Derek Chauvin Moved To Arizona High Security Prison For Murder Of George Floyd
Derek Chauvin has been moved from a Minnesota state prison, where he was often held in solitary confinement, to a medium-sized federal prison in Arizona, where the former police officer convicted of the murder of George Floyd can be held on less stringent terms.
According to the Bureau of Prisons, Chauvin was transferred Wednesday from a maximum-security prison in suburban Minneapolis, where he spent most of his day in a 10-by-10-foot cell, to the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson.
The Tucson facility houses 266 inmates, both male and female, as part of a larger complex that includes a high-security penitentiary and minimal security satellite camp.
Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Randilee Giamusso declined to provide details about the circumstances of Chauvin’s incarceration, citing concerns about privacy, safety and security.
Experts previously said Chauvin would likely be safer in the federal system. It typically houses fewer violent inmates, and is less likely to associate with inmates he had arrested or investigated as a Minneapolis police officer.
“It’s dangerous to be an officer in any prison,” former US Attorney Tom Heffelfinger said after Chauvin was sentenced last month. “It is even more dangerous in the state prison because of the nature of the prison population. For example, there are gangs. And cops just don’t do well there. Those risks are reduced in a federal prison.”
The federal prison system is home to many high-profile inmates, but it is also plagued by gangs and chronic violence. The entire federal prison system was shut down nationwide in January after two inmates were killed and two others injured in a gang brawl at a Texas federal prison.
The Bureau of Prisons has also faced increasing scrutiny of violent incidents and serious misconduct in its ranks. Associated Press investigations have uncovered leadership abuse, neglect and missteps, including rampant employee sexual abuse, severe staff shortages, prisoner escapes and the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Chauvin was sentenced to 21 years on federal civil rights charges by the U.S. district court in St. Paul last month after pleading guilty in a deal with prosecutors. He had already served 22 1/2 years before his conviction in state court on charges of murder and manslaughter; a condition of the agreement requested that the sentences be served concurrently and in federal prison.
Chauvin, who is white, killed Floyd by pushing the unarmed black man to the curb with his knee for 9 1/2 minutes, while bystanders captured Floyd as he struggled to breathe and screamed for help. Floyd was suspected of passing a counterfeit bill at a nearby supermarket.
Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020 sparked a storm of protests around the world, refocusing attention on police brutality and racism.
U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson, in sentencing Chauvin, suggested placing him near family who live between Iowa and Minnesota. But federal officials are not bound by court requests.
The Tucson Prison Inmate Orientation Manual states that inmates’ responsibilities include sweeping and mopping their cell floors and removing trash. The prison offers leisure programs that include “organized and informal games, sports, physical fitness, table games, hobbies, music programs, intramural activities, social and cultural organizations, and movies.”
Last month, Magnuson also sentenced former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Kueng to three years in prison and former officer Tou Thao to 3 1/2 years on criminal charges related to the murder of Floyd. They plan to appeal their verdict. Earlier in July, former officer Thomas Lane was sentenced to 2 1/2 years. He has been ordered to report to a poorly secured federal detention camp in Colorado later this month.
The three former officers were on trial at the same time three men were in court in Georgia on federal hate crime charges in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, who was black. They were eventually convicted.
Two of the men agreed to plead guilty in the case in exchange for serving their sentences in federal prison, saying they feared for their safety in the state prison. The judge rejected the deal in part because Arbery’s family was vehemently against it.