Bernard Madoff Hires Help to Survive Hard Time, Find Best Jail


madoffBernard Madoff has hired a veteran prison consultant to help him to find the best possible jail in which to serve his 150-year sentence for Wall Street’s biggest fraud. After his sentencing this past week, Madoff, now Prisoner No 1727-054, met Herb Hoelter, of the National Centre for Institutions and Alternatives, whose previous clients include the jailed Sotheby’s chairman Alfred Taubman and the financiers Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky. =The draconian maximum sentence imposed by the judge means that Madoff, 71, will be assigned to a tougher category of prison than most white-collar criminals.

He could be forced to mingle with murderers, drug-dealers and white supremacist gangs with a hatred of Jews. Madoff is Jewish.

He could even find himself incarcerated with terrorists in the infamous “Supermax” jail in Florence, Colorado.

“He was incredibly disappointed. He knew he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison. I don’t think that was ever an issue,” Hoelter told The Times. “But it’s patently unfair to cast him as a symbol of all evil.”

Federal convicts are assigned to minimum, low, medium, high-security prison, or even the sole Supermax facility, by the US Bureau of Prisons using a score-card known as Form BP-337 to calculate an inmate’s “Security Point Total”. A first-time non-violent white-collar criminal convicted in a US federal court would normally qualify for incarceration at a minimum-security “prison camp” with easygoing rules and no perimeter fence. But the length of Madoff’s jail term means that he has no hope at all of going to one of them.

“Independent of the length of his sentence, he would score out as a minimum-security inmate,” said Hoelter. “But because of the length of his sentence, they apply a ‘public safety factor’ and would never put him in a minimum security facility.”

Madoff’s lawyer asked the judge to recommend that he should serve his term in the medium-security Otisville Correctional Institute, 70 miles from New York, which has an unusually large Jewish inmate population. The judge refused.

A sentence above 30 years usually places an inmate in a high-security category, meaning that Madoff would be assigned to a prison housing violent offenders including murderers and rapists. Ed Bales, of Federal Prison Consultants, which is not involved in the case, said that Madoff was likely to be held in isolation, known as “the hole”, at least at first.

“He could cause a lot of problems because it’s a very high-profile case. People may react very badly to him,” Bales said. “He is going to have white supremacists who do not like the Jewish population. He has got some enemies he is going to have to face.” It is even possible that Madoff could be upgraded for his own safety to the only Supermax facility, where inmates are locked up for 23 hours a day and never get to mix with the general prison population.

John Webster, of National Prison and Sentencing Consultants, said: “Next to being a sex offender, people who are perceived as stealing from the elderly are not perceived as very popular folk in prison. Everyone has a mother. I think there is going to be some form of retaliation.”

Webster, a lawyer who once served a 13-month sentence for lying to investigators, said that white-collar criminals often struggled to adapt to jail. “I have a former client who is a judge,” he said.

“The first time he was brought to an isolation unit in handcuffs, he said to the guard, ‘Would you get me a coffee?’. That was a guy who did not realise where he was yet.” Hoelter says that Madoff can at least look forward to moving from the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in Manhattan, where he has been held since pleading guilty in March.

The centre is a maximum-security prison. “He has been incarcerated under very difficult conditions in these past months. Anywhere he goes is likely to be better than where he is now, unless they throw him into the Supermax,” he said. “He will be able to get exercise. He will be able to do something that makes him productive. He may be able to tutor other inmates.”

{Fox News/Times Online/Elisha Newscenter}