A federal judge sentenced Bernard Madoff, the convicted mastermind of the largest and most sweeping Ponzi scheme ever, to the maximum sentence of 150 years in federal court Monday.
Judge Denny Chin of U.S. District Court in New York announced the sentence just moments after Madoff apologized to his victims.
Chin, who called Madoff's crimes "extraordinarily evil," said the maximum sentence was important for deterrence, and also for the victims, many of whom erupted into applause after the judge announced the sentence. Many hugged and some of them broke down in tears.
A few months ago we discussed the most enjoyable New York Times article by Ralph Blumenthal in which he suggested Madoff should receive the Dante treatment: every punishment matches the crime. Apparently the courts heard that message, at least in the sense that an excessive crime receives an excessive punishment.
What do you think? Is this kind of sentence a deterrent? Do you sense an element of vengeance in the reaction of the victims? What do you think about my theory that white collar criminals should not spend time in prison? For me, prison is to prevent violent criminals from continuing to harm others. Wouldn't heavy fines and government supervision accomplish that in Madoff's case?
What's your opinion?