Justice, at last


If Ariel Castro achieves a standard life span, he will spend nearly as many years in prison as he held captive three young women in Cleveland. And then he’ll die, without ever again enjoying freedom. That seems about right.

To avoid a trial and possible imposition of the death penalty, the 53-year-old Castro agreed to plead guilty to 937 charges related to his illegal imprisonment and abuse of his victims, whom he abducted between 2002 and 2004. One of the victims escaped from Castro’s house in May, with help from neighbors on the block. The other two women were rescued quickly thereafter.

To ensure that he will never become eligible for parole, Castro will serve a sentence of life plus 1,000 years. He will not be allowed to cash in by selling his story to the tabloids or reality TV.

Too much of the sordid nature of his predations already has become known: how Castro raped, beat, starved, and emotionally tortured his captives, forced one of them to bear his child, and caused another to miscarry repeatedly — acts that prosecutors called murder.

Castro has described what he called his own abuse as a child and his addiction to pornography. Neither claim mitigates his crimes in the slightest.

If anything positive can be said to have emerged from this outrage — aside from the reviews it has stimulated among police departments of how they deal with missing-person reports — it is the support the victims have received from the community, as they have rejoined their families and seek to rebuild the lives that were stolen from them for too long.

By contrast, after Castro is sentenced today, his son says he does not plan to visit his father in prison. Nor is he likely to have contact with the daughter he fathered with one of his victims. A life and death in obscurity and isolation would be a just conclusion.