Friday, June 8, 2012

Exonerated death row inmate to speak in Colorado Springs

Posted By on Fri, Jun 8, 2012 at 1:27 PM

A few objective truths for your consideration:

Juan Melendez
  • Juan Melendez
Number of countries that carried out executions in 2011: 21

Rank of the United States in terms of number of executions: 5th (between Iraq and Yemen)

Number of current death row inmates in Colorado: 3

Percentage of Coloradans who are black: 4%

Percentage of current Colorado death row inmates who are black: 100%

"It's costly, it's arbitrary, it's discriminatory," says Rev. Roger Butts, organizer for Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. "And God forbid we execute an innocent person."

Juan Melendez nearly became that person. After 17 years on death row in Florida for a 1983 murder — and several denied appeals — that state's Supreme Court finally overturned his conviction when a key witness recanted his testimony. Ten years after his release, he's bringing his story to Colorado Springs. On Sunday evening. Melendez will speak and respond to questions at First Congregational Church, 20 E. Saint Vrain St., at 6 p.m.

"The guy is just so incredibly inspiring," says Rev. Butts. "I have a feeling that if I spent 17 years on death row, I'd be bitter, and angry, and mean, and just a recluse or something. But this guy is so unbelievably inspiring."

His visit is sponsored by Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, who hope to pass legislation in 2013 to make Colorado the 18th state in the union to end capital punishment. For more information, contact Rev. Roger Butts at

Check out the trailer for Juan Melendez 6446, a documentary about Melendez's perilous journey through capital punishment's legal apparatus.

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