Are we so different? Possibly not, if the sentence handed out to Amanda Knox is anything to go by

We sometimes question whether we are right in our sentencing policy for murder. There will be many considering the plight of Amanda Knox as she begins her 26 year sentence.

Amanda Knox, 22, has been reported as bowing her head and bursting into tears as she was jailed for 26 years for murder and sexual violence.

Italian Raffaele Sollecito, 25, her former boyfriend was given 25 years.  The starting point for killing with a knife in this country is presently only 15 years much to the dismay of the families of victims of knife crimes and killings in this country. The starting point for killing using a firearm is 30 years.  The law is to be reviewed and the government propose that the minimum period should be 25 years.  We also have a whole life tariff in this country whereby the trial judge is able to reflect the true horror of the crime in particularly horrific killings such as was the case with Ray Whiting the killer of Sarah Payne.  The whole life tariff can be used where a sexual motive can be established and it seems as though the prosecution's allegations against Amanda Knox that she did engage in a sort of sexual game with her victim has been accepted by the jury.  

Would a similar sentence have been handed out if the crime had been committed under our jurisdiction?  Possibly.

Apart from any appeal process, does this mean Amanda must serve out the full 26 years?  Does life mean life?  It has already been reported that Knox may only serve 15 years of her sentence.  After this period, with good behaviour, according to some reports she may be allowed out on 'daytime release' under Italian law.

This does not seem so very different to what happens in this country and it will be interesting to see how the appeal process proceeds.  Some of you may be able to follow events during the course of your studies and make informed observations.

However amidst the media scrum that has developed over this high profile trial, respect for the trial process may be hard to find and already there is the danger that this will become a case where that unique version of American politics has some sort of bearing on the eventual outcome.



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