Letters to the Editor: Times editorial on sentencing Derek Chauvin was so wrong
To the editor: Your editorial on sentencing Derek Chauvin to prison says that locking up the fired Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd for the maximum possible time would be an act of unremitting, lifelong vengeance. You point out that Chauvin is “no longer a police officer and will never again be in a position to arrest a suspect with deadly force under color of authority.”
This position is racist and comes from privilege. It focuses on what’s appropriate for Chauvin rather than what’s fair for Floyd and his family. Vengeance, a very personal and subjective feeling, is not the issue. The issue is that Chauvin committed murder through his very cruel and public actions.
This is not about vengeance. It’s about justice for Floyd and how to punish the person who took his life.
Yolanda Alaniz, Los Angeles
To the editor: Minnesota Atty. Gen. Keith Ellison touched me when he talked about having compassion for Chauvin because he’s a human being.
In the United States, an estimated two-thirds of people released from prison re-offend. In Norway, it’s about 20%.
What the Norwegians do is rehabilitate. Being away from families is punishment. If rehabilitation hasn’t worked when a sentence is up, Norway can extend imprisonment.
What I’d add is service. If you’re incarcerated, it puts you in the employ of the state — not forced labor, but service according to your abilities that’s all gainful to the state as payback for crimes. This not only would help rehabilitate, it would also benefit society.
Housing people in cages and moving them around in chains is a barbaric way to treat humans. Our “eye for an eye” ethic is so ingrained that we don’t even see how primitive we are.
Suzanne Taylor, Los Angeles
To the editor: Maybe I’m just “old school,” but I believe that anyone who takes someone’s life maliciously should be sentenced to death or put away for at least 30 years as a “just” punishment because the dead person will never enjoy life on Earth again.
It’s about more than “an expression of hatred and fear.” It’s a punishment that is more likely to provide a real deterrent for the next few decades to other police officers who may be tempted to abuse their authority in such an evil and callous manner.
Sentencing a murderer like Chauvin to prison for 40 years (he ended up getting 22 and a half) would not have been unjust. If you want to see unjust sentences, look no further than the 20-year sentences for nonviolent drug violations that have been imposed on Black, brown and white men since the 1980s.
Reginald Clark, Montclair
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