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HomeGeneralChauvin Incident Sparks Concerns Over Federal Prison Safety

Chauvin Incident Sparks Concerns Over Federal Prison Safety

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A picture of Derek Chauvin merged with a picture of a U.S. Federal prison.
Source: Twitter/DailyNoahNews

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pleaded guilty to violating George Floyd’s civil rights, leading to his federal prison sentence. Experts believe this is a safer option for him compared to the state prison where he was sent following his conviction for Floyd’s murder.

However, Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, recognized that he would become a target and advocated for his removal from the general prison population. 

More than a year later, Nelson’s concerns were validated. On November 24, Chauvin was stabbed 22 times by a fellow inmate. The attacker informed investigators that he targeted the former officer due to his notoriety, as per court documents.

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The attack on Chauvin follows a disturbing trend of violence against high-profile inmates. In July, former sports doctor Larry Nassar, convicted of sexually abusing athletes, was stabbed at a federal prison in Florida. Similarly, in 2018, James “Whitey” Bulger met a fatal beating at a West Virginia federal prison. 

Tragically, suicides have also impacted notorious figures: the “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski took his own life in June at a federal prison medical center in North Carolina. Disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide at a federal jail in New York in 2019.

Federal prisons are often perceived as safer, partly because of their higher concentration of inmates convicted of nonviolent offenses. This observation comes from Christine Tartaro, a professor of criminal justice at Stockton University, whose research focuses on violence within correctional facilities.

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The Federal Bureau of Prisons oversees 122 prisons nationwide, as stated on its website. During the period from October 2021 to October 2023, there have been 361 guilty findings related to assault with serious injury. Also, there have been 17 guilty findings of killing within its institutions.

The information came from Randilee Giamusso, a Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesperson. This figure does not include people convicted of “assault without serious injury,” which refers to attempted assaults or attacks with fewer severe injuries.

A former prison warden, Cameron Lindsay, believes Chauvin should have been kept isolated, similar to his state prison conditions. Chauvin’s attack occurred following a December report from the Justice Department’s inspector general. The statement highlighted several failures in staff and management at the U.S. Penitentiary at Hazelton. 

These failures preceded the killing of James “Whitey” Bulger, the former head of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang and an FBI informant. Bulger was killed less than 12 hours after being transferred to Hazelton.

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The medium-security prison in Tucson, where Chauvin faced the attack, has grappled with security lapses and a shortage of staff. Giamusso mentioned that the correctional services staffing at the institution was around 99% on the day Chauvin was stabbed. However, she acknowledged that staffing has been an ongoing concern.

John Turscak, a former member of the Mexican Mafia and an FBI informant, is alleged to have stabbed Chauvin on November 24 in the law library at FCI Tucson. Investigators revealed that Turscak informed FBI agents that he had been contemplating the attack on Chauvin for about a month.

Following the incident, Turscak has been charged with attempted murder, assault with intent to commit murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, and assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

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