Friday, June 25, 2021

Chauvin Sentenced to 22.5 Years

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd.

No sentence can bring George Floyd back to life, and hence no sentence can in itself create justice. Moreover, no sentence of Derek Chauvin can, in itself, reform the structures of policing that enabled George Floyd's murder. A single sentence, after the fact, does not change anything.

Nonetheless, the criminal sentence is important -- it is important for providing some measure of closure to Floyd's family, it is important as a signal of the seriousness with which we take crimes of this nature, and it is important as a means of communicating to other officers that this sort of behavior will be met with significant consequences. Chauvin faced a maximum of forty years; he asked for probation. The guidelines for an offender without a previous record would have been 12-15 years, but as the sentencing judge noted there were aggravating factors in this case.

Paul Butler said that taking all of that into account, an 18 year sentence struck him as appropriate. Twenty-two and a half years is more than that, but in the same ballpark. It strikes me as appropriate, proportional, and -- as far as can be achieved in unjust circumstances -- just. But my opinion is not especially important, so my main hope is that Floyd's family and community feel the same.

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