Should Bernard Madoff and Leslie Van Houten Be Set Free?

Should Bernard Madoff and Leslie Van Houten Be Set Free? February 10, 2020
Bernie Madoff. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, United States Department of Justice, Public Domain

 

Bernie Madoff, creator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in American history, is asking for an early release from prison.

The reason?

His doctors say that he will be dead in 18 months.

According to a story in The Washington Post, Madoff is “is in the end stages of kidney disease, must use a wheelchair and is in need of round-the-clock care.” Madoff’s attorneys are advancing the argument that keeping Madoff in prison would not bring back the money he stole from his investors.

Meanwhile, Leslie Van Houten, one of the Charles Manson cult who committed murders decades ago, has become something of a cause among trendy weak-brains. Ms van Houten has actually been paroled several times, but in each case, the California governor overrode the parole board’s decision and kept her in prison.

Should Leslie van Houten be paroled? Should Bernard Madoff be sent home to die? Personally, I think both these people belong where they are and should stay there.

Madoff’s attorney have argued that keeping Madoff in prison will not bring his victim’s money back. This is spurious at best. The same argument could be used to justify the release of any criminal whatsoever. Imprisonment does not unrape the raped, unmurder the murdered, unsteal the thefts.

That does not mean that we should open the prison doors and let everybody out. Keeping people in prison maintains the public safety in more ways than just removing dangerous criminals from the streets. It also preserves, protects and defends a key component of any stable government, which is the rule of law.

The only alternative to the death penalty for the crime of murder is a life sentence that means something. If people can commit crimes as terrible as those of Leslie Van Houten and then walk free, if we can’t trust our justice system to keep those who do things like what she did locked up for life, then the death penalty becomes a necessity.

Life without parole that means what it says is the way out of the necessity of using the death penalty. It is absolutely essential that the public understands and believes that murderers forfeit their own lives. It is necessary if we want to maintain public safety.

I oppose the death penalty. But if we can not keep murderers off the streets by imprisonment, then I would — very reluctantly — have to admit that we have no alternative but to execute them.

Supporters of Ms Van Houten have engaged in what appears to be a facile attempt to set aside the two jury verdicts convicting her. Their reasons for working for her freedom are based largely on gossipy and unproven claims that the people she, by her own admission, stabbed over and over again in a murderous frenzy, were already dead.

This is a direct attempt to justify setting aside her sentence by setting aside her conviction. Her supporters use one-sided bits of what amounts to little more than gossip to justify their position. They are trying to re-try her trials without the necessity of presenting legitimate evidence, cross examining witnesses, or having a jury sit in judgement.

Leslie Van Houten was found guilty by two different juries. She was originally sentenced to death. She should live out her days and die in prison.

Bernard Madoff may be terminally ill. But that does not change the gravity of his crime or the will of the court that sentenced him. The argument that his victims will still be victimized, whether he’s in prison or not, is specious.

Both these people are where they need to be.

 


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