Mike the Mad Biologist

While I think Bernie Madoff is a real slimeball (what Jew steals from Elie Wiesel?), putting him in super-maximum security is ridiculous:

Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff is being held in a super-max wing of the Manhattan federal lockup – a unit so tough it drives hardened criminals mad, the Daily News has learned.

It’s known as 10 South.

Located on the 10th floor of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the high-security wing has housed the city’s toughest mobsters and most bloodthirsty terrorists.

John A. (Junior) Gotti was there, as well as his archrival, Michael (Mikey Scars) DiLeonardo.

On 10 South, the 70-year-old Madoff is treated more like a lab rat than a vaunted Wall Street financier once entrusted with billions of investment dollars.

The lights burn 24 hours a day, and an inmate’s every move is caught on video. Madoff gets just 60 minutes a day outside his 8-by-8-foot cell – in wrist shackles.

Windows are blacked out so disoriented inmates can’t catch even a glimpse of the world outside.

What passes for food is slipped through a narrow slit in a stainless steel door that fronts a spartan cell – cold in winter, scorching hot in summer.

No interaction is permitted between inmates or guards. Only a ranking officer is allowed to remove a prisoner from his tiny cell.

Lawyer visits are few and far between. Reading material is almost nonexistent.

“He might even be sharing a cell with somebody, because he’s a nonviolent prisoner,” said onetime guard Louis Pepe, who was stabbed by a 10 South inmate in 2000.

“Everybody is watching him extra close,” Pepe said.

The squalid conditions are enough to make blood-stained tough guys cry – never mind a pampered ex-billionaire.

Bonanno crime family capo Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano was moved off 10 South in 2005 after his lawyer complained of “subhuman” conditions.

Junior Gotti said his hard time in the MCC’s most infamous section was brutal.

“I was in 10 South, and it almost broke me,” Gotti famously roared.

Imagine its impact on a first-time offender used to a $7 million East Side penthouse with a bedroom drawer filled with cuff links and a $39,000 Steinway piano in the living room.

“I had a guy in there who went bonkers,” said one veteran defense lawyer. “They had to take him out of there and give him sedatives.”

Does anyone really think Madoff is going to shank someone? This is definitely cruel and unusal punishment.

Comments

  1. #1 Rob Jase
    March 27, 2009

    I suspect it may be for his protection. Some bozo is liable to think that if he nails Madoff the public will support his parole or something.

  2. #2 Edward
    March 27, 2009

    Does anyone deserve that sort of treatment? I think that putting someone in an environment like that constitutes torture, and even serial killers should be treated better than that. At the same time, I do think that Madoff is no better than a serial killer. In fact, he probably did more damage than a serial killer. Theft on that scale, particularly from charitable organizations, will result in deaths. So color me conflicted on this matter.

  3. #3 Kevin
    March 27, 2009

    Sorry, but I can’t muster up any sympathy here.

  4. #4 Daniel
    March 27, 2009

    I not only support this, but advocate them doing it for more white collar criminals. These guys are fully insulated from the real world, and don’t fear it at all. They know if they get caught they will go to a cozy minimum security prison and serve only a few months of their sentence. If you want the punishment to actually serve as a deterrent, you have to make them really sacred of what will happen. That means taking away the protection of their money and putting them in with the worst of the worst.

  5. #5 Art
    March 27, 2009

    Bernie has wrecked lives, families and, indirectly, entire communities. That he did it without physical violence or overt property destruction doesn’t change a thing.

    We shouldn’t have a parallel system of justice. In many ways we do. Poor people typically get rough handling and white collar criminals get poorly furnished country clubs.

    Is this a result of vindictiveness or an attempt to keep him protected? I don’t know but just because Bernie is used to a soft life shouldn’t entitle him to a soft confinement. If the law has determined that treatment in 10 South is not ‘cruel and unusual’ for some then it is not ‘cruel and unusual’ for anyone.

    I suspect that this may have something to do with Bernie and his family keeping much of their ill gotten gain hidden and their apparent plan to allow Bernie to take the fall while allowing the rest of the family to profit and live on entirely free of legal consequences relating to how they got their money. In essence the family is seeking to play the system. Keeping Bernie in 10 South is just a case of the system playing back. As long as it is all within bounds of a single standard definition of ‘cruel and unusual’ ,applicable to all, it is allowable.

    If and when he, or his family, come clean as to their entire scheme and relinquish their illegal gains I don’t have much sympathy. There are worse places. Prisons that are more violent than confining and slowly soul crushing. Places where Bernie would bleed and be passed around like a joint. Not that I would have much sympathy in that case either because other inmates, many of who are non-violent and in for drugs, live there 24/7. They get no special consideration. Neither should Bernie.

  6. #6 Dennis
    March 27, 2009

    You’re right, it’s cruel and unusual punishment. But it’s cruel and unusual for prisoners who aren’t white gazillionaires as well.

  7. #7 Doug Alder
    March 27, 2009

    The amount of sympathy I have for him is exactly zero. They could boil him alive in hot oil and I’d volunteer to light the fire. Frankly I’m surprised Joe and Jane Middle Class have not grabbed their guns, gone to Wall Street and gone “postal” on the top execs and politicians that caused this mess. It’s what they deserve, nothing less.

  8. #8 Pierce R. Butler
    March 28, 2009

    If Madoff is now enduring solitary confinement, I can only hope that will soon be relieved.

    Let’s provide Bernie some cellmates in 10 South – say, George and Dick and Donald.

  9. #9 Joshua Zelinsky
    March 28, 2009

    I agree with other commentators that this may be for his own protection. I also agree that it really doesn’t matter. What Madoff did is far more damaging than what almost any criminal ever has done. He’s managed to harm more people than most career criminals ever will. Let him rot.

  10. #10 Troublesome Frog
    March 28, 2009

    I suppose they could just set him free and let social forces take care of the issue, but that’s probably a bad precedent to set. I can think of three reasons to put somebody in solitary:

    1) Severe punishment
    2) Protection
    3) They’re a danger to guards / other inmates

    Reasons 1 and 2 clearly apply. If those are legally acceptable reasons, I don’t have a problem with it.

    Frankly, it almost makes sense to me that if you’re unlikely to live long enough to live out your sentence, one way of compensating for it is to make the quarters less pleasant to live in. As long as it’s not cruel and unusual for *somebody* to go to solitary, I don’t see why it would be cruel for somebody who commits a serious enough nonviolent crime.

  11. #11 llewelly
    March 28, 2009

    Intellectually, I’m skeptical of punitive approaches to crime. But emotionally, I’m a vengeful ape, and I want Madoff and others like him to suffer. I know, I know, I should not give in to such base emotions. But it’s very hard to not stand up and cheer at this news.

    In any case – while this may be cruel, much worse happens to lesser criminals all the time. The only thing unusual about this, is that a white collar criminal is being treated like, well, like a criminal, which doesn’t often happen. (This doesn’t justify the treatment of Madoff, but it would justify focusing on the plight of other prisoners.)

    Beyond that – some degree of security may be necessary to protect him, and harsh treatment may be necessary for the government to convince the people that government is doing something about these thieves. Keep in mind – if the economy keeps going the direction it is going, vigilante ‘justice’ may well emerge.

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