It is Time for Leonard Peltier to be Freed

May 10, 2016

Amnesty has serious concerns about the fairness of Leonard Peltier's (above) trial (Photo Credit: Taro Yamasaki).

“Only one thing’s sadder than remembering you were once free, and that’s forgetting you were once free.” –Leonard Peltier

This weekend I made the 850 mile trip from the Nation’s Capitol to the sprawling Coleman Federal Correction Complex in Wildwood Florida to visit a man who has been in Federal custody for more than half of his life – Leonard Peltier. As I wound my way past barbed wire and concrete, the words above weighed heavy on my mind.

Peltier’s case brings together many disparate themes that wind their way through the larger criminal justice system: the role of human rights principles in addressing the crisis of mass incarceration, the responsibility of the the Judicial and Executive branches to address decades-old cases, questions of mercy and compassion for an aging population of incarcerated people, and finally deep contradictions in the perceived nature and purpose of the U.S. prison system itself – whether it is meant to correct and rehabilitate or simply to punish.

One central truth remains, however – at the center of such lofty questions, a 71 year–old man spends his days in a Maximum Security prison facing the real prospect of dying behind bars, struggling until the end to prove his innocence. Tweets can never capture the impact of sitting with another person who has spent four decades refusing to forget freedom, but that can serve as an urgent reminder: justice so long delayed has a human cost. It is time for Leonard Peltier to come home.

Time is of the essence, and we need your voice. Take Action and call on President Obama to grant Leonard Peltier clemency on humanitarian grounds and in the interests of justice.