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Innocent man relased from death row, Juan Melendez, to speak at Chase School of Law on April 5

Juan Melendez

Juan Melendez

Juan Melendez, who spent nearly 18 years on death row for a crime he did not commit, will be sharing his story of injustice, survival and hope in Northern Kentucky on Tuesday, April 5. The event will be held at Chase School of Law, Northern Kentucky University (Highland Heights), from 12 -1:30 p.m. at the Student Union 102.

From the Voices United for Justice Project:

On January 3, 2002, Juan Roberto Melendez, an innocent man, was released from Florida’s death row after seventeen years, eight months and one day. Unfortunately, although his case is unique on its facts, the circumstance of being innocent and on death row is, shamefully, anything but unique. Upon his release, Juan became the ninety-ninth death row inmate in the country to be exonerated and released because of innocence since 1973 . The number currently stands at one hundred and nineteen. For more information about innocence and the death penalty, visit www.deathpenaltyinfo.org.

Juan’s story is one of supreme injustice and his legal case highlights all of the endemic and pervasive problems of the death penalty, including its high risk of being imposed on the innocent, its almost exclusive application to our most vulnerable and defenseless citizens—the poor—and its unfair and disproportionate application on the basis of race and ethnicity. However, his story is also a profoundly personal one: A story of survival where the human spirit triumphs over the oppressive forces of dehumanization, degradation and death. How did Juan endure torturous conditions of confinement for almost two decades? How did he maintain his humanity under such conditions? How did he maintain his sanity under such conditions? How did he learn to let go of his all-consuming anger and hatred? How did he resist the temptation to commit suicide, a desperate act to which so many of his friends on death row succumbed? How did a man change for the better after spending seventeen years, eight months and one day on death row for a crime he did not commit? It is a remarkable story of human resilience, courage, faith and hope. It is a multidimensional story that inspires at multi-dimensional levels. It is a story that “should be heard by everyone.”

Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia

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