MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Derek Chauvin was given a sentence of 22.5 years, but it’s possible he only ends up serving 15 of those in prison.

In Minnesota, people convicted of felonies spend at least two-thirds of the sentence in prison. The final third can be spent on supervised release.

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Doing it that way provides a level of certainty in sentencing not guaranteed in some states, where sentences can be given as a range to be decided later by a parole board, or where sentences can be reduced for good behavior.

Mary Moriarty, a former Hennepin County Chief Public Defender, says supervised release is similar to parole.

“You are supervised by a supervised release agent who’s monitoring you and there have been conditions imposed, usually when a person’s released, that are supposed to be tailored to that person,” she said.

Despite many people being satisfied with Chauvin’s sentence, Moriarty says, in her experience, sentencing doesn’t always provide closure for victims and their families.

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Terrence Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, still had questions for Chauvin during the sentencing hearing Friday.

“I wanted to know from the man himself, ‘Why?’ What were you thinking?” Floyd said. “What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck?”

Department of Corrections officials have said that granting offenders supervised release for the final third of their sentence makes it less likely they’ll return to prison for committing another crime.

Similarly, Moriarty says more prison time doesn’t necessarily mean rehabilitation.

“It does not make somebody be accountable and that’s an important distinction,” she said.

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Offenders out on supervised release can be re-arrested and sent back to prison if they violate their conditions.

David Schuman