Colorado State University’s Department of Sociology’s student-run Criminal Justice Organization will host Juan Melendez, an innocent man who spent nearly 18 years on Florida’s death row before his exoneration. The talk will be held 7-8:30 p.m. March 31 in Clark Building Room A104 on the CSU campus.
Melendez spent 17 years, eight months and one day on death row for a crime he did not commit. He was released by evidence proving innocence on Jan. 3, 2002 and since then has traveled across the United States speaking out as a human rights activist against the inequality of the death penalty in America.
Melendez will talk about problems that he sees as plaguing the current criminal justice system. Melendez was convicted without physical evidence. He cites that the death penalty system has a high rate of being imposed on innocent individuals, is unfair and unequal dependent on the defendant’s race and is most often imposed on the poor and most vulnerable members of society.
The story of Melendez’s journey to freedom was captured in the documentary, “Juan Melendez 6646.” The film follows Melendez’s family and legal representation through their quest to free a knowingly innocent man. The documentary has been screened at six international film festivals.
Upon Melendez’s release from prison he was handed a pair of pants, a t-shirt and $100. To date he has received no apology from his condemners or restitution for the 18 years of lost life. He instead has used his strength to reach out and teach others about the failing criminal justice system in hopes of igniting a revolution of change. His campaign, United for Justice, uses grassroots means to conduct outreach with children over the age of 10, elected officials and support fellow exonerees.
Melendez’s presentation includes a question and answer portion. His attorney, Judi Caruso will also be in attendance to answer questions regarding the legal aspects of Melendez’s case.
For more information on Juan Melendez and his United for Justice Project, visit http://www.voicesunited4justice.com/about.htm.