenced an older man to a long sentence. The man complained that he could not live long enough to complete the sentence, and Judge Landis told the man to do the best he could. Do the best you can, Madoff, and live a long live in prison.

Posted by: randy28146 | June 29, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

place him in a maximum security prison so that he "interacts" with other criminals. my guess is that crips and bloods will take good care of him.

Posted by: davidarosy1 | June 29, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

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