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Amanda Knox and the Meaning of Justice

Amanda Knox was freed from the hold of the Italian penal system yesterday.  Hers was a battle for justice, a testament to perseverance, and a reminder of how imperfect human justice can be.  Her case sends us a message, loud and clear: given our imperfections as people, we must remember to build a justice system that does all it can to protect us from those imperfections.

In the Amanda Knox case, Italian prosecutors ignored the physical evidence, ignored the compelling DNA evidence, and instead prosecute on the basis of a coerced and poorly translated confession.  As a result, twenty-something Amanda Knox spent four years in an Italian prison for a crime she almost certainly did not commit.

This probably would not happen in the United States.  Our system has, to this point, developed ways to pressure our prosecutors into confronting scientific evidence and preventing them from using coerced confessions.  But many in our country would push for legislation that would make it easier to convict the accused.  The Amanda Knox case should stop those efforts in their tracks.  “It is better that one hundred guilty men go free than to have one innocent man go to prison,” has long been a  principle of American justice.  It should stay that way.