August 27, 2015
Dear President Obama and Others who Should be Concerned,
Have any individuals you’ve known and cared about been incarcerated? Their crime or lack thereof is immaterial to the questions I ask. Have you ever felt the worry-that-never-leaves thinking about them? Are they safe? Are they getting any nutritious food? If they have a medical condition are they getting their necessary medication? Are they being brutalized by other inmates or prison staff? Are they in Restrictive Isolation/Solitary Confinement/Administrative Segregation/“The Hole”? Knowing what it’s like inside America’s Prisons & Detainment Centers… are they being Tortured, Abused, Violated and Medically Neglected? Now, imagine asking these questions and having these worries for almost 40 years. Imagine being the Loved ones of Native American Federal Prisoner Leonard Peltier (#89637-132). I can feel the pain of Leonard’s Loved ones because I’ve had family, friends, and patients/clients behind bars, and I still have a Loved one Inside. I’m certainly not in the minority. With the rate of incarceration in America well over 2+ million people, I’d estimate that those like me and Leonard’s Loved ones are well over the 5+ million mark! Tell me….how’s your “Prison Reform” looking Now?
I’ve read innumerable articles through the years about America’s InJustice and Penal Systems…some were accurate and non-biased; some were total crap. Obviously I’ve spoken to many individuals who’ve been imprisoned….both guilty and innocent. As an aside here, I’ve worked with Viet Nam Vets in Psychiatric settings and the crippling PTSD that so many suffer is comparable to what others suffer who have spent time in Prisons/Jails or other types of Detainment Centers. Prison tries to ruin too many Good People. Even those who have consistent support from their Loved ones suffer from being inside the American Penal System and InJustice System. All of this leads me to this ONE question…HOW does an Innocent Man framed and scapegoated by the United States Government and its Agencies through fraudulent documents, coerced and falsified testimony, malfeasance by the court system and more get released from Prison? I ask you this on behalf of Leonard Peltier. September 12th is Leonard’s Birthday; 71 years old is no cake-walk for an inmate. Seriously I can see no viable reason for Leonard’s sustained illegal and wrongful incarceration. I’ve written you more times now than I can count asking that you grant Leonard his due right of Executive Clemency. I’ve discussed his case and the many Legal/Constitutional, Civil, Human, and Treaty Rights Violations and Abuses that have been put upon him. I know that you know Leonard’s case and I will not discuss it here again. But you know, there ain’t no way I’m done!
Leonard knows his case…and so do individuals world-wide who have advocated and supported him just shy of 4 decades. He has with the help of others painstakingly presented his case through resolutions and petitions to both your administration and former presidential administrations. Leonard of course is not the only one in this predicament, but he has been lucky in that he has had a support system outside of just his close family and friends in place; too many others are not so lucky. Leonard is known Internationally in part because the crimes against him perpetrated by our own Government are a constant reminder of the grievous acts towards all of Native America since the United States came into being (and before). Let me clue you in to some facts you may not know. It is not until an individual walks into prison that he or she actually finds out through petitioning the court what their actual charges are. It usually takes the inmate years on end before they get their court transcripts and other papers. All of this costs money and then it’s also amazing how many court and legal papers go missing. To be honest the system doesn’t give a fig and so innocent women and men remain incarcerated. That’s only part of it. After retrieving necessary paperwork, it then comes down to finding reliable representation. Even with knowledge of tainted evidence, crime scenes, and more, finding legal representation after the initial conviction is cost prohibited. So in America’s Prisons there are the 100% innocent-from-any-type-of-crime who have NO way to grab that Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Card!
If Leonard Peltier, one of the World’s most well known Wrongly Incarcerated “Political Prisoners/POW”, canNOT get out of Prison….how can anyONE else who also deserves their FREEDOM become FREE? How can my Loved one become Free? President Obama, YOU have the Power to DO SOMETHING. The whole petitioning for Clemency by someONE who is innocent is oxymoronic to me…and we both know it can take years (if it’s addressed at all). But, since the use of Clemency Petitions are recognized tools for both State and Federal Prisoners…make it work. I suggest you streamline the process and make it less cumbersome. There should also be a way to delineate Prisoners that are actually guilty from those who are innocent and those who have been misrepresented so their Prison terms do not match their crimes. Governors will need to do this for their States. Judges and District Attorneys will have to do their jobs. The easiest way to start all this seems to be a re-working of the Petitions for Clemency.
Now, let me bring it to what YOU can do NOW, as a gesture of Good Faith and a Solid commitment for REAL Prison Reform. YOU can grant Executive Clemency to Leonard Peltier! I also remind You that You and each State Governor can grant Clemencies any time You choose and there are NO actual needs for Clemency Petitions. I’ve just made your job easier and you can Thank me later. My own Loved one may never Walk Free, but I would Love to see my friend Leonard Peltier become a FREE Man!
Respectfully I once again Thank You for your time and consideration. In Peace.
Bonnie F. Walker, RN, BS, LNC