WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — In the past 12 months, more than 700 people returned from state prison to New Hanover County. A world-famous exoneree is in the Port City to shed light on this growing need for more transitional programs in the Cape Fear.
“We just want to have the chance to define ourselves and we are continuously told: ‘You’re bad,'” Amanda Knox said. “You’re wrong. Why don’t you just disappear?…”
Knox wants to be a part of the change in criminal justice reform, after spending nearly 4 years in an Italian prison and 8 years on trial for a murder she maintains she didn’t commit.
“The vast majority of us don’t think we’re going to be subject to the criminal justice system because there are bad people who go through that and then there is us,” Knox said.
But, Knox says her situation is not unique to Italian prisons.
“Being that I had to re-enter society after going through what I went through,” Knox said. “Being stigmatized for what I went through and having all the same issues and traumas that are associated with incarceration… all of that is something that I share with everyone who has been incarcerated.”
So, Knox is joining Linc Inc. Monday night in celebrating 20 years of providing what she calls a necessary community for anyone re-entering society. More than 400 curious individuals including judges and public offenders attended the milestone dinner.
“I know my case has a lot of curiosities for a lot of reasons,” Knox said. “One of them is because I am a white woman and, unfortunately, that makes people think they can relate to me more.”
Executive Director Frankie Roberts calls Knox a hero.
“Most of our work with re-entry works with John Q public being more forgiving and that’s what we want people to recognize and understand,” Roberts.
The Linc Inc. is planning to expand their outreach. Executive Director Frankie Roberts says they are outgrowing their 45-bed campus and hope to add another 80-bed campus within the next year.