Federal Judge Accepts Chauvin Plea Deal

Ex-officer will serve 20 to 25 years for violating George Floyd's civil rights
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2021 2:07 PM CST
Updated May 4, 2022 6:40 PM CDT
Family Backs Derek Chauvin's Prison Choice
Derek Chauvin listens to verdicts being read at his April 2021 trial in Minneapolis.   (Court TV via AP, Pool, File)

Update: A federal judge has accepted a plea deal in the civil rights case against Derek Chauvin and will sentence him to 20 to 25 years in prison. The former police officer pleaded guilty in December to violating George Floyd's civil rights during the arrest that led to the Black man's death. Chauvin will serve the federal sentence concurrently with the 22½-year sentence he is serving in Minnesota for Floyd's murder, the AP reports. Without the plea deal, Chauvin could have faced a federal life sentence. Three other former Minneapolis officers found guilty of violating Floyd's civil rights have declined to take a plea deal. Our original story from Dec. 21, 2021, follows:

Should Derek Chauvin serve his sentence for the murder of George Floyd in state prison, he might make parole in 15 years. If Chauvin goes to federal prison, the guidelines mean he'll have to serve at least 20 years. Nevertheless, federal prison is his choice, ABC News reports. Floyd's family supports the agreement, which Chauvin signed Wednesday in a St. Paul, Minnesota, court. The former police officer was sentenced to 22½ years in state prison in June for the May 2020 killing. "It is important to the family that he serves as much of his sentence as possible," the Floyd family's lawyers said in a statement.

There are reasons anyone would prefer a federal lockup. "Federal prison just tends to be safer and nicer than state prison and local jails," said Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor who added that federal prisons are managed better. Another analyst cited crowding problems "in state prisons and local jails that you just don't have in federal prison." A former federal inmate said Chauvin can request a specific prison, but he might not get his choice. Any federal prison probably will isolate him, Rahmani said, though he could be put with white-collar criminals unlikely to pose a threat.

"Anytime you have a police officer in prison that's going to be a very risky situation for that individual," Rahmani said. "They've got to basically put him somewhere safe." Chauvin has another sentencing ahead, after pleading guilty to federal charges of violating George Floyd's civil rights. Under the plea agreement, that conviction could lengthen Chauvin's sentence by 2½ years, per the New York Times. In federal prison, the former inmate said, Chauvin can expect better food, better housing, and better bunks. (Read more Derek Chauvin stories.)

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