Prison guards found convicted kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro dead in his prison cell Tuesday night:
Medical officials tried to revive the 53-year-old former school bus driver after he was discovered around 9:20 p.m. CT Tuesday at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio, authorities said.
Castro was transported to Ohio State University Medical Center in nearby Columbus but was pronounced dead at 10.52 p.m.
Authorities said a “thorough review of this incident is under way.” Franklin County Coroner Jan Gorniak said the cause of death was suicide by hanging, and said his injuries were consistent with using a bedsheet.
Castro had been housed in protective custody, which means he was in a cell by himself. Guards were making rounds every 30 minutes at staggered intervals, according to the Ohio Bureau of Prisons.
According to live news reports, Castro’s family learned of his death via the news, not from prison officials. Castro’s attorney claims that prison officials denied his client psychological help:
“We requested the opportunity for our retained independent psychologist to see and evaluate Mr. Castro in both the county jail and in the prison reception center, where he was being held. We were denied and thwarted in each of our attempts by the state and county,” defense attorney Jaye Schlachet told Reuters.
“Alleged suicide, right?” defense lawyer Jaye Schlachet told the Daily News early Wednesday.
Schlachet said state prison officials hadn’t told him anything about his client’s grim fate and couldn’t say for certain whether Castro offed himself.
“I don’t deal with speculation,” he said.
Schlachet’s suspicion seems warranted given the circumstances, although Castro did write and save a suicide note prior to his arrest. Police discovered it as they searched Castro’s home.
Few people will take issue with Castro’s death. His actions against his victims were horrific, and it is understandable that many people will welcome his suicide. However, I agree with Castro’s attorneys. Castro was a human being, and despite his cruelty towards his victims, there was no reason not to help him. Had he turned away the help, that would be one thing. However, it appears that the prison authorities made no effort to give Castro any treatment.
It is possible that he had been threatened. It is also possible that he felt he had nothing left to live for. Once a person is in state custody, the state has a responsibility to protect that person from harm, whether from others or themselves. The state failed to do this, and no matter how little people care about Castro, that factor should worry them because it is possible that prison official do this with other inmates.
As for how this affects Castro’s victims, some have already decided that:
Kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro’s apparent prison suicide may deprive his victims of a vital sense that justice has been done, a leading psychologist said Wednesday.
“Going forward now these girls are going to have to find a way of healing without a sense of justice,” said Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, a U.K.-based psychologist and author. “We want the sense of justice when we heal. Sometimes we have to heal without it, and sadly that is what they will have to do.”
She added: “He decided his fate, something they were never ever ever able to do for themselves. He had ultimate control. To some extent this was in a way his last slap to their faces — ‘I’ve got this over you’.”
What Papadopoulos describes is revenge, not justice. Justice was served. Castro was caught, arrested, charged, and sentenced. He was sentenced essentially to death (life plus one thousand years), and now he is dead.
I understand the desire to return the favor to one’s abusers. I understand the desire to make them feel one’s pain, experience every nuance of it, every memory, every fear, every nightmare.
However, doing that is no different than doing what Castro did. I know that sounds horrible, but I think it is true. We have no idea what Castro suffered in his life. We have no idea how he reached a point where he could commit such cruelty against others. It may be that he suffered the same violence that he inflicted on his victims or worse. If true, the desire for revenge proves moot. He already experienced every hurt one could want to do to him.
The other reason not to seek revenge is that it will never be enough. There is no amount of suffering that Castro could have experienced that would likely have satisfied his victims. It could go on indefinitely, and that still might not be enough.
We need to move pass this kind of thinking. That is not easy to do. It would be a lie to say that I do not ever want those who hurt me to suffer as I did, even though I know that some of them, like my father and uncles, suffered worse than I did. That is a normal human response.
It is simply that I needed to learn to move past the desire for revenge in order to move past the abuse. I could not begin to heal if I held onto those feelings. That process takes time, and there is no reason for Castro’s victims to rush themselves through it as long as they are not they are hurting others as a result of those feelings. Let them deal with this on their own schedule.