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Derek Chauvin's stabbing raises further questions on federal prison security

Derek Chauvin 2nd high profile federal prisoner stabbed in recent months
Derek Chauvin 2nd high profile federal prisoner stabbed in recent months 02:03

MINNEAPOLIS — Derek Chauvin was badly hurt after he was stabbed in a federal prison late last week. Those federal prisons have long been viewed as a safer place for high-profile prisoners like Chauvin, but now more questions are being raised.

A WCCO source this weekend said Chauvin was hospitalized but stable. He's currently serving his 22-year sentence in a federal facility in Tucson, Arizona. The former police officer was convicted of killing George Floyd during an arrest in May 2020.

Chauvin is now the second high-profile federal prisoner to be stabbed in recent months, after Larry Nassar, convicted of molesting members of the U.S. women's national gymnastics team, was stabbed in a Florida federal prison in July.

Joe Tamburino, a criminal defense attorney who has clients in both federal and state prisons and is not affiliated with Chauvin's case, says federal prisons generally "provide more protection, and they have greater services."

The Federal Bureau of Prisons is not commenting on whether a shortage of prison guards was a factor in last week's stabbing. During both his federal and state trials, Chauvin's attorney successfully argued that he serve both his federal and state sentences in a federal facility because of safety.

While in Minnesota, Chauvin was held in isolation at the state's maximum security prison in Oak Park Heights for his own protection. However, isolation is usually reserved as a prison punishment. Chauvin has reportedly been a model prisoner.

"That's the devil's choice, you see, because if you want to be fully protected, you have to go in isolation or segregation. But it's horrible to serve your time in segregation," Tamburino said.

Chauvin's attorney complained over the weekend that his family was not notified of the stabbing until well after the news broke.

It's not clear if Chauvin will now be moved to a different federal prison. During both his federal and state criminal proceedings, Chauvin's defense attorney asked he be sentenced to a federal prison in or near Minnesota to be closer to his family. Visits at the Tuscon prison are still suspended in the aftermath of the stabbing.

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