A Brief Testament to the Human Spirit

Today, the Italian Supreme Court will decide whether or not Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito will stand trial a second time for the murder of Knox’s former roommate, Meredith Kercher. Although I’m 90% certain their acquittals will be upheld– to retry a case with such an incredibly botched investigative process and blatant fabrications would be ridiculous– it’s still the uncomfortable prolongation of an ordeal that all parties would like to put behind them.

The exonerated men and women that I’ve met through my work at the Innocence Project amaze me, time and again. They are all a testament to the triumph of human spirit over oppression; they are the most compelling stories of survival. Raffaele is, of course, no exception. He was kind enough to share a letter written to his father and sister early on in his incarceration (translated from Italian). Most of us would struggle to comprehend the feelings that he must have been experiencing at the time– wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to 26 years in prison–yet, as evidenced below, he manages to find something in that bleak reality to make him smile.

I am writing from a cold, damp isolation cell. There are peepholes in every corner where the guards can watch you use the bathroom. The bed is made of something spongy, the television cannot be used, the bathroom is filthy and I asked for it to be cleaned. Today I finally got a blanket, so at least when I’m asleep, I’m warm. Outside the window there is a concrete ravine and beyond that a huge open space that is completely empty, except for the armed guard on the tower. In the midst of this sad and depressing landscape, on the horizon you can see a mountain lodge. Well, that little house in the middle of the plain gives me a small smile.


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