I have been somewhat shocked by the recent Madoff ruling on two fronts. Firstly, according to some sources the average incarceration for murder convictions in the US is around 22 years. Are we saying that Madoff’s behaviour is seven times as evil? And secondly, does the US really need to pass ridiculously long sentences that don’t even reflect reality (do many 71 year old men live another 150 years?……Yes quite).
By no means am I saying that Madoff doesn’t deserve to be punished for his crimes. He has ruined the lives of many people who had faith in his investment strategies and who had trusted him with their life savings. But to put him in the same or worse bracket as a murderer is disproportionate to his crime.
The US courts are fond of handing out harsh sentences and Madoff’s sentence is not the longest for a white collar criminal. This was awarded to Sholam_Weiss who was sentenced in Feb 2000 to 845 years in prison for his plot to defraud an insurance company costing many of its 25,000 customers their life savings. Does that not seem a little extreme? Clearly there is no chance in hell these men will get out of jail alive. It’s one thing to advocate life to mean life for murder sentences, but shouldn’t the same apply for financial crimes?