Reaction to Castro’s death

COMMENTARY BY:
ERIN MCCORMICK

It is a strange thing when someone dies. Generally, people mourn and find themselves saddened or depressed.

That is not always the case, though.

Ariel Castro hanged himself in his Ohio prison cell using a bed sheet Sept. 3. His death came nearly 30 days after he was sentenced to life in prison plus an additional 1,000 years for his 10-year hostage-keeping of Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus. Castro kept them in his basement in Cleveland, where he sexually assaulted and tortured them, and even impregnated Berry.

Suicides in jails and prisons are not exactly common, but they are not rare either.

According to the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, in county jails, 38 out of every 100,000 inmates kill themselves. This is three times the rate of suicides among the general United States population. 93 percent of these deaths in jails are by hanging, like Castro’s. Most jails and prisons have some kind of suicide watch and preventive measure programs in place. In Castro’s case, he had previously been on suicide watch, but had been taken off of it in June.

Ariel Castro committed evil acts and was obviously not of a healthy mental state. And there are many, many people who wanted him dead. They received their wish.

Reactions such as “Let the monster burn in hell” and “Saves the taxpayers some money” were strewn across online message boards and comment sections all of last week. It is hard not to react this way when someone who committed crimes so evil, subhuman even, decided he did not want to belong to this world anymore.

Whether or not you believe it is acceptable to react this way to the death of a murderer, rapist or, in this case, a sadistic kidnapper, some undeniable facts remain. Castro was undoubtedly a human being, albeit one with a very different mind from you or I. Yes, he was in fact human, not a “monster,” as some claim. He was likely mentally ill and obviously did not receive any treatment for his condition. Such things seem to evade people’s minds. If we are to be good people in full awareness of our consciences, we have to step back and avoid the temptation to say things that suggest a rejoicing in the death of Castro, or any other inmate for that matter. Mourning probably is not appropriate, but to revel in the death of any person — evil, good or somewhere in-between — shows a lack of human empathy that mirrors that of the “monsters” themselves.

Contact the writer: erin.mccormick@scranton.edu

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