‘I am confined to a cell that is eight […] by eight feet …’

Leonard Peltier

Peltier was targeted because of his strong advocacy for Native rights and defense of Native sovereignty. The U.S. government withheld and fabricated evidence, coercing witnesses in order to convict Peltier in a fraudulent trial. He has always maintained his innocence.

Since his conviction, an international movement demanding Peltier’s freedom has developed. In 2004, Peltier ran for U.S. president on the California ballot from his prison cell. He remains an uncompromising symbol of Native resistance to centuries of U.S. government repression.

Peltier is still being targeted by the U.S. government. He was recently moved without warning from his cell in Leavenworth, Kansas to the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Russ Redner, Executive Director of the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, condemned the government for moving Peltier: “Leonard Peltier is not just an ordinary prisoner. This is the domestic version of rendition as a means to break and derail political dissent. The U.S. prison system is the system that reservations were a pattern for. It has been used to kill those prisoners of conscience throughout time.”

The following July 30 message from Leonard Peltier outlines the difficulties he is currently facing and calls on supporters to join the struggle to free him.

As I sit here in my solitary confinement cell at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana and reflect over the past month’s events, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of love and gratitude for each and every person who has so diligently stood by me in this time of crisis.

On June 30, 2005, I was transferred from Leavenworth facility to Terre Haute. The reason for my transfer, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons administrative staff, was that the Leavenworth facility was downgraded from maximum security level to medium and therefore I could not remain at Leavenworth due to my illegal sentencing and consequent maximum security rank.

I was transferred without notification to my attorney, Barry Bachrach, and my family. Upon my arrival at Terre Haute, I was placed in solitary confinement and was told that I would remain in solitary confinement until my personal file arrived. My personal file arrived, but I remain in solitary confinement allegedly for security reasons.

I am confined to a cell that is eight feet long and eight feet wide. It has a window that is covered from the outside with an elaborate shield that allows me to see two to three inches of the sky out of the top and two to three inches of the ground.

All prisoners are supposed to get at least one hour of sunlight or outdoors and so I am taken from my cell to what is called a “recreation room,” and the only sun or outdoors that I see is from some windows high up in this large room with a few air holes in them. I am able to walk up and down. This fulfills the one hour of sunlight or outdoor recreation time.

Whatever the system’s logic is, it seems that I won’t stay in Terre Haute for much longer and will be transferred again. I do not know when and where, nor do I know if this cruel game will be over after another transfer. After all, removal and relocation have been used to break our people from the beginning of this country’s history. This keeps my Defense Committee from taking the necessary steps to re-establish an office, but they are doing everything they can to help me in this most precarious and uncertain situation.

People around the world continue to demand Peltier’s release.

Photo: Bill Hackwell

A month in solitary is beginning to take a toll on me, but letters from supporters give me much hope and encouragement. Many supporters have written, e-mailed and called U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute and other government institutions on my behalf. This has brought some improvement to my solitary confinement.

At this time, I am asking everyone to contact U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and other organizations to request that my security level be downgraded to medium due to my health, age and good behavior, and that I be transferred to a medium security institution with all my hard earned prisoner privileges restored.

I thank you for your support and prayers and hope that I may one day soon be among you.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Leonard Peltier

For more info and to get involved with the struggle to free Leonard Peltier, visit the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee’s website at www.leonardpeltier.org.

Contact the U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute and the Federal Bureau of Prisons on behalf of Leonard Peltier. (When referring to his case or writing to him, add his register number: #89637-132)

USP Terre Haute
4700 Bureau Road South
Terre Haute, IN 47802
Phone: 812-244-4400
Fax: 812-244-4789
THP/[email protected]

Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First Street NW
Washington, DC 20534
202-307-3198, [email protected]

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