Ariel Castro’s Death: Good or Bad?

I was browsing through twitter and was stunned to see several posts on my news feed confirming the death of Ariel Castro. For those who do not know, he was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment plus a 1000 years for holding captive three young women and raping them.

AP_ariel_castro_court_jef_130703_16x9_992Image Courtesy: abcnews.go.com

At first, I thought good riddance. A convicted rapist is off the streets, for good this time. Then I thought, I wonder how the victims feel. Their ordeal lasted 10 years and his only a couple of months. In fact, the statement that Michelle Knight, one of the women he captured made in court echoed this sentiment completely. It said:

You said, at least I didn’t kill you. For you took 11 years of my life away, and I have got it back. I spent 11 years in hell, and now your hell is just beginning. I will overcome all this that happened, but you will face hell for eternity.

The death penalty would be so much easier. You don’t deserve that. You deserve to spend life in prison.

It made me wonder, did he not just take the easy way out? How can these three innocent victims ever get the justice they deserve now?

What are your views? Was Ariel Castro’s death good or bad?

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10 thoughts on “Ariel Castro’s Death: Good or Bad?

  1. I believe that when one says that Castro’s death was bad, they are of the belief that what Castro went through (his sentencing, his time in jail etc.) pales in comparison and does not justify what he put those three women through in the time he held them captive.

    Of course, it is rather easy to simply say that his death was bad, precisely because we live in a society today that has become less tolerant of the subjugation and objectification of women. Women today are more able to voice out against the deprecating actions of men against them, as compared to the social situation many decades ago. Therefore it becomes very easy for us to say that he deserved to live through his sentence, and that his death was ultimately unfair to these women.

    That being said, it is very difficult for me to decide whether or not it would have been better if he stayed alive – whether or not it would have been more fair to the three women if he was still alive today.

    It is pretty clear why one would believe that he shouldn’t have killed himself and that his death was bad, but it is much more difficult to argue for the other perspective. However, we must also not dismiss what he went through. Although he will never be able to live through the same intensity of suffering he put those women through, we cannot simply discount what he went through (having to accept his life imprisonment sentence, having to contemplate suicide, executing his plans etc.).

    It is clear that nothing can equal his actions, and is it difficult to justify that what he suffered or suffers can compare to what he inflicted upon those three women. Society and its laws are structured in such a way that we are punished for our sins, and by that logic, the consequences we suffer is naturally proportionate to what we commit. In this case, it is very difficult to apply that same reasoning. Whether or not life imprisonment does enough or did too much is a difficult question to answer.

    Perhaps the women will never receive the justice they deserve, perhaps they will receive some elusive sense of closure from his suicide, but at the end of the day I believe that no punishment would have been sufficient for him to repent his actions.

    I hope what I’ve written makes some sense to you!

    • I really do appreciate your comment and I agree it is always hard to decide whether someone’s death was ‘good’ or ‘bad’. In all honesty I don’t even believe we have the capacity to decide something like that.

      But I still believe in justice, not because it has proven to be consistent in the past, but more so because I have to. So many women are put through such horrendous ordeals and deserve some amount of compensation, closure, justice – however that is defined. Speedy convictions and harsh sentences are possibly the only little peace these victims can get, whether or not the criminal repents his actions. That’s why to me his suicide, was upsetting, to say the least.

  2. I think it is a mistake to equate deliverance or effectiveness of justice with the suffering of the perpetrator.

    • Out of curiosity, how would you define justice for the victims then?

      • I think a couple of parameters are important. Justice, in my opinion is done when firstly, the victim can return to her life and move on- this would entail adequate state compensation, counselling et cetera. Retributive catharsis does help victims to move on in some cases, but there are several better ways, and causing pain and suffering to a human being, even if they’re a heinous criminal, should be our very last resort.

        And Secondly, reformation of the perpetrator. I think prison systems in most countries are artefacts of a medieval time in which human dignity and social order weren’t necessarily the purpose of a justice system.

        A 6×8 jailcell will see a person will physically and mentally degrade, only to resent society and his victims more and more. I think its possible, through substantial psychological treatment and constructive skills training to reform anyone. That is a much more productive and humane way to deal with a human life.

  3. Wow – what a question! I don’t know if it can be framed as good or bad as such, but I agree with your idea Bianca – that his victims had years of suffering and he had a few mere months in comparison. I think that whenever anything like this happens, there never is justice as such…if they can go on to lead happy lives, that would be justice.

  4. Ashamedly, I have to admit that when I read your post title, my first thoughts were, ‘Ariel Castro? Who dat? Fidel Castro’s son??’. Silly me.

    About his punishment sentence, well, like you I tried to place myself in the victims’ shoes. Of course, having suffered for as long as they did, I would have wanted him to rot in a 6-by-8 cell for the remainder of his days. But, maybe this death sentence is better for the victims. Because they don’t have to wonder or worry about Castro. They don’t have to think about what he’s thinking, what if he got parole. Death has a way of bringing about absolute closure, or so I would like to believe.

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