The other evening I was listening to the news while making dinner, and they had a bit about Bernie Madoff, the man who is a leading contender for Biggest Thief In The World, having stolen some
$50,000,000,000, much of it from charities and nonprofit organizations. They mentioned that he was under “House Arrest”; not allowed to leave his $7.4 million condo, not even to go to either
of his mansions in the US, let alone the one in Europe.
I will assume that he will be found guilty, as there is no possible doubt that what he did was illegal and that he knew it was illegal. His lawyers will undoubtedly point out that this is his
first offense, and that while he stole a lot of money he did it without violence, and most of the people managing the money he stole had a really good time. They may well argue that he isn’t a
threat to the community, and that it is a waste of prison space to lock him up.
I think that for Bernie and others who commit or knowingly benefit from “white collar” crimes or “non-violent” crimes like fraud, embezzlement, etc, there should be a new punishment more fitting
the circumstances. I propose Street Arrest.
When Bernie is found guilty he should be given $50, and taken to the Good Will or Salvation Army store. He can buy whatever he wants with that money, but when he checks out he will be stripped
to his underwear, so clothes would be a good choice. Then he will be fitted out with a locator anklet, and released to the street.
I am not suggesting anything Cruel and Unusual here. There is clearly nothing cruel; taking away people’s homes and making them live on the street is just part of doing business. And how
can it be unusual when so many people who have had their life savings destroyed wind up there?
I think Bernie should be on life-time parole, with nightly check-in; each night at a different homeless shelter, heat grate, or cardboard box. While clearly his current wealth should all go to
his victims, he should be allowed to earn as much by begging and washing windshields as he can. I’d even say he should be allowed to earn more by finding lost money. For every, say…,
million dollars of money that was “lost” that he finds and reports to the regulators, Bernie would get to keep $20.
I know that Bernie has a tendency to not follow the rules too closely, and he might be tempted to use some of that lost money for himself. I would propose that any time he gets close to a
police officer the locator anklet alarms, and the officer searches him. If Bernie is holding credit cards or suspiciously large amounts of cash or anything else the officer doesn’t think it
right, off he goes to jail, until it is sorted out. I think it would be fair that while he is in jail his fellow inmates get to help him find lost money, with them getting the reward.
I recognize that it can be lonely on the street, so I would propose that Bernie’ wife and sons, whose actions show that they knew what was going on, be allowed to join him.
For ground breaking cases like Bernie and his family, I think a web site and frequent pictures would help everyone stay informed of how the experience affects them. I think it would help
others in the banking and financial sectors stay focused on the importance things in life. And we would all be better for that.
© Copyright 2016 Mike Brennan. All rights reserved.