For reasons best left to the imagination, Investigation Discovery still offers programming about Bernie Madoff. Bernie will be 221 years old when he gets out of jail. That seems a tad unfair, since Charles Ponzi, the originator of the scheme Bernie perfected, only spent 12 years behind bars.
With 145 years left on his sentence, it’s hard to imagine what Bernie’s going to do while he’s in there, let alone what he’ll do when he gets out. Ronald Reagan was 70 when he was shot by John Hinckley. Reagan is reputed to have put three inches of muscle on his chest from the weight-training he undertook during his recuperation. I don’t picture Bernie as an iron-pumper.
Other inmates developed hobbies while in prison. Robert Stroud raised canaries and became a published author. He even got Burt Lancaster to play him as a sympathetic character. Jack Henry Abbot also became a published author and was released from prison with the help of keen judges of character like Norman Mailer. And Gary Gilmore made a jailhouse avocation out of trying to get himself killed, which worked out quite nicely, thank you.
Given the strict guard under which Gary Ridgeway is kept, he’s become adept at life-skills such as breathing, pacing, eating, and doing a few sit-ups and push-ups in his 81-square foot luxury condo. Dennis Rader, who’s enjoying his own 80-square-foot bachelor pad, is proficient at spending his one hour of free time a day outside, shackled inside a ten-by-ten-foot pen.
David Berkowitz converted Christianity, which came in handy for exorcising the demons that possessed his neighbor’s dog and commanded David to kill. And Charlie Manson found considerably more time to devote to the music career on which he’d been working before he changed his major to Homicidally Professional Lunacy.
But Bernie’s not likely to be quite as adaptable and resourceful as those guys. He’s been refining his craft since he founded his Wall Street firm in 1960. And swindling is the only thing that’s ever really given him any sense of fulfillment.
Bernie’s probably going to be a little frail when he gets out. He might not be as steady afoot or as strong of back as he was when he was hefting $65 billion as if it were weightless. I’m not saying we have to give him a job or anything, especially having to do with cash, currency, stocks, bonds, or legal tender of any sort. I’m just saying we shouldn’t carry grudges for 150 years.
After all, since’s he’s borrowing time from himself, Bernie’s life is now a chronological Ponzi Scheme.
— Photo of Charles Ponzi by Boston Library [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.