[Ppnews] Leonord Peltier in the Hellhole of Solitary Confinement
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jul 19 10:16:56 EDT 2011
Native American Activist Leonord Peltier in the
Hellhole of Solitary Confinement
July 19, 2011
by Sal Rodriguez
American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier
has been removed from general population and
into solitary confinement at USP Lewisburg since
June 27th. The 66-year old inmate has been
ordered to spend 6 months in solitary stemming
from various petty infractions, according to his attorney, Robert R. Bryan.
Peltier, in a letter to his attorney, described
the cell as a cement steel hotbox with little
ventilation (a 1.5 inch slot under the door is
the primary source of cool air). Due to the lack
of suitable ventilation coupled with the heat of
the summer, he has been drenched in hot sweat
and indicated he had to stop many times while
writing the letter due to difficulty
concentrating in the cell. My client has been
put in the hellhole, said Bryan.
Allotted five one-hour periods of exercise,
Peltier spends 23 hours in a cell five days a
week. The exercise is in a cage where water
isnt allowed. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and
Fridays, he is allowed to shower. For the other
two days, he is in his cell 24 hours. He is not allowed any personal visits.
According to a note that Peltier had written at
the time, he had been preparing to eat breakfast
the morning of June 27th when guards entered his
cell and began disrespecting my religious items
and threatened to lock me into solitary.
According to the prisons
incident report, dated 06/27/2011:
[T]his officer reviewed a letter being sent by
In this letter, inmate Peltier has
enclosed a bank note of 20 pounds, in Scottish
currency. In the enclosed letter, inmate admits
to receiving the bank note in the mail. It is
obvious that inmate Peltier was in possession of money that was not authorized.
Peltier received a letter the previous day from a
supporter in Scotland that contained a 20-pound
note and had been inspected by the mailroom.
Peltier had asked the mailroom to send back the
enclosed money, but this request wasnt followed
up. He then addressed a letter to a friend and
enclosed the note so as to send the money out of
his cell and out of the prison, knowing that
possession of unauthorized money was a violation
of prison rules. This letter was intercepted at
8:00 a.m., prompting guards to search his cell at 9:45 a.m.
According to a
prison incident report, written the same day by a
guard who searched Peltiers cell:
[W]hile performing a search
I observed two wires
protruding approximately 2 inches from the wall
of the cell
.The wires were located on the wall
above the corner post of the upper bunk.. I
attempted to pull the wires out of the wall.
I attempted to pull the wire out of the wall my
grip failed, my fingers slipped on the wire and
contacted the bare ends of the wire. At that time
I received an electrical shock through my right hand and forearm.
Peltier was deemed guilty of destroying,
altering or damaging government property having a
value in excess of $100. Peltier, however, did
not sleep on the top bunk and the wiring was
manipulated by a former cellmate. In addition,
because of the guards decision to attempt to
pull the wires out of the wall, Peltier was found
to have engaged in conduct which disrupts or interferes with security or
orderly running of the institution (Most Like)
assaulting any person. Most Like is a
provision in the Federal Bureau of Prisons
Statement that reads: This charge is to be used
only when another charge of greatest severity is
not accurate. The offending conduct must be
charged as most like one of the listed greatest severity prohibited acts.
Prison officials deemed Peltier responsible for
the shock the guard received while pulling out
the exposed wires, and deemed it an act most
like an act of assault committed by Peltier.
This is a greatest severity level
violation, meaning an inmate can be placed into
segregation for up to a year. The charge of
destruction of property is a high severity
level act which can result in up to six months
in segregation, and the possession of
unauthorized money is a moderate severity level
violation and could result in up to three months in segregation.
Peltiers punishment for possessing money he had
refused and attempted to send away, for being
deemed guilty for the actions of a prior
cellmate, and for assaulting a guard who chose
to touch live wires is only the latest of the
injustices that Peltier has faced.
Peltier was convicted of the 1975 killing of two
FBI agents during a shootout on the Pine Ridge
Reservation in South Dakota, which took place at
the height of the
Indian Movements efforts to gain public
attention regarding the plight of Native American
tribes, the abuses of the United States
government against Native Americans, and a wave
of unsolved murders in tribal territories. The
subject of a
documentary and a European Parliament
of support, Peltier has always maintained his
innocence. Critics have raised serious questions
about the fairness of his trial, and he is
considered by many to be a
The United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg is
the oldest prison in the federal system, and one
of the most notorious. Since 2009, it has also
been one of the most heavily locked-down. In the
words of the
of Prisons, Lewisburg is now being run entirely
as a Special Management Unit (SMU) institution to
operate as a more controlled and restrictive environment for managing the most
aggressive and disruptive inmates from USP
general population. Peltier was sent there in
2008 not for any disciplinary infractions, but
because he was the victim of a beating by younger
prisoners at another federal facility. Theyre
hoping hell die there, that hell be forgotten
there, maintains his attorney.
Peltier has been in poor health in recent years,
suffering from hypertension, diabetes, and
exhibiting symptoms of cancer. This is of
particular concern given the vast literature
detrimental effects of solitary confinement on
both psychological and physical health,
particularly when there are pre-existing conditions.
Peltiers attorney has indicated that the
placement into solitary confinement has slowed
correspondence. A legal call has been delayed for
several days and the prison has been slow to
providing Peltier with the instruments necessary
to write and send letters necessary for his legal proceedings.
Says attorney Bryan: Prison officials are using
this as an excuse to punish and torture my
66-year-old client. His health is poor because of
decades of imprisonment. He needs to be placed
back into the general population.
More information on Leonard Peltier can be found
page run by Peltier attorney Robert R. Bryan.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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