The Story: Ariel Castro, the man who kidnapped and held three women for 10 years while he continually raped and otherwise tormented them, was found dead in his cell last night around 9:20 p.m.
Below you’ll find Thoughts on Liberty‘s writers various reactions to the story. Be sure to keep checking back throughout the day for more!
Thoughts on Liberty Reacts
Gina: I saw this story on my news feed this morning, and, honestly, my first reaction was, “Well, the world just got a little bit better.” I don’t really like that I thought that, as I try and consider all human life worth something, but there it is. Perhaps less mean, but equally true, is now taxpayer dollars won’t be spent to keep this person alive anymore. Hooray for that, I guess. Are we pretty sure it was suicide? I hear he was housed in protective custody.
Cathy: The argument has been made, though I can’t remember where, that prison exemplifies the futility of the state. In prison, all the freedom has been traded for all the security. And yet, people still kill themselves (or get killed and have their deaths ruled suicides), people still do drugs and have sex and barter via an informal economy. I’m angry. Not because I want Castro alive. Because we’ve given prisons the right to violate prisoners’ privacy completely, the right to determine every aspect of their days, the right to determine what and whether they eat, we’ve taken the right of protest from them, we’ve curtailed their freedom of speech. And yet, those same prisons with all those privileges cannot do the one job they’re supposed to do, which is keep a prisoner alive.
Rachel: What’s striking to me is that authorities repeatedly denied Castro access to a therapist. This man was clearly mentally ill (I think you would have to be to do what he did); it’s no surprise to me that he killed himself. The Castro case highlights once again that the prison and justice system provide little to no avenues for rehabilitation or to address the needs of their accused, as monstrous as they may be. I hope Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight can find peace.
Helen: I’m struggling to care very much about this, I must confess, but then I have (a) always been an advocate of harsh prison sentences for violent crime, although not the death penalty, and (b) have always accepted the ‘civic death’ model of imprisonment: criminals ought not only to lose their liberty, but also their right to vote and, inevitably, some measure of their dignity. When it comes to suicide, I hold to the standard lawyer’s view that people facing trial on extremely serious charges should be prevented in so far as possible from killing themselves so that they are obliged to stand trial. It’s better for the victims. When it comes to suicide qua suicide (as well as post-trial), I strongly suspect Hume was right, and that “no man ever threw away life, while it was worth keeping.”
Aunt Merryweather: This is more evidence in support of my sincerely-held belief that women are, in fact, the stronger sex. Three women were held in captivity for a decade and managed not to kill themselves (to say nothing of the repeated rapes and beatings they reportedly endured, plus the whole forced-pregancy/forced-miscarriage dealio). You’re telling me a big, bad man capable of unleashing that kind of hell on others has cracked after just a few weeks of protective custody? What a farce. Listen: Women are strong.
Lindsey: It doesn’t matter, on some level, if you think there are monsters within all of us or whether monsters are born that way—for these three ladies, the nightmare was very real and will likely continue in their minds forever. The question from a policy perspective is, Were the monsters that lived inside Castro’s head given the treatment they needed to protect other people from harm? The answer is most certainly, No. For me, this level of — let’s call it what it is—evil, is unthinkable. I don’t find myself transfixed by the details—I find myself turning away from the computer screen, looking elsewhere so I don’t have to think about the magnitude of 10 years of hell. Mostly, I find it disgusting that People.com had this under “Entertainment” news.