As if the world needed one more reason to despise Ariel Castro, the convicted kidnapper and rapist was found dead in his cell, hanging from a bed sheet fashioned as a noose. Many call his apparent suicide the ultimate act of cowardice; the man who held three young women in captivity for more than a decade couldn't stand the captivity himself.
He served only about a month of his sentence before deciding that a life of being held against his will was just too difficult to bear. The irony of the situation leaves many with a sense of frustration that justice was cut short.
Now that his life sentence has been fulfilled in just one month, it only seems fair that he should have to serve the remaining thousand years of his sentence. A part of me thinks he will...one way or another.
Although Castro accepted a plea that allowed him to escape the death penalty, his sentence was a clear message that his acts were despicable, and that he would never be released. Life without parole plus 1,000 years. That is certainly making a statement.
However, it is far from the longest sentence ever meted out to a criminal convicted of an especially heinous crime. In fact, it is really just a slap on the wrist compared to the longest prison sentence handed down to a single person on multiple counts.
That dubious distinction goes to Charles Scott Robinson, a child rapist convicted in 1994 of six felony counts including three counts of lewd acts with a minor, two counts of forcible oral sodomy and one count of first degree rape by instrumentation. The Oklahoma jury sentenced Robinson to -- get this -- 5,000 years for each count.
Yep, that's a total of 30,000 years in prison. According to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections offender-lookup website, the end date for completion of his final sentence is May 29, 7967. His 30,000 year sentence is noted by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Welcome to the obstacles faced by a Oklahoma criminal defense attorney.
In the 1990's, the Sooner state handed down several other noteworthy sentences. In addition to Robinson's record-setting term, Darron B. Anderson and Allan W. McLaurin each received thousands of years of prison time for their convictions.
Anderson and McLaurin were convicted in 1993 of robbery, kidnapping and rape of an elderly woman in Tulsa County. Anderson was initially sentenced to 2,200 years in prison; however, he appealed and won a new trial. His second trial also ended in conviction, but this time, the jury sentenced Anderson to 11,250 years. His scheduled release date is August 1, 9746. His accomplice, McLaurin, was sentenced to 21,250 years, but upon appeal, his sentence was reduced by 500 years. McLaurin is scheduled for release September 20, 9837.
Other than sending a message to others that atrocious crimes will not go unpunished, what is the purpose of such an extensive sentence? Some say it is an attempt to make sure that prisoners who are not eligible for the death penalty are never free.
In Oklahoma, a "life sentence" is calculated at 45 years for the purpose of parole. Many violent crimes are subject to the state's "85 Percent Rule," which means that a violent offender must serve 85 percent of his or her sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
That means if a 20-year-old person was sentenced to life in prison, he or she could be free before his or her 59th birthday -- leaving an extra 20 years or so of freedom if he or she reaches the average life expectancy. However, if a person serves 85 percent of a 30,000 year sentence . . . well, there is no chance of walking away.
Critics say that these impossible sentences are ludicrous. Although an appeals court upheld Robinson's 30,000 year sentence, Judge James Lane wrote in the dissenting opinion, "Thirty thousand years hence, man himself may be extinct. A sentence of this magnitude is, in my opinion, shocking and absurd."
The real absurdity, though, is a man convicted of imprisoning others who could not fathom nor handle his own imprisonment. Most prisoners deal with their time and live with their past. Others try to take the easy way out. Castro's sentence was long, and it would have been extremely difficult, but it definitely wasn't even close to the longest prison sentence anyone has ever faced. Regardless, I don't think he is getting off the hook any time soon.