Headline of the Day

The Headline of the Day comes from the Drudge Report: Madoff in Hell.

Undoubtedly, wishing eternal misery upon such as Bernie Madoff is where the notion of justice in the next life comes from, since it so often skips this life. In the case of Madoff, specifically, his crimes were found out and he lived the last 12-years of his life, and then died, as he deserved: In the federal prison at Butner, North Carolina.

As it happens, I live about 30-miles from the prison and occasionally drive through Butner. It’s a bleak place — it looks like the kind of place where something bad happens. How else could it be? The prison is the big employer there and, as you’d expect, its unavoidable squalor shapes the culture of the community around it. I don’t doubt that Butner’s inmates long to be someplace else — but it isn’t the view of the surrounding town that accounts for the longing.

Once upon a time, Butner was just another dinky farming village, notable for nothing. Then came World War II — and some enterprising Congressman got an ARMY-managed POW camp built there, work for a barren, long-suffering rural backwater hit hard by depression and then war. After the war, it was almost trivial to convert the facility for warehousing mostly white-collar, mostly non-violent criminals, and so it was. In the intervening years, Butner has hosted a regular Who’s Who of criminal luminaries: Bernie Madoff, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., Carmine Persico, John Walker, Jonathan Pollard.

I’ve occasionally thought through the years that I ought to go out there and stroll the cemetery and photograph the headstones with names that practically everybody would recognize. I may yet.

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