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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ten hours after Ohio prison staff found Ariel Castro dead in his cell, Pam Zander Turos was standing in her kitchen in a Cleveland suburb. She was spreading cream cheese on bagels for her two young sons, when the TV came to life in the living room.

Instead of the usual cartoon sounds, she heard a Cleveland newscaster’s voice. She dropped the knife and raced to shut off the TV.

Too late.

“Mom,” her 10-year-old son said, “he killed himself last night.”

“Do you know who he is?” she asked.

“I know the kids at school said he kept those three girls in his home for 10 years,” he said. “And that he tortured them.”

What he didn’t say but what she feared he was thinking: Just like that boy who killed himself last week.

Only days earlier, the Turos family had talked about 15-year-old Bart Palosz, who killed himself after relentless bullying from classmates at Greenwich High School in Connecticut. Turos is a social worker, and she tried to steer that family discussion to the issues of bullying and suicide prevention.

“There is nothing you could do to make me think your life has no value,” she told her son.

On Wednesday morning, there was no time for such a thoughtful conversation about Castro’s death. Her boys had to leave for school in 20 minutes, but her elder son was full of questions.

“They checked on him every 30 minutes,” he said. “And in that short time, he killed himself?”

“We’ll talk about this when you get home,” she told him.

“I could not find my words,” she told me later in the morning. “Everything those children hear, they internalize. I just wonder what their minds are doing with this information.”

It’s a question we all should be asking ourselves, particularly if we’re willing to cheer the suicide of Ariel Castro. Celebrations erupted on social media and in the comments threads of news sites. As if Castro’s death rids us of what created him. As if the circumstances that made it possible for him to hold those three young women captive in the same neighborhood, same house, for more than a decade, have magically evaporated.

We don’t want “closure.” We want amnesia.

We want to pretend that Ariel Castro never happened, that his crimes were bizarre enough to make him an aberration, that he was unpreventable.

  • Michael Kollmorgen

    I suspect that Castro did not hang himself – his fellow prisoners hung him.

    I suspect also the prison guard that was supposed to watch him went away for awhile to let the other prisoners get to Castro.

    Prison guards will routinely ignore the power brokers in prisons – the prisoners themselves.

    • Germansmith

      That would have been sweet, but supposedly he was in solitary and alone.
      Rapists and molesters do not do well in the big house.

      • Michael Kollmorgen

        You’re probably right.

        However, remember, there are NO black rapist or molesters in prison, only whites. The prison system is controlled by the black prison population and according to them, the before mentioned criminals don’t exist.

        Also, I find it very strange when a actual murderer has a higher status than a molester in prison. I always thought taking a life was more serious. I mean, according to god it is a unforgiving sin. Evidently, they have a different spin on things. Then too, prison overall is a concentrated and perverted microcosm of society in general.

        • Germansmith

          Well. majority rule, do not take that away from them…just kidding
          Molester and rapist do not do well in prison probably because those crimes are committed against women and children and even the most ruthless killers have mothers and kids.
          Taking a life is more serious, but I bet an small majority of people murdered are probably other unsavory characters who probably had it coming.
          In my book, I would respect a bank robber far more….after all they stole money from other crooks

          • Michael Kollmorgen

            Yea, I would suppose who are murdered in prison by their own peers “sometimes” deserve it. Most of the time, its over a bad drug deal, owed money, broken promise(s).

            There is a code of ethics in prison, for what it’s worth, between prisoners. Cop killers are the most respected. Then it goes down the list from there. The least respected are the Molesters and Arsonist. I think this is because they are weak in the mind, wimpish, have serious mental problems. The prisoners pick up on it real quick and will take full advantage of someone like that to the hilt. And, if you can’t defend yourself, it goes downhill from that point on.

            These people who commit these types of crimes, if they aren’t too serious should be in a mental facility, not prison.

