he’ll burn in hell

Ariel Castro hanged himself with a bedsheet in his prison cell last Tuesday evening.

It’s on the cusp of this kind of truncated fate that folks seem to relinquish justice to a higher power. If you thought to yourself that now he’ll burn in hell for his abhorrent crimes, you know what I’m writing about. And I wonder if that alone is impetus to believe in hell as much as hoping for something better, like peace, being free from pain, being released from the ravages of disease is to have faith in heaven.

For all of life’s gross infractions, its inequities, its violations, its brutal disregard for sense, there is some level of assumed justice in the premise that everything will work out in the end. So much for due process.

See, Castro was arrested. Enough evidence was brought against him in the judicial process where he was found guilty and sentenced to a punishment that the system negotiated and deemed appropriate to the crimes of kidnapping, rape, and murder.

Castro circumvented that justice in taking his own life. In so doing, Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus were robbed once again, as have countless others. For whatever reason the vacuum of justice left to be filled gets written off like bad hospital debt to that great terminal clause in the sky.

And I wonder, if we actually believed in our own system, served as critical stewards of prudence and fairness, resilient to bias and litigious rhetoric, would there be such a need to reconcile the senseless in punishments and rewards dolled out in the afterlife? What is the point of justice then? Is it just to placate and make sense out of the bad things that happen?

In a discussion on this matter with my students today one asserted that with Castro dead, all is for the better; no more taxpayer burden to finance his life sentence, the convicted gets what he deserved and everyone can move on.  I’m unconvinced that’s the case for these three young women. Castro got off easy. His victims get to serve life terms where justice should assuage, instead of in the imaginings of hellfire and brimstone.

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