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Report finds Castro death was suicide; changes needed at prisons

 
Report finds Castro death was suicide; changes needed at prisons
Posted December 3rd, 2013 @ 3:23pm by WTVN Newsroom

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Two corrections consultants have concluded that Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro committed suicide in his prison cell and didn't die by accidentally killing himself while attempting to achieve a sexual thrill.

The nationally regarded consultants rejected a suggestion in a state prisons report last month that Castro's Sept. 3 hanging was not a suicide as originally believed.

The 53-year-old Castro had just begun serving a life sentence plus 1,000 years for imprisoning and raping three women in his shuttered house for a decade.

The consultants' report released Tuesday says all available evidence, including a shrine-like display in Castro's cell and an increasing tone of frustration in his prison journal, point to suicide.

Castro's journal included several entries about the quality of food he was being served. He described the food as being cold with hair and plastic in it. There were also entries telling of food being found in a "pool of water." Castro flushed a lot of the food down the toilet.

He also complained about rude corrections officers writing that some were mistreating him for no apparent reason.

"Specific allegations of officer misconduct and disrespect to an inmate, those issues were never formally presented to the department," said Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Corrections spokesperson JoEllen Smith.

Castro also wrote about his cell and toilet being filthy and not being given new bed sheets or underwear.

"Still nothing gets done. I don't know if I can take this neglect anymore, and the way I'm being treated," he wrote.

On August 31, Castro wrote that he felt like he was being "pushed over the edge, one day at a time."

Two days before Castro killed himself, he wrote that he still couldn't get clean underwear and that a supervisor told him the brown rice he was given to eat "looks like dog ----."

Castro was found hanging in his cell from a sheet attached to a window hinge.

The consultants report found that Castro's death was "not predictable, but suicide was not surprising and inevitable" given that he would never see the outside of prison walls again. They also didn't see a connection between allegations of officer mistreatment and Castro's suicide.

While the report focused on Castro's suicide and that of death row inmate Billy Slagle, it also took at look at

Smith says staff members at correctional facilities will get additional training and specialized training will be given to those working in areas of the system where the most suicides have occurred.

"We support any time that there's going to be a bigger emphasis put on training because it only benefits the men and women that work inside these facilities," said Tim Schafer with the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, the union that represents corrections officers.

Schafer says that allegations of abuse by Castro may have happened, but he blames some of that on the fact that training has been cut in recent years. At the same time staffing has been reduced while the inmate population has increased.

"It's next to impossible to stop suicides unless you sit somebody on every single inmate, every single hour, of every single day," Schafer said.

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