In her memoir released this week, Amanda Knox offers anecdotes about how she filled her time in Italian prison.
She was locked up for four years when she was arrested and stood trial for allegedly murdering her study-abroad roommate, Meredith Kercher, in 2007.
Here’s how she spent those long years of imprisonment:
She read “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” to help her learn Italian:
[A guard] had rummaged through the prison book closet to bring me Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in Italian, along with an Italian grammar book, and a dictionary. I still cared about learning Italian, even then, and I spent hours looking up definitions and diagramming each sentence into subject and predicate. Anything that made me feel purposeful gave me emotional comfort, and it was psychologically essential for me to find a silver lining in my imprisonment.
She kept a diary:
Early on, I started keeping a journal, which I titled, “Il mio diario del prigione” — “My Prison Diary” — on the cover. … But I spent most of my time sitting on my bed wondering what was happening beyond the 60-foot-high walls topped with coiled razor wire.
She got in shape:
I exercised as much to stay warm as to stay in shape. Breaking a sweat cleared my mind and tamped down my anxiety. After I exhausted myself, I’d walk in the tight, hypnotic circles available to me, signing or repeating the mantra It’s going to be OK. Just hold on. It’s going to be OK.
She hung out with the prison’s Catholic chaplain and watched movies:
Don Saulo did look out for me. Every Tuesday he screened a movie in the women’s ward under the guise of “rehabilitation.” To my amazement, he convinced prison officials to let me attend. … Movies, like everything else, brought out Don Saulo’s emotional side. I can’t remember the lights once coming back on at the end of a movie when his cheeks weren’t wet and his voice didn’t quaver, whether we’d just watched The Passion of the Christ, Bruce Almighty, or The Princess and the Frog.
She used Apple products:
[Representatives from the Italy-USA Foundation] visited at least once a month and sent me books once a week. They gave me a Mac computer and bought me an iPod as a birthday present — and somehow they managed to convince the director of the prison to let me use both.
She hung out with a toddler whose mother was a fellow inmate in prison:
Mothers and their children were also allowed to attend Don Saulo’s group activity time. Mina sat on my lap during movies, let me carry her around the room, and chose me as her dance partner when Don Saulo played religious music. She liked to switch shoes with me. She’d hand her own tiny, red plastic ones on my toes and clomp around in mine.
She helped other inmates:
I helped prisoners write letters, legal documents, grocery lists, and explain an ailment to the doctor. The Nigerian women treated me as an honored guest, setting me up at a table and offering tea and cake as they dictated to me. This was my way of being part of the prison community in my own terms … I could help other inmates with my ability to read and write in both Italian and English.
And she acted as a translator — a former career goal she was contemplating as a student before she was imprisoned:
Prison officials started calling me to be an interpreter for anyone who didn’t speak Italian — even if that other language was Chinese and I had to point to words in the English-Chinese dictionary I happened to have.
Knox is now back home in Seattle. She was initially found guilty of Kercher’s murder in 2009, but that verdict was overturned on appeal in 2011. A higher court in Italy recently overturned that acquittal and now her case must be heard again.
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