You've no doubt heard the cries from the gallows: "How could they let that monster live?!" Well friends, the fact of the matter is that Mr. Castro was entitled to pursue negotiations with the state...and he just may have saved folks like you and me a ton of tax dollars.
I often get asked how much a criminal trial will cost. There are no benchmarks or set numbers that apply to every situation, but I can tell you without a doubt that the process is not cheap, quick or easy by either side's standards. Obviously, the defendant will have to pay for legal services if he or she is able to do so. Very often though, we see the state government carrying the vast majority of the economic burden.
This happens mostly in cases where a defendant is indigent and the state has to fund not only the prosecution but the defense as well. Every individual charged with a crime is entitled to an attorney pursuant to the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the state will supply the lawyer if the criminal cannot. That cost is in addition to the fact that the defendant will also be incarcerated during the entire process, which also sucks American tax dollars down the drain.
The cost of a jury trial becomes even greater when the prosecution files a death warrant and the trial becomes capital. That would have likely been the prosecution's next step in the Ariel Castro case had he not taken the plea recommendation for punishment. If the plea agreement had not occurred, we as a nation would have had to plow through another very public trial, just to see the same likely result: guilty. Still there is some question as to whether the prosecution would have been able to prove the possible aggravated murder charges it threatened to necessitate capital punishment.
Regardless, a capital case can cost the state millions, and that doesn't even take into account the appeals process. If the case did go to trial, there would have probably been at least two appeals: a direct appeal and a federal habeas appeal. The direct appeal would have likely been exhausted at the expense of the state as well. Again, keep in mind that the defendant is incarcerated this entire time...all at the costs of tax payers like you and me. Add to all this the fact that Castro would not have been put to death for another ten to twenty years as he exhausted all of his appeals, and you have a huge money pit that the state would have dug.
But now, based on Castro's guilty plea, he severely limits the scope of any prospective appeal. Moreover, in reality, Castro may have effectively signed himself up for an indirect death sentence anyways.
Individuals charged with crimes such as rape of this magnitude do not usually fare well in prison after they are convicted. That is especially evident when the offense involves a child, such as someone charged with lewd molestation. Hell, even a charge for manufacturing child porn or possession of child pornography could stir up the emotions of the fellow inmates. That is why it is so important to protect your rights if you are in fact innocent of the allegations. I can think of nothing worse than an innocent person stuck in a prison environment with that kind of target on their back.
Sex Crimes Involving Children
This "target" results because every society has a set of codes and rules that it uses as a baseline for some sense of "morality" and normalcy. This is the same for prison populations. One of those rules is that you do not take advantage of children.
Moreover, I'm sure a subset of that prohibition would contain some disregard for individuals who lock women in captivity and rape them for approximately a decade. Consequently, it is incredibly imperative that anyone charged with a crime of that magnitude preserve his or her innocence as long as possible if there is at least a shred of doubt as to the state's allegations. In Mr. Castro's situation however, there just didn't seem to be any doubt whatsoever regarding the torture he put those girls through.
Still, even if there was some defense, it's not like Castro came off as a likeable defendant for a jury. Just to recap some of his ramblings:
- he denied the rapes, and actually tried to argue that the sex was consensual ("they would even ask me for sex");
- he tried to blame the girls because they got in his ride and entered his home (minus the fact that he immediately chained them up once inside);
- he blamed the FBI for not rescuing the victims earlier;
- he tried to explain that all of this really only stems from his addiction to pornography;
- he focused almost as much on his "musical talent" as he did on his "apology;" and
- he rationalized that the victims could not have been tortured in confinement because they are enjoying their freedom...
As such, Castro will likely begin his sentence in solitary confinement or some other form of segregation. His life likely depends on it. Castro was sentenced to life without parole, plus an additional 1,000 years, so he has a lot of time to worry about looking over his shoulder. Like one of the Ariel Castro victims said, his hell is just beginning.