09 October 2011

LIFE: Knox'd Out

SARONNO, Italy - I don’t know about you, but I’ve been Amanda Knox’d up to my eyeballs. I watched her appeal to the Italian court last week and frankly it was nice to see that she finally took her situation seriously. In my opinion the four years she spent in Capanne women’s prison in the green hills of Umbria will probably end up doing her more good than harm, and I’m not talking about the million dollar book deal she’s got either. There’s nothing like a slice of real life to make you appreciate what you have and who you are.
Amanda Knox
I can’t help but compare Amanda Knox to some of the  students I had when I taught a writing course at a  private university here in Italy. For the most part the American and Canadian students were away from home for the first time, ready to party, to let loose, and show the Italians how much they could drink, how much they could smoke and just how cool they were. 

One of the biggest complaints the Anglo-Saxon’s had was that the Italians took three hours to get dressed and then when they were finally out at a club they would only have one drink.  They were no fun, they never got drunk and danced on the tables or threw up all over themselves. In fact they were downright boring.
Meredith Kercher
But the Americans knew how to party, and they liked to party hearty, so hearty that the university came close to shutting the entire exchange program down one year after they were required to pay out a large chunk of money to local taxi owners to clean up their taxi’s after the Anglo party goers had thrown up in them.

So starting with Amanda’s behavior after she was arrested, that irresponsible, self-centered attitude is what I saw in her, and frankly I still see. She’s just a little smarter now.  Being locked up for four years will do that to you. Life in any prison cannot be easy, and most certainly Amanda went through a difficult period of adjustment. But the way she is being canonized on American TV, you’d think she had been swept up off the street and dropped into a hole in a prison in the middle of a jungle. 
Capanne Prison, Umbria, Italy
Compared to other countries, Italian prisons are quite civilized. When Amanda was first convicted she shared a cell with three other women, a Kosovan, a Chinese and a Roma (gypsy). Toward the end of her sentence she was sharing the space with two Italian women and a Bolivian. In each cell there are cooking facilities, a shower area and a TV. During the day the doors of the cells are open and the inmates are free to walk around and visit with other inmates. 

During her time in prison Amanda continued her language studies with her professors at the University of Washington.  She also spent time reading, watching television, exercising in the prison yard and listening to music.  She had a small part in a film that was shot in the prison and apparently took up singing and gave little concerts for the other inmates. I don’t know what prisons are like in the United States, but somehow I think they are a little more restrictive.

With more visiting privileges than any of the other inmates, she saw her parents often and not from behind a plastic shield. Visits were held in a private room where they could sit and talk, and hug.  

Now she’s claiming she was sexually harassed by a prison official. How come she never mentioned this before? It seems very odd. It’s not as if she could not have been transferred to another facility.
Patrick Lumumba
Did she get away with murder? Only she knows the answer to that. Personally I don’t feel sorry for her. When Amanda was arrested, she tried to push the blame for Meredith Kercher’s  murder on Congolese bar owner Patrick Lumumba. Why? 

It is difficult enough for Africans to make a living in Italy, but after being accused of assault and murder during a drug-fueled sexual encounter, it must be just about impossible for him now. My sympathies lie with Mr. Lumumba and his wife and children. I doubt that he has a million dollar book deal in the works. And the fact that Amanda has been found guilty of slander doesn’t change the fact that his business and his life are ruined.
 Rudy Guede
And I feel sorry for Meredith Kercher’s family. They lost their daughter. They sent her to Italy to study and she ended up dead. There’s no do over. 

It may very well be that the other person arrested for the murder, Rudy Guede, is guilty, after all his DNA was found at the scene, but it's hard to tell. There is very little information about him. All we know is that he is from the Ivory Coast, he’s a small time drug dealer and he is in Italy illegally, but that's nothing new. A lot of people are in Italy illegally these days. His trial seemed to be an open and shut case, but what was his motive? 

I wish I could say I was the only one who feels this way, but in talking to the Italians I know in Saronno they seem to think that there is a lot more to this story than what has come out so far. On a national basis, Il Secolo, one of Italy’s leading newspapers asked more than 2,500 people if they agreed with the decision of the judges in Perugia and 68% of them said they did not.


  1. I too believe there is more to the story--i mean how can someone sit-watch TV while someone is being murdered in the other room? I too agree that bias of color may have caused some to jump to guilty conclusions--why wasnt Rudy part of the appeal--wasnt Amandas DNA on Meredith's bra strap? many unanswered questions but once again the legal system, much like in America, favors the rich & famous (infamous really) and the rich normally beat the wrap.
    On the subject of prison conditions, one of our local scandalous stories this past month was of a young alleged murderous who got her beautician's license while awaititing trial--not very conforting to the family of the victim. I would bet Amanda is a much more recognized American girl whose actually improved her life status than is Meridith's name of American girl who lost her life. Sad really

  2. I reside in the U.S., and all of the back patting and lauding of Knox in the media is revolting. However, a number of people here do not feel she is factually innocent.

    Unfortunately, despite some very solid circumstantial evidence (including the DNA that was not reviewed by the appeals court), this case was politicized into some anti-American conspiracy, due in part to the PR firm that was hired by her family to misrepresent the facts of the case in various U.S. media outlets. I can't blame certain members of the legal profession for wanting to get rid of this, at the very least, mentally disturbed young woman with prior drug issues and a history of making false statements. Now she is back in the U.S., and time will tell if she's able to conquer her own demons or if she will act out violently again. Mr. Lumumba has had to pick up the pieces of his life after being falsely accused, so it's the very least society should expect of Knox and Sollecito.