Ariel Castro, the man who kidnapped three women and for ten years tortured them, starved them, beat them, sexually assaulted them, kept them in dungeon-like conditions, fathered children, killed an unborn child, and plead guilty to 937 offenses was found hanged in his cell in a prison processing facility in Columbus, Ohio last night. Does anyone care? Are you happy? Did the justice system work for his victims?
While his lawyer now claims that the denial of a personal psychologist somehow contributed to his client's death, those who have followed this story can sit back and rejoice that the man who committed some of the most heinous and most atrocious crimes in the history of mankind is dead. Right? If there is a hell, Ariel Castro should be welcomed by the devil's open arms, correct? It wouldn't be a stretch to call this guy the valedictorian of hell's 2013 graduating class.
Ariel Castro in court (Chicago Tribune)
Here he is, the man who most everyone would say "deserved to die" for what he put these women and their families through, and who plead guilty to avoid the possibility of a death sentence, is now dead. Instead of taking his chances at trial, Castro was sentenced on Aug. 1 to life plus 1,000 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
There are some rumblings that Castro may have received assistance to kill himself and that the Ohio prison was negligent in even permitting a suicide to occur when a prisoner is in protective custody. Does that matter? He's dead now and isn't that what everyone wanted. Remember Jeffrey Dahmer? He was killed by his fellow prisoners and I don't recall too much outcry following his murder.
Whether you agree or disagree with the death penalty, the Ariel Castro case is an interesting study. Here is someone who, given the facts and evidence, should not be allowed to exist in civilized society. In simple terms, those who advocate against the death penalty argue that government should not in the business of killing people. Rather, government should house, feed, treat, and ultimately rehabilitate those who can re-enter society. And, there are those cases, albeit few, where someone sentenced to death is found to have been wrongly convicted.
Others suggest that the same government should not be in the business of housing and caring for individuals, like Castro, whose crimes are barely speakable. The death penalty should remain, it is argued, as an option for the most vile of the vile.
Theoretically, solace comes from the fact that, in lieu of the death penalty, the victims of the unspeakable crimes can take comfort that the offender will spend the rest of his life behind bars - without the benefits of freedom.
In the case of Ariel Castro, now you have neither. The blood-lust satisfaction/deserved punishment of a man being put to death for the pain and suffering he caused others was an option that was eliminated in favor of the "life in prison with no chance of parole" solution. The "I'll take what I can get"/let him rot in prison for his crimes punishment is eliminated as well due to Castro's apparent choice to end his own suffering at an early stage.
So, what's left. For his victims, one can assume that they are left with lifelong pain, anger and despair and, I would venture to say, a feeling that punishment was never achieved. For a society that attempts to link incarceration with rehabilitation, we are left with nothing. A criminal has gone largely unpunished and the justice system worked better for Ariel Castro than it did for society itself.
Ariel Castro's "life in prison" was the length that Ariel Castro chose it to be. It was not the length of time that "Justice" deemed it nor how long those who are charged to protect us from monsters like him thought it should be.
Sometimes there simply is no justice and we just have to keep trudging on.
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