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I read the ticker at the bottom of the flat screen television. Former law enforcement officer Derek Chauvin “convicted of all charges” levied against him for the killing of George Floyd. The men in the room were glued to the broadcast. 

Mark Wood, a 63-year-old White, retired U.S. Navy veteran serving a 25-year sentence, said he believed Chauvin was guilty of manslaughter, but he didn’t think he intended to kill Floyd. Wood said he was relieved it was over. 

“I think it will result in fewer arrests and more violence. Especially gun violence,” he added.  

Harry Austin, a 57-year-old Black man descended from a Cherokee Indian mother and North Carolinian father, agreed.

“I feel justice finally came to pass for a Black person abused by a White cop,” he said, adding, “The charges were accurate, but I can’t say he did it with malice. He was angry, though. Floyd had a previous altercation with him which might have given Chauvin a motive.” 

Austin, who is serving his 16th year of a 30-year sentence, said he felt the landscape of justice had changed. “They will be held accountable for their jobs,” he said. 

Rodney Tunidor, 43-year-old immigrant from Cuba commented that all the charges “fit the criteria of his actions.” 

I asked how he felt the verdict might change policing. “Finally you see some accountability,” Tunidor responded. “No one’s above the law. His actions broke the trust in law enforcement.”

 
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.

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J. Houston

J. Houston is a writer incarcerated in Florida. He is serving a 25-year sentence for a sexual offense against a minor. His high school literature teacher published his first poem in a journal for Seminole County. Nearly thirty years later, Ms. Susanna, an instructor for Exchange for Change's creative writing course, encouraged him to pickup writing again. Now in his 50s, he finds the possibility of realizing his dream to be a writer uplifting. He has asked that his first name be withheld to respect his victim and to reduce the possibility of reprisal.