“Free Bernie Madoff!”

Friday, December 11, 2009

Actually, it never made sense to put him in prison in the first place.

As I see it, the only good reason to put someone in prison is self defense, to prevent him (or her) from doing bad things to one of us. To imprison someone as punishment or revenge for bad things done, but not to be repeated, is immature and spiteful. It’s a waste of time and money that could be better invested.

I didn’t lose anything to Bernie Madoff, but, if I had, the last thing I’d want to do with someone with his particular skill set would be locking him up where the best he can do is work for the prison laundry or cafeteria for pennies an hour. No way.

If he stole money from me, I’d want him out of prison, with one of those ankle bracelets we use nowadays to monitor criminals on work-release programs, sitting in front of a computer, in a trading room or wherever he needs to be, earning as much money as he can – but legitimately this time. His incentive? Limited mobility and income as a percent of what he pays to his victims. If it was me he screwed, I’d want him working night and day to pay me back.

And if he fails to meet certain reasonable objectives, if he’s less than busy with the task of making restitution, or if his behavior is insufficiently contrite or otherwise inappropriate, then we can always send him back to jail, can’t we?

So let’s let Bernie go. Let’s save taxpayers the cost of keeping him in jail. Let’s be smart and put him to work for the people whose wealth and lives he stole. Many of them are having to work to replace what he took, why shouldn’t he? To waste all that experience and expertise, to effectively steal those potential earnings from his victims by keeping Bernie Madoff in prison is nothing short of… well, criminal.

-wf


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