Welcome to the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
We are the hub of communication between Leonard Peltier and his program coordinators, the general public, government officials, political and tribal leaders, the media, and his supporters worldwide.
Imprisoned for 15058 days 20 minutes 9 seconds
Who Is Leonard Peltier?
Native American activist Leonard Peltier has spent over 40 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Prosecutors and federal agents manufactured evidence against him (including the so-called “murder weapon”); hid proof of his innocence; presented false testimony obtained through torturous interrogation techniques; ignored court orders; and lied to the jury. People are commonly set free due to a single constitutional violation, but Peltier—innocent and faced with a staggering number of constitutional violations—has yet to receive equal justice.
Read support statements from former U.S. government officials:
Watch “WARRIOR The Life of Leonard Peltier”
Why Is Peltier Still in Prison?
Eligible since 1986, Peltier is long overdue for parole. The U.S. Parole Commission has yielded to the objections of the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in denying Peltier’s applications for parole at every turn—most recently in 2009 when he was told he will not receive another full parole hearing until 2024 when, if he survives, he will have reached nearly the age of 80 years.
Per the Bureau of Justice Statistics, DOJ, from the time of Peltier’s conviction in 1977 until the mid-1990s, the average length of imprisonment served for homicide in the U.S. prior to being released on parole ranged from 94 to 99.8 months (about 8 years). Per the existing standards at the time of his sentencing, Peltier is long overdue for discretionary parole. Per 1977 standards, he has served the equivalent of over five life sentences. But, in violation of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (and its amendments), the government has illegally extended Peltier’s prison term. Effective on October 12, 1984, the law ordered that parole dates be issued to all “old system” prisoners within the following five-year period, at the end of which time (on October 11, 1989) the U.S. Parole Commission would cease to exist. After it had technically ceased to exist, the Commission claimed it needed more time to complete its work. Congress inexplicably granted several after-the-fact extensions. These extensions were legally invalid and therefore inapplicable because, at the time they were made, the Parole Commission had already been abolished.
Further, Peltier has long been eligible for mandatory release. However, in determining his release date, the government has failed to apply its 30 -year rule. (After 30 years served, all sentences are to be aggregated and the prisoner released.) In addition, the government has not considered the good-time credit earned by Peltier (20 years, to date). Instead, the government has consistently stated that Mr. Peltier’s presumptive release date is October 11, 2040.
Leonard Peltier was denied clemency in 2009 by then President Bush and most recently (on January 18, 2017) by President Obama.
Join These and Other Supporters
As it had done over a decade ago, the National Congress of American Indians (representative of over 500 Indian nations in the United States) unanimously passed an historic resolution on Mr. Peltier’s behalf in late 2011. See other recent expressions of support here or visit our archive of support statements (made prior to 2009) here. Recognizing that Leonard Peltier has been imprisoned for decades for a crime he did not commit, various other governments, dignitaries, and human rights organizations from around the world also have called for Leonard Peltier’s release.
What You Can Do
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Note: Much of the information contained on this site is derived from “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse” by the renowned author Peter Matthiessen. The book is the definitive work on the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the Peltier case. The author successfully defended against lawsuits brought by former Governor and Congressman William Janklow from South Dakota (convicted of manslaughter in 2003, jailed, and forced to resign his congressional seat in disgrace) and FBI Special Agent David Price in three different states, surviving an eight-year litigation. As acknowledged by the courts, Matthiessen’s “reputation for not being sensationalistic or scandalous is well known. He is a highly respected author and his works have received wide acclaim.”