It his however possible to treat the criminal with fairness. Otherwise we lower ourselves to their level- exploiting the weak for personal gratification. It made a lot of people feel good to see Rothstein get 50. That doesn't make it right.
I agree Bernie Madoff needs to be in prison for the rest of his life. His crimes truly destroyed families who placed their trust and life savings in his care. Not so with Rothstein. Rothstein's money mostly came from Hedge Funds- although I agree he did screw up one lawsuit for which he used forged judicial orders to cover his tracks. But does that merit 50 years? A famous football player killed someone in Miami Beach recently with his car and received 30 days. Rothstein did not physically kill or injure anyone. Most of the loss was from professional investors who were either greedy, didn't do their due diligence or were part of the scam. There were others who were personally hurt. A 25 year sentence would have been sufficient punishment in those cases.
We sentence people to terms of years as if they don't really mean anything. Life in prison is hard, difficult, cruel, and in many places in the US, inhumane. Female prisoners who had open cases were being raped and sexually abused at the federal holding facility in Miami. Those responsible for those crimes deserve 50 years. And we all know that type of abuse is the tip of the iceberg for what occurs in our prisons. And for that we all bear the responsibility of turning a blind eye to the outrageous abuses in our penal system. You spend one day in prison and then let me know how easy it is.
All my critics can say in response (mostly) is that Rothstein is a jerk or a pig and got what was coming to him. No- he got more than what was coming to him. If he received 25 years in 1985 and got out today would that really and truly be an injustice? Do you think he would just saunter out of prison having lost a quarter of a century of his life with a smile on his face thinking it was all worth it?
Miami Judge Harvey Shenberg sold for $50,000 cash what he thought was the name of an informant who was going to be killed, and he got less than 20 years. Which crime more tarnished our profession?
Miami Judge Roy Gelber was selling appointments as fast as he could. He cooperated and got less than ten. It was an odious sentence and Gelber deserved much more. But he was rewarded for his cooperation. The system worked.
Other countries recognize the terrible impact a prison sentence has on someone. Their sentences are rational and reasonable. Ours are neither.
It's easy to trash Scott Rothstein and throw away the key. It's harder to look in the mirror and ask what are we doing to people in our justice system. It's the cases like the one Judge Weinstein had or the Rothstein case that helps us examine our morals and calibrate what justice really is.
Rothstein got slammed. It makes us feel good for the moment.
Justice was not done in that Ft. Lauderdale courtroom the other day, and there is a price to pay for that.