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Articles by Professor Douglas A. Berman

Spirited (But Problematic?) Advocacy for Bernie Madoff to Receive Compassionate Relief

by Professor Douglas A. Berman, Sentencing Law and Policy blog (

The New York Times has this notable new opinion piece authored by headlined "Let Bernie Madoff, and Many More, Out of Prison: Compassionate release has to apply to unsympathetic prisoners, if we mean what we say about ending mass incarceration."  I think the spirit of this piece is quite sound, but I am not entirely sold on all of its particulars.  Here are excerpts (with a few lines emphasized for comments to follow):

“Recently, Mr. Madoff re-entered the news, as he filed for compassionate release from federal prison. He is entering the final stages of kidney disease and has less than 18 months to live. The Bureau of Prisons denied his petition, as it does to 94 percent of those filed by incarcerated people. But the reforms provided in the First Step Act of 2018 allow him to file an appeal with the sentencing court.

Even some who claim to detest the ravages of mass incarceration argue that Mr. Madoff should be denied compassionate release. He is as close to the financial equivalent of a serial killer as one might encounter. Still, there is a good ...

Another notable (but ultimately disappointing) ruling about sentence reductions under § 3582(c)(1)(A) after FIRST STEP Act

by Professor Douglas A. Berman, Sentencing Law and Policy blog (

As regular readers know, in prior posts I have made much of a key provision of the FIRST STEP Act which now allows federal courts to directly reduce sentences under the (so-called compassionate release) statutory provisions of ...



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