Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee - Clemency


Since 18 Feb 2008


Leonard Peltier


USP Coleman I

P.O. Box 1033

Coleman, FL  33521

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What is 'Executive Clemency' you may well ask. Executive Clemency may take several forms, including pardon, commutation of sentence, remission of fine or restitution, and reprieve. The President's clemency power extends only to federal criminal offenses. The Pardon Attorney prepares the recommendation of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for the President for final disposition of each application.

Clemency as regards the Peltier case refers to the commutation of his sentence, not a pardon. A president can decrease the amount of time Leonard Peltier must serve prior to release or immediately release Leonard Peltier for time already served. (A pardon can only be awarded once a released prisoner has been free and hasn't re-offended for a period of five years.)

The authority to grant a commutation of a sentence imposed by a federal court belongs only to the President (under Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution). This means that the above clemency regulations are advisory only and for the internal guidance of DOJ personnel. The decision to commute Leonard Peltier's sentence is the President's and the President's alone.

This leads us to the confusion that exists among supporters about the timing of awards of Executive Clemency. Many people believe that such awards only occur when a president leaves office. This is not true. For example, President Bush issued commutations annually and even President Clinton awarded clemency at times other than when he left office on January 20, 2001. Our point? The timing of such awards also is entirely up to the discretion of the President and may occur on the day he/she takes office, his/her last day in office, or any day in between.

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

We also ask you to write, call, fax and e-mail the White House to express your support for an award of Executive Clemency to Leonard Peltier.  Focus on:

  • Equal Rights. "Special treatment" for Leonard Peltier has had the effect of preventing his parole (which should have been awarded over a decade ago) or an award of Executive Clemency. This violates our concept of justice and equal protection under the law.  People are commonly set free due to a single constitutional violation, but Peltier—faced with a staggering number of constitutional violations—has yet to receive equal justice

  • Peltier's humanitarian record.

  • Leonard's health. (See health-related content in the below sample letter.)

  • The impact of his imprisonment on Leonard's family.

Contact information

President Barack H. Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Phone Numbers:

Comments - 202-456-1111

Switchboard - 202-456-1414

Fax - 202-456-2461

E-Mail:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

Sample Letter

President Barack H. Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20500

(Insert Date)

Dear President Obama:

If you, as President, truly seek freedom and justice for all you must act to right the wrongs committed by our government in years gone by. Begin by granting Executive Clemency to Leonard Peltier.

Leonard Peltier, an innocent man, was convicted for the 1975 shooting deaths of two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. U.S. prosecutors have repeatedly admitted that they did not and cannot prove Peltier's guilt and the appellate courts have cited numerous instances of investigative and prosecutorial misconduct in this case. As late as November 2003, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that "…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."

The courts claim they lack the power to right this wrong. But, as President, you can.

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, Leonard 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 gift drive for the children of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation—a successful program that, in 2006, expanded to include other reservations throughout the country.

A six-time Nobel nominee, Leonard Peltier is widely recognized in the human rights community for his good deeds and in turn has won several human rights awards including but not limited to 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.

Leonard Peltier is over 68 years old and his health is deteriorating. He has suffered a stroke which left him partially blind in one eye. For many years, Peltier had a seriously debilitating jaw condition which left him unable to chew properly and caused consistent pain and headaches. Today, Leonard Peltier continues to suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, and a heart condition, as well as emerging conditions. He risks blindness, kidney failure, stroke, and certainly premature death given his diet, living conditions, and health care.

Peltier has served his time. Even by the government's own definition, he has already been imprisoned for a lifetime. In that time, he has missed the simplest things of ordinary life—having dinner with friends, taking walks in the woods, gardening, children's laughter, dogs barking, the feel of rain on his face, the sound of birds singing... winter and summer and spring and fall. He has missed seeing his children and grandchildren grow up. They suffer, too. Leonard Peltier is now a great-grandfather. How many more generations must suffer this tragedy?

I say enough is enough, Mr. President. Do the right thing. Grant Executive Clemency to Leonard Peltier right away.

Thank you for giving fair consideration to Leonard Peltier.



Also write letters to your representative and senators for your state to ask them to officially support an award of Executive Clemency to Leonard Peltier.

Much of the information contained on this site is derived from In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen, 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.

Copyright 2008-2013 Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee. Page Last Updated on Friday, 08 November 2013 05:20 PM

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LPDOC, (Relocation to Coleman, FL, In Progress)