I’m sure you heard this week that Ariel Castro, the kidnapper, rapist and torturer of Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus, was found dead in his cell after an apparent suicide.
First off: I called it.
Now that it’s happened, I stand by what I said earlier. The justice system is not obligated to protect prisoners from themselves. And with that in mind, I think Castro’s suicide was the best thing that could have happened.
It has been widely argued that his killing himself was the final act of a massive control freak. Maybe so, but I don’t see anything wrong with that. He was long past any chance of making a positive contribution to society, he’d forfeited his freedom, and the rest of his natural life would’ve been nothing but decades of wasted food and oxygen. Now that he’s dead, the guards don’t have to deal with him, the other inmates don’t have to deal with him, and the state doesn’t have to provide for him.
I don’t know how Amanda, Michelle and Gina feel about him being dead, but I am sure that the quality of their lives do not depend on his staying alive to suffer through decades of imprisonment. No amount of suffering on his part would have given back any of the years he took from them.
Many have observed that he couldn’t take what he’d dished out. He kept his victims captive for a decade, but he couldn’t even live through a couple weeks of captivity himself. Honestly, I think that’s beside the point. He didn’t kidnap those girls because he thought they wouldn’t mind being held prisoner in his house. He kidnapped them because he was a consummate abuser. No one likes being held captive, and if he was in solitary confinement, then his existence was especially horrible. That he ended his existence is not a surprise.
Out of all the ways his story could have ended, suicide is the one that makes sense. I don’t agree with capital punishment; the state should not give itself the right to kill prisoners. There is no universe in which it would have been appropriate to let him go free, ever. Nothing would have been gained by making him endure decades of confinement. His life no longer belonged to him, but it’s okay that he owned his death. It was probably the most sensible decision he ever made.