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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The victims speak ... even in white-collar crimes

Madoff

The Wall Street Journal points out an interesting fact about yesterday's sentencing of Bernard Madoff: Until a few years ago, victims of nonviolent crimes didn't have the right to address the court during sentencing.

Victim-impact statements are standard in cases involving murders and violent crime. But it took the 2004 Crimes Victims Rights Act to extend that to people who were victims of, say, billion-dollar Ponzi schemes. The WSJ says that Madoff's victims -- and their statements -- played a big part in getting him 150 years instead of a lighter sentence.

If you haven't already, be sure to read what the victims had to say. Many of Madoff's investors were high-rollers, but some were folks of relatively modest means. The fraud has completely ruined some of them. One woman says she's been forced to scavenge from Dumpsters after her food stamps run out.

In this courtroom sketch, Bernard Madoff, center, is seated in front of some of his victims that spoke during his sentencing in Manhattan federal court in New York, Monday, June 29, 2009. (AP Photo/Christine Cornell)

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