Derek Chauvin’s reported stabbing was unlikely the most gruesome thing that happened across the nation’s prisons and jails on Friday. But it highlights the sordid nature of our less visible institutions that can be further obscured by a villainous victim. ??
Chauvin, of course, is the infamous former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted in state court of murdering George Floyd and in federal court of violating Floyd’s rights. His Supreme Court appeal was recently rejected. But to state the obvious, his decadeslong prison sentences don’t include, much less permit, violence inflicted upon him while incarcerated. That isn’t changed by the heinous nature of his kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes as Floyd repeatedly stated he couldn't breathe.
Chauvin was reportedly hospitalized but is expected to survive, an outcome he didn’t allow for Floyd. But rather than celebrating an attack on a convicted murderer, the incident should be cause for reflection and attention on the vile conditions in prisons and jails that let violence flourish. The former officer’s lawyer slammed the Bureau of Prisons’ lack of transparency following the incident, further highlighting problems plaguing the system that affect inmates around the country every day.
But just as Chauvin’s convictions and sentences are measures of accountability for state violence against the people police should be protecting, prisoners likewise deserve protection while incarcerated, regardless of the crimes that led to their incarceration.
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