Press Release

Inside Out: Perspectives on Freedom, Democracy, and Imprisonment | #HistoryColorado

Denver, Colo. (October 29, 2020) — The land of the free is also the home of the world’s largest prison population. What does our approach to incarceration tell us about our democracy? And how can more Coloradans keep their freedom?

John Eding, Communications & PR Manager
303-866-3670 |

Find new perspectives on Thursday, November 19 during Justice and Democracy presented by Juston Cooper. This event is part of History Colorado’s election-year speaker series, This Is What Democracy Looks Like. Participants may choose from two live online presentations available at 1 and 7 pm. More information and tickets ($5–15) are available via and the event page at

The annual budget for corrections in Colorado is now approaching $1 billion. Half of Colorado’s inmates return to jail after getting out, a rate that is 11% above the national average. According to the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Commission, Colorado spends more than $36,000 per inmate annually—approximately 784% more than it spends for each of its K–12 students ($4,171)—and more than 20,000 children in Colorado have a parent in state prison.

Amid these staggering figures are also signs of change. According to the Pew Research Center, the nation’s imprisonment rate is at its lowest level in more than two decades, falling 17% between 2006 and 2018. While the demographics of U.S. prison populations remain very different from those of the whole country, the rate of imprisonment among Black Americans has supported this trend, decreasing 34% during this period. Where will we go from here?

About Juston Cooper
Juston Cooper is the deputy director of the nonprofit Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (CCJRC). A Denver native, Cooper received his Bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State University and holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver. Having been directly impacted by the criminal legal system himself, Cooper believes it’s essential to understand the systemic issues and barriers that contribute to oppressing communities in order to truly promote public health and safety.

About the Speaker Series
Part of an ambitious election-year initiative, History Colorado’s 2020–2021 speaker series aims to be as multi-dimensional, provocative, and participatory as democracy itself. Denver Freedom Riders founder Anthony Grimes and Garrett Reppenhaggen—a third-generation American veteran, and the executive director of Veterans For Peace—join Cooper among upcoming presenters through June of 2021. The online forum may extend to complementary in-person experiences at a later date. Tickets ($5–15) and complete details are available at      

The This Is What Democracy Looks Like Speaker Series is supported by:

Walter S. Rosenberry III Charitable Trust  | Abarca Family Foundation | Richard and Mary Lyn Ballantine | Peter and Rhondda Grant | George and Mary Sissel | Donors to the Executive Director's Innovation Fund | Donors to the Women’s Vote Centennial

About History Colorado
History Colorado is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and a 501(c)3 non-profit that serves more than 75,000 students and 500,000 people in Colorado each year. It is a 141-year-old institution that operates Colorado’s oldest museum, nine additional museums and historic sites, a free public research center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF), which is the nation’s largest preservation program of its kind. The SHF currently administers more than 280 grants worth approximately $24 million in active distributions across the state. More than 70% of its grants are currently allocated in rural areas of Colorado.

History Colorado’s outlets are publishing Black voices and confronting entrenched racism in historic preservation. Within the last year History Colorado has added curators of Latino Heritage and LGBTQ+ History to its staff, and added a full-time position to its Museum of Memory team, which works proactively to incorporate underserved communities and voices into its contemporary collecting initiative and other efforts. Its recent statement and historical essay on civil unrest have been widely shared by major news outlets. The History Colorado Center is the nation’s first state history museum to display a monument toppled this summer with new, inclusive interpretation.

History Colorado’s eight museums around the state were among the first cultural institutions in Colorado to reopen to visitors under new safety protocols. The swift return to in-person service in June followed an agile reorganization in response to COVID-19 that catalyzed new avenues for youth education, full-length episodes of its podcasts, and a weekly digest with over 28,000 subscribers. The SHF has already distributed $4.2 million since mid-March and continues its grant funding on schedule.

History Colorado’s mission is to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. We serve as the state’s memory, preserving and sharing the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado through educational programs, historic preservation grants, collecting, outreach to Colorado communities, the History Colorado Center and Stephen H. Hart Research Center in Denver, and nine other museums and historic attractions statewide. History Colorado is one of only six Smithsonian Affiliates in Colorado. Visit, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information.