During Derek Chauvin’s sentencing, I turned off all appliances and listened intently for any sounds of jubilation or protest. I was amazed that I didn’t hear a single sound about the sentencing.
I spoke with several fellow prisoners, who wished not to be identified. They told me how struck they were by the pleas by Chauvin’s mother. One spoke of how it was reminiscent of his own sentencing, watching his mother make nearly identical pleas, like so many mothers before her. Chauvin’s mother stood proudly as she made her impassioned plea for leniency.
Other, unseen voices joined the conversation. Some said that no matter who it was, no one deserved years in these places full of broken men and women. That there has to be a better solution.
But the voice that rang truest for me was the one who described the video showing Chauvin having to be physically pushed off of George Floyd as if Floyd was somehow still a threat, even after life had already left his body. That image will live with all of us forever, and Chauvin must be made to account for his actions in the same way as all those he had sent to prison during his tenure as a police officer.
Prisons today are no more than warehouses, places of unimaginable mental anguish that fail in even their most basic goals of rehabilitation. Derek Chauvin was a sacrificial offering that has helped heal many and whose actions have brought to the forefront the very real abuses of power by many in law enforcement.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.