Sunday, October 12, 2008

Leonard's Parole

Leonard Peltier's first full parole hearing was held in 1993, at which time his case was continued for a 15-year reconsideration. He'll become eligible for another full parole hearing in December 2008. An application for parole will be filed at Mr. Peltier's discretion. The earliest time when that hearing is likely to occur is in January 2009.

NOTE: The Bureau of Prisons announced in late September 2008 its plan to convert one of its existing penitentiaries into a more controlled, restrictive institution that will house inmates who have been "problematic to manage" in other institutions. USP Lewisburg (in Pennsylvania), where Mr. Peltier currently is imprisoned, has been selected to fulfill this mission. Mr. Peltier has been informed that his transfer to a different facility is imminent. Therefore, Mr. Peltier's parole hearing will occur according to the schedule for parole reviews for the specific prison to which he is transferred.

In the meantime, supporters are encouraged to get busy and step up their efforts in support of parole for Leonard Peltier.

Letters in Support of Parole

It is really important that everyone write letters in support of Leonard's petition for parole. These letters can be quite simple and should cover the basic points important for parole decisions. A sample letter follows. Feel free to use it, but know that it's even better if you write one in your own words. The lawyers urge that the tone be courteous and concise.

Get as many friends to sign similar letters. Carry a sheaf of spare letters with you. Get one signature per letter, that is, rather than using a petition format.

Guidelines for General Supporters

First, we ask that you sign the online
parole petition.

Next, draft correspondence to the U.S. Parole Commission. A sample letter follows.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT mail the letter to the Parole Commission. Mail it instead to the Peltier Legal Team, c/o LP-DOC, P.O. Box 7488, Fargo, ND 58106. The parole attorney will present stacks of letters (more impressive than having them trickle in). Leonard's defense committee also will keep copies for use with Congress, the media, White House contacts, etc.

Sample Letter

United States Parole Commission
5550 Friendship Boulevard
Suite 420
Chevy Chase, MD 20815-7286
(Insert Date)

Re: LEONARD PELTIER #89637-132

Dear Commissioners,

Convicted in connection with the deaths on June 26, 1975, of Ronald Williams and Jack Coler, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Leonard Peltier remains imprisoned at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

The court record in this case clearly shows that government prosecutors have long held that they do not know who killed Mr. Coler and Mr. Williams nor what role Leonard Peltier "may have" played in the tragic shoot-out.

Further, in a decision filed by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on December 18, 2002, Mr. Peltier’s sentences "were imposed in violation of [Peltier's] due process rights because they were based on information that was false due to government misconduct,” and, according to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, in 2003: "…Much of the government’s behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and its prosecution of Leonard Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed."

Despite these admissions, Leonard Peltier has served over 30 years in prison.

After careful consideration of the facts in Leonard Peltier's case, I have concluded that Leonard Peltier does not represent a risk to the public. First, Leonard Peltier has no prior convictions and has advocated for non-violence throughout his prison term. Furthermore, Leonard Peltier has been a model prisoner. He has received excellent evaluations from his work supervisors on a regular basis. He continues to mentor young Native prisoners, encouraging them to lead clean and sober lives. He has used his time productively, disciplining himself to be a talented painter and an expressive writer. Although Leonard Peltier maintains that he did not kill the agents, he has openly expressed remorse and sadness over their deaths.

Most admirably, Mr. Peltier contributes regular support to those in need. He donates his paintings to charities including battered women's shelters, half way houses, alcohol and drug treatment programs, and Native American scholarship funds. He also coordinates an annual holiday gift drive for the children of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Leonard Peltier is widely recognized for his good deeds and in turn has won several awards including the North Star Frederick Douglas Award; Federation of Labour (Ontario, Canada) Humanist of the Year Award; Human Rights Commission of Spain International Human Rights Prize; and 2004 Silver Arrow Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2004, 2006 and again in 2007, Mr. Peltier also was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Leonard Peltier is now over 60 years of age—a great-grandfather—and suffers from partial blindness, diabetes, a heart condition, and high blood pressure.

I recognize the grave nature of the events of June 26, 1975, and I extend my deepest sympathy to the families of those who died that day. However, I find aspects of this case to also be of concern and I believe Leonard Peltier deserves to be reunited with his family and allowed to live the remaining years of his life in peace. I also believe that, rather than presenting a threat to the public, Mr. Peltier’s release would help to heal a wound that has long impeded better relations between the federal government and American Indians.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely yours,


Please also send a similar letter to your representative and senators for your state to ask that they officially support an award of parole to Leonard Peltier. Please consult our Congressional Directory for contact information.

Communicating with your members of Congress is one of the most important ways you can participate in the legislative process, and one highly effective way that you can expand your lobbying efforts is by writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Letters-to-the-editor take no more time to write than e-mails to Congress, and by writing for a public forum, you can potentially influence both your legislators and many of the voters who elect them. Click
here for newspapers in your state. Also read these tips.

For Family and Friends

As with any professional correspondence, your support letter should be on letterhead (if you have Microsoft Word or another similar program you can easily create professional-looking letterhead from a template). The letterhead should include all of your contact information including your name, address, phone number(s) and email address if applicable.

Describe your relationship with Leonard -- how do you know him, for how long, etc. Write about his character, and his accomplishments both before and during imprisonment. Discuss improvements made since being incarcerated such as education and his philanthropic work. Discuss Leonard's positive attitude and, despite his innocence, the fact that he has openly expressed remorse and sadness over the deaths that occurred on June 26, 1975.

Finish your support letter by telling the Parole Board how you will support Leonard once he is granted parole. Your support might be financial, such as a place to live, use of a vehicle, or help finding job offers. Your support can also be emotional such as providing advice and encouragement.

Once you have completed your support letter, sign it and make copies. Send the original to the Peltier Legal Team. Send a copy to Leonard and keep a copy for your personal files.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT mail the letter to the Parole Commission. Mail it instead to the Peltier Legal Team, c/o LP-DOC, P.O. Box 7488, Fargo, ND 58106.

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