President Barack Obama is finishing up his last days in office by issuing commutations of prison sentences for hundreds of people serving time, but Leonard Peltier will not be one of them. In the past few weeks, a coordinated effort by Peltier defense team and activists saw letters from Pope Francis and Peltier’s former prosecutor James Reynolds calling for clemency, which raised hopes that his name would make Obama’s list. During an exclusive jailhouse interview with reporter Kevin McKiernan held recently, the political prisoner said that if released, “I’d be there for my people again.”
However, Peltier won’t get to fulfill that promise to his people, as the Office of the Pardon Attorney through the Department of Justice sent his long-time attorney Marin Garbus the following letter posted at whoisleonardpeltier.info:
Dear Mr. Martin Garbus:
The application for commutation of sentence of your client, Mr. Leonard Peltier, was carefully considered in this Department and the White House, and the decision was reached that favorable action is not warranted. Your client’s application was therefore denied by the President on January 18, 2017. Please advise your client accordingly.
Under the Constitution, there is no appeal from this decision. As a matter of well-established policy, we do not disclose the reasons for the decision in a clemency matter. In addition, deliberative communications pertaining to agency and presidential decision-making are confidential and not available under existing case law interpreting the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act. Your client will become eligible to reapply for commutation one year from the date on which the President denied the current application.
Office of the Pardon Attorney
Upon hearing the news, Leonard Peltier shared a message with his family, friends and supporters:
"If I should not [receive clemency] then after we are locked in for the day I will have a good cry and then pick myself up and get myself ready for another round of battles until I cannot fight [any]more. So, don’t worry. I can handle anything after over 40 years.”
Those interested in writing Peltier and staying the course in his fight are encouraged to do so. Letters can be sent to:
Leonard Peltier #89637-132
USP Coleman I
PO Box 1033
Coleman, FL 33521