A new report on the death of Ariel Castro was released Tuesday; it details Castro's final days.
The 53-year-old arrived at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio a little more than a month before prison guards would find him hanging from his cell window, a knotted bed sheet tied around his neck.
Prison records from both Lorain Correctional and the Reception Center indicated Castro repeatedly denied being suicidal. He admitted to feeling depressed, but said that was only after his arrest for the kidnapping and rape of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, whom he imprisoned for a decade inside his Seymour Avenue home on Cleveland's west side. They escaped on May 6, 2013.
Lindsay M. Hayes, M.S., and Fred Cohen, LL.B., LL.M, authors of the Report on Recent High Profile Inmate Suicides Within the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction: Review and Legal Analysis said in their report that Castro cited a number of reasons for wanting to live, "including his religious beliefs, his family and his children."
Castro not only kept a journal, he also penned a paper entitled "A Day in the Life of a Prisoner." He wrote of the monotony of his daily routine and said, "As for me, I will never see light at the end of the tunnel, but that's all right, it's what I chose... I've lots of time on my hands now to think and read, write, exercise. I want to make a bigger effort to try to commit to God... I wonder how warm the cell will be in winter, for I'm very sensitive to cold draft. It literally drives me to get under the covers... I also get depressed and don't want to do anything but just lay here, I guess we'll just have to wait and see when I get to that bridge... Most of the guards here are okay, but the younger ones don't take the job seriously or they are rude to me for no apparent reason... Sometimes I drift into a negative thought, I check myself and try harder not to go there."
Castro made notes in his journal right up to the morning of his death.
Less than two weeks before he was found hanging in his cell, Castro wrote, "I don't know if I can take this neglect anymore, and the way I'm being treated."
Three days before his death on September 3, Castro penned, "I will not take this kind of treatment much longer if this place treats me this way, I can only imagine what things would be like at my parent institution... I feel as though I'm being pushed over the edge, one day at a time."
Castro pleaded guilty to more than 900 counts that included kidnapping, murder and rape. He was sentenced to life in prison plus a thousand years.
The suicide of 44-year-old inmate Billy Slagle on August 4, 2013 was also investigated as part of the author’s attempt to determine if steps could be taken to improve suicide prevention practices within the DRC. Slagle was scheduled to be executed three days before hanging himself in his cell.
The authors of the report made five recommendations for preventative measures within the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction:
1. The adoption of enhanced mental health staff involvement with “high profile” inmates as per the discussion at Section C, pg. 18.
2. Immediate action to correct a culture that has allowed officer falsification of logs related to security rounds, as well as, better accountability of corrections supervisors.
3. The re-invigoration of the earlier, more rigorous staff training on custodial suicide and ending of the use of online, electronic training courses.
4. The enlargement of agreements with counties to enhance the receipt of their records, which may have relevant, suicide-risk information.
5. A closer examination of the uses of mental health observation and close watch statuses.
JoEllen Smith, Communications Chief for the ODRC, told FOX 8, Director Gary Mohr, “Reviewed the report and while the findings acknowledge the suicides of Billy Slagle and Ariel Castro cannot “be attributed to the failure of DRC staff,” he is committed to working with the consultants and DRC staff to develop steps to address the recommendations contained within the report.