jessica tholmer
September 05, 2013 10:00 am

Last month, Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years after pleading guilty to 937 different counts, namely kidnapping and rape. Between 2002 and 2004, Castro had kidnapped three women–Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus–and held them in his home in Cleveland, Ohio. For about a decade, Castro brutally raped and beat the three women. Castro also deprived the women bathroom facilities, and he starved them.

Berry has a 6-year-old daughter, fathered by Castro who was also kept imprisoned by him.

The women finally escaped in May, and Castro was sentenced last month. On Tuesday night however, Castro was found hanging from a bedsheet in his prison cell; an apparent suicide. The prison officials state that Castro was not on suicide watch, otherwise he would have been under constant supervision. His cell was regulated every thirty minutes however, and he was being held in isolation for his own safety…likely because other inmates would have no hesitation in treating Castro as he insisted on treating those poor women.

There has been clear outrage since Castro’s suicide announcement yesterday. I have heard both relief and irritation. This situation calls for a conversation about crime versus punishment. To be honest, I am not entirely sure how I feel about Castro’s death.

Whether or not you believe in capital punishment, it is consistently disappointing when a monster of a man like Castro ends up choosing his own fate. He barely made it one month in prison, where he was assumedly treated much better than the women he imprisoned. Castro assuredly was eating three meals a day, had the ability to use a restroom, and though I shouldn’t make this claim indefinitely, I am positive he was not being beaten or raped in the way he chose to beat and rape the innocentyoung women he kidnapped. Granted we obviously will never know if he killed himself because of remorse or inability to cope with his new lifestyle, he still chose his own fate in the end.

Those who do believe in capital punishment were rooting for Castro to be killed anyway–since he did it himself, it saves “us” money on his cost of living. I know it is a callous argument, but we are speaking of a very callous man.

That all being said, when speaking of a human life, emotions run high. What this all boils down to in my mind is: was justice served? Castro assumedly would have liked to get away with his horrific acts of disgusting and inhumane mistreatment of three women and a young girl, and some people view the taking of his own life as an unfair escape. Was justice still served if Castro did not have to live the rest of his life–and at 53, he had a whole lot of years left in him–in a prison cell? Does justice ever involve killing another person? Was his punishment worthy of his crime?

I know this is an incredibly sad, scary, and emotional story. It is always hard for me to acknowledge that we have humans like this in our world. Thank you for the willingness to converse about it.

Featured image via nydailynews.com.

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