State Prison Report Says Guards Didn't Check Castro's Cell Properly on Day of His Death

Ariel Castro shown on a video screen at a court hearing. (Brian Bull / ideastream)
Ariel Castro shown on a video screen at a court hearing. (Brian Bull / ideastream)
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The report from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says prison guards last month found Ariel Castro hanging from a bedsheet attached to the hinge of a window. There were pictures of his family arranged in the cell and an open Bible nearby.

Castro was found with his pants and underwear around his ankles. The prison system has asked the State Highway Patrol to look into whether his death may have been the result of auto-erotic asphyxiation.

The Franklin County Coroner, however, has ruled the death a suicide.

The prison report also says guards failed to check on Castro’s cell eight times, and falsified five log entries. They were supposed to do rounds every 30 minutes, and did check him about half an hour before finding him hanging.

Department spokeswoman JoEllen Smith says the guards will be the focus of an administrative review.

“The investigation is much more narrow in focus and surrounds -- solely looks at the issue of the rounds not properly being conducted," Smith says.

Castro underwent mental health examinations, but the report says prison staff did not show him a required suicide prevention video. The report notes Castro didn’t display signs of being suicidal.

The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association is defending its officers. Jimmy Adkins, the president of the union’s corrections division, says the prisons are overcrowded and understaffed, making it hard to check every prisoner.

“We believe that they shouldn’t be scapegoating them," Adkins says. "This is a systematic problem. Our corrections officers have a job to do. They’re not sitting behind some desk with their feet up on the table waiting for their shift to end.”

Adkins also says administrators should be held responsible. The report says a memorandum related to security rounds was not properly sent out to shift supervisors. But it wasn't clear what the memorandum actually said, because the paragraph describing its contents was redacted.

The State Highway Patrol is conducting a criminal investigation, though no charges have been filed yet, says patrol spokeswoman Lt. Anne Ralston.

Adkins says he doesn’t believe the guards broke any laws.

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