By Hon. Steven Rhodes
I confess. I was the one. In The Ponzi Scheme Blog DECEMBER POLL, I cast the sole vote that prison sentences for Ponzi scheme perpetrators are too long.
After spending two years co-writing The Ponzi Book with Kathy Phelps, I certainly understand the social, emotional, and financial devastation that Ponzi schemes cause, as well as the outrage that victims so justifiably feel. As Kathy has well-chronicled in this blog, the numbers are staggering – the numbers of newly-exposed schemes, the numbers of defrauded victims, and the numbers of dollars lost.
Still, longer sentences are not the answer. They accomplish nothing and are very expensive. Worse, they are unjust.
Let’s consider the expense first. Our country has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world’s prison population. We have 2,240,000 people behind bars.
Here are the yearly costs per inmate for some sample states:
- California - $47,000
- Florida - $28,000
- Illinois - $38,000
- Michigan - $28,000
- New Jersey - $55,000
- New York - $60,000
- Wisconsin - $38,000
The yearly cost per inmate in the federal prison system is $30,000.