The Wall Street fraud who scammed investors out of $64 billion will be sentenced in June. Bernard Madoff could receive as much as 150-years behind bars. For the 70-year-old felon, even a fraction of the maximum term will most likely mean he'll die in prison.
But where will he do the time? The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) lists five classifications of security for institutional placement: minimum, low, medium, and high. The latter, high, are also known as United States Penitentiaries.
There are also "administrative facilities," where services run the gamut from detaining pretrial offenders and convicts with medical problems, to housing the most violent inmates in locations called 'administration-maximum penitentiaries' – also known as 'SuperMax.'
In deciding Madoff's future home, multiple factors will be considered, and the BOP uses a point system to determine where offenders will be confined. Ed Bales, managing director of Federal Prison Consultants, says the points are based on several variables such as the length of the sentence and the nature of the crime. The more points an inmate has, the greater the chance he or she will be sent to a higher security prison.
If Madoff ends up in a medium or maximum security facility, he'll be joining rapists, murderers and other violent offenders. "They'll think nothing of killing him if they don't like him," Bales warns. "He may be marked."
That's why Madoff may first be placed in a segregated unit. As much as he is despised, the BOP will be looking out for Madoff's safety. "They're trying to protect him, they just don't know how the general population will react to Bernie Madoff," says Bales.
What advice does Bales have for this infamous swindler? "I would tell him to keep himself as active as possible but keep himself out of the spotlight," he says. Bales suggests Madoff enroll, if allowed, in classes and programs, to keep his mind occupied.
But ultimately, Bales, who assists individuals in prison placement designations, predicts a very bleak and unhappy future for perhaps the most hated man in the country right now, saying, "Personally, I guess if I were Madoff, I would rather be dead than go through the regiment he is going to have go through for the rest of his life."
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with