I’ve been pretty strident in my opinion about police violence. I’m in the camp that major reforms need to be made to police departments and how we approach law enforcement in general. I’m on the abolish the police side of things (though there is still nuance even within that stance).
That said, I am in favor of Chauvin being eligible for parole at the minimum sentence for his crimes. That minimum sentence would be 12.5 years.
1. In general, more severe sentencing provides little effect in deterrence. Much more important to deterrence is the risk of getting caught. The fact that Chauvin was convicted will be a deterrent to other officers. The severity of his sentence will have an effect, but it will be very minor compared to the effect of his conviction.
2. The prison system is currently not designed to reform individuals. Chauvin’s pattern of conduct was abuse of power. With his criminal record, he should be barred from any law enforcement jobs in the future, but also due to age, he will likely not be eligible for most jobs within 10+ years anyways. The opportunity for him to commit a similar crime will be miniscule. I have no idea if he is a good candidate for reform, as I neither have the expertise to evaluate him, nor have I had the opportunity to evaluate him.
3. From a retributive perspective, there is no number of years he can serve that will absolve him of his crime. There is no number of years in prison that will bring Floyd back, or heal the pain felt by Floyd’s family. Justice for Floyd can only come from reforming the system that empowered Chauvin to take his life. No punishment to Chauvin can ever be justice. His conviction is a formal acknowledgement of Chauvin’s guilt, and while the sentencing can be our declaration of how severe that guilt is, this is a purely emotional component. This last point is made well by Abigail Thorn. As a cooperative species, we instinctually desire retributive justice. Just because we have that instinct does not mean it is a good one though.
I think for those of us who are deeply concerned with how the prison system works, this is a test case for you. How do you really feel about prison reform? It might be something we intellectually understand and can apply when our emotions are not involved, and so if a case does carry emotions for us it is an opportunity to confront those feelings.
Can’t find much I disagree with here.
I’d much rather this case become a catalyst for reform and training of police forces that allows for less violent conflict resolution and incident assessment, than simply a retributive act against a single bad actor.