Magazine article The Progressive

Medical Care for Leonard Peltier

Magazine article The Progressive

Medical Care for Leonard Peltier

Article excerpt

Leavenworth, Kansas

Activists in support of Leonard Peltier say the Federal Bureau of Prisons is refusing to allow him to obtain badly needed oral surgery.

Peltier, a Lakota-Ojibwe Indian, is entering his twenty-fourth year at Leavenworth Prison. He is currently serving two consecutive life terms for the deaths of two FBI agents on June 26, 1975, during a confrontation on the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. His supporters claim that there is no clear evidence linking Peltier to those crimes, and that Peltier is a political prisoner who is being punished for his membership in the American Indian Movement.

He has received support from a wide range of people, including Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, the late Mother Teresa, and Amnesty International, according to the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee.

A new campaign in support of clemency for Peltier is also gaining steam. On February 11, the European Parliament passed a resolution asking President Bill Clinton to grant Peltier clemency.

Peltier, who contracted lockjaw as a child, cannot chew properly and hasn't received any special meals in prison, according to the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee's web site. In 1996, he was transferred to a federal medical facility in Springfield, Missouri, near Leavenworth. There, two unsuccessful surgeries worsened his jaw condition. According to the Defense Committee's web site, the second operation almost killed Peltier, who was in a coma for fourteen hours.

After the second operation, Tom Collins, a prison medic, recommended that Peltier be treated elsewhere. …

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