Madoff entered the courtroom minutes before the hearing began with his head held low. As his victims spoke, he looked down at his hands the entire time, never once meeting their stares.
Madoff said his wife Ruth cries herself to sleep every night "thinking of the pain I caused."
Before reading his sentencing, Judge Chinn said that none of Madoff's friends or family sent letters attesting to his character.
The judge said Madoff should be designated to an "appropriate facility" in the northeast region. He told Madoff he had the right to appeal but must do so within 10 days. The court would appoint him a lawyer, the judge said, if he could not afford one.
Outside the courthouse, advocacy groups such as the Madoff Survivors and Victims Coalition promoted their causes. The Coalition is calling on Congress to develop legislation that addresses losses due to fraud, for Bankruptcy Court to recover and quickly distribute assets to investors and for the IRS to extend the number of years for filing amended taxes as a result of fraud.
Self-described civil rights activist and comedian Randy Credico called for clemency for Madoff outside the courthouse, passing out flyers that read "Clemency for the Ponzi One." Credico said Madoff should not be sent to prison because he is a first time non-violent offender.
Also handed out outside was the "Bernie Madoff Edition" of Andy Borowitz's book, "Who Moved My Soap? The CEO's Guide to Surviving in Prison." The cover featured a picture of Madoff with bars superimposed over his face and proclamations that the book is "made from 100% shredded paper," "compact design survives most strip searches" and "can also be used as a weapon!"
Ayana Harris contributed to this report.