            Unlike outside where people get away with just about anything, in prison there are two things you don’t do. You don’t break a promise and you ALWAYS pay your bills. You don’t follow though with a promise or pay a bill, you could get killed over it. These two reasons is probably why there are a lot of prison killings.

            If you want to find what the true nature is of your fellow man is, just serve some time in prison. You’ll find out real quick.

  • Germansmith

    Congratulations to Ohio for saving themselves the cost of keeping this monster incarcerated for the next 30 years.
    There is the end of this book.

  • Elisabeth Gordon

    Irony of the year award to this story – the girls were imprisoned for a decade and survived, their captor lasted a month…hmmpf.

  • elw

    Using a deranged rapist and kidnapper’s death in prison is not the choice example to make if you are complaining about the prison system. Although I agree that our Prison system is in disarray, I hardly care what happen to Castro. There are enough people in jails (including children) that need a champion and who are more deserving to use. What something important to complain about? How about starting with the scandal of the privately own jails, that hold prisoners in discussing circumstances at outrageous cost to the tax payer. There is lots and lots about our prison system that needs changing, Castro’s death is the very least of them.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      What we should use as perfect examples of our prison systems is the mentally ill serving time in regular prison settings. Regardless of what type of crime Castro committed, he did have serious mental problems. And, he may turn out to be the perfect test case to use.

      People who have mental problems who commit a crime should never serve time in a regular prison setting. But, they should be committed to a mental facility that will diagnose and TREAT the mental disorder. Some, for the rest of their lives.

      Incarcerating someone with a serious mental problem only exasperates the problem when its time to parole the former offender. These people get out of prison much worse than when they went in.

      Even prisoners who don’t have any mental disorders (which can be debated) come out worse if doing more than 5 years.

      This is not how prison time is supposed to work.

      Furthermore, when someone does finally get out of prison either on parole or on their own without supervision, there should be mandated a full social network of support and with that mandated participation from the offender, which don’t exist today. This would, if not completely cure that “revolving door”, but help greatly in rehabilitating a former offender – regardless if it was a youth offender or a seasoned former criminal.

      In effect, what this country has done, our society has created a second-tier, second-class society of citizens who will always find themselves repeatedly in prisons. The states and their justice/prison industrial complex feeds off this misery and self perpetuates itself over and over again.

      And, in the end, the TAX PAYER must foot that bill whether anyone likes it or not!

      • elw

        Michael, I actually agree with you. I only meant to say that there are other less controversial examples to use that will not distract from the from the very real issues with our prison system. There are far too many lives being thrown away by a system that treats minor offenders and those with mental disorders the exact same way as those who have committed violent crimes. Yes it will cost the Tax payer to provide the support services needed to rehabilitate/support non-violent offenders and the mentally ill, but studies have shown that the costs of actually providing community support and follow up will be cheaper than just holding them endlessly in Jail.

        • Michael Kollmorgen

          Oh, I did not mean my comment towards you as a criticism:)

          But, also be aware to make a distinction between violent and non-violent offenders, well, that makes no sense. All of these former offenders, violent, non-violent, with or without mental issues will be released IF that is the wish of the state prison system and our current system of justice(?).

          It really doesn’t matter what they did to get into prison. The important aspect is what they are going to do once they are released. Once they served their time and are released, other than the very serious crimes (that is what is really up for debate – what is more serious than another), they fully deserve to be supported to the hilt by society to be able to be acclimated back into society.

          I have to wonder what type of community would ignore what went on in the Castro household. Somebody must have noticed something and just plain ignored it. I am assuming with at least 4 people living in that house, there would have been a large accumulation of garbage once a week on the curb. This should have been a tip off that there was more than one person living in that house.

          To a large extent, I blame the surrounding neighborhood for allowing this to go on for 10? years. Someone should have called the Cops long ago and the cops should have taken a greater interest in it if they were ever called.

          This entire situation I consider as a complete failure of society as a whole.

          Take Care:)

          • elw

            I know these things are never simple. You take care, as well. I am sure we will speak again.