2009 | Butner Prison, NC

Second Acts

Bernie Madoff settles into prison life.

Dear Stephanie, 

Thank you for your lovely letter. It meant so much to me, hearing about what is going on with the children and Mark. I’m so happy to hear that he enjoys Nantucket and has had some good days among all the bad days. I love my sons more than life itself and live in constant torment with the pain I have inflicted on them. They helped me build a wonderful firm, which had nothing to do with the fraud I committed and they should be proud of that. In time I will be able to tell my story as to how and why this problem occurred and hopefully it will put a different light on things. All of the conjecture and government theories are just that, theories and not fact. 

As for how I am doing here, I am doing okay. I am lucky to have been sent to Butner, which is considered to be the best and most laid-back prison in the U.S. It has the look and feel of a college campus with lovely lawns and trees. I live in a dorm with twenty-four other guys with plenty of privacy. I can come and go pretty much as I please with no lockups. Everyone treats me with respect and great friendship. As you can imagine I am quite the celebrity and am treated like a Mafia don. They call me either Uncle Bernie or Mr. Madoff. I can’t walk anywhere without someone shouting their greetings and encouragement to keep my spirits up. It’s really quite sweet how concerned everyone is about my well-being, including the staff. It is perfectly safe with no fights and I have never experienced a stabbing in spite of how the media has reported it. It’s much safer here than walking the streets of New York.

They have plenty of recreation here, two baseball fields, volleyball, handball and racquet ball, bocce, horseshoes, outdoor and indoor basketball courts, twelve pool tables, pottery and art classes, etc. I have been asked to teach a business class once I get settled in. 

I love you all so much.


Bernie Madoff

From a letter to his daughter-in-law. Madoff’s sons, Mark (who was married to Stephanie) and Andrew, both of whom turned their father over to U.S. authorities in 2008 after he told them the extent of his crimes, are now deceased: Mark committed suicide on the second anniversary of his father’s arrest and Andrew died of cancer in 2014. Madoff is currently serving a 150-year prison sentence for operating the world’s largest Ponzi scheme, fleecing his investors of as much as $65 billion. Omar Abdel-Rahman, who helped plot the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, is also in Butner.