Leonard Peltier denied adequate medical care, pressure needed
September 1999

Native American political prisoner Leonard Pelitier is being denied adequate medical care, according to the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, and pressure is needed to help with the problem.

Peltier, who has been incarcerated almost 23 years, was illegally extradited from Canada in 1976 and subsequently convicted of the 1975 killing of two FBI agents in a shootout at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Despite the acquittal in a separate trial of his co-defendents, Dino Butler and Bob Robideau, and the uncovery, through the Freedom of Information Act, of proof that the FBI lied at his trial and supressed evidence supporting his innocence, Leonard Peltier was sentenced to two consecutive life terms and remains behind bars. During Peltier's trial, the FBI said they did not know who shot their agents or what role Leonard Peltier might have played, but somebody had to pay.

Peltier, who is suffering from a severe medical condition which causes his jaw to be frozen open 13 millimeters, requested current x-rays from prison authorities on May 25, 1999. The x-rays would help Maxillofacial expert, Dr. Eugene Keller of the Mayo Clinic, to determine what can be done to treat Peltier. Because prison authorities are not allowing Peltier to be transferred to the Rochester Medical Facility for federal prisoners, a facility where Dr. Keller could examine and if warranted, treat Peltier, Pelitier's defense team decided to attempt bringing Keller to Peltier instead.

Keller is willing to examine Peltier at Leavenworth Penitentiary where Peltier is currently imprisoned, however, he must have current x-rays before making the trip. Prison authorities have not x-rayed Peltier's jaw since 1996. Despite this, prison authorities are not allowing Peltier to receive current x-rays. As of now, the LPDC has received two different responses from two different departments of the Bureau of Prisons regarding the request. The first response is from Phillip S. Wise, Assistant Director of the Health Services Division of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in Washington D.C.

In this May 28, 1999 response letter to Senator Wellstone, Mr. Wise states that Dr. Keller is not authorized to receive x-rays of Peltier because he is not contracted with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He goes on to say that, "there is no clinical indication for a second opinion by Dr. Keller." To the contrary, Warden Booker says in his June 8, 1999 direct response to Peltier, "Please be advised that you are free to provide Dr. Keller with copies of records which are contained in your Bureau of Prison's Medical file." However, he completely neglects to address Peltier's request, which was for current x-rays.

Amnesty International, France Libertes', Physicians for Human Rights, several members of the European Parliament, and many more human rights groups and concerned individuals have written to Warden Booker in support of Peltier's request for current x-rays of his jaw. Up until March of this year, prison authorities were willing to transfer Peltier to the Springfield Medical Facility for a third surgery. Because Peltier had already undergone two unsuccessful surgeries that worsened his condition in 1996 at this same facility, he refused to go. Prison authorities are now confident that Peltier's condition cannot be treated at all. Interestingly, prison authorities made this conclusion without the use of current x-rays.

Alarmingly, Phillip S. Wise of the Federal Bureau of Prisons also stated in his response letter that Peltier is suffering from, "diabetes, a cardiac condition, and hyperlipedemia." The prison has not yet begun blending Peltier's food, and because he cannot bite or chew his food, he must eat mostly soft, starchy foods making it difficult for him to control his diet. This may be a contribution to these conditions which prison authorities say he is suffering from. Leonard has had a stroke before and the above conditions are life threatening making his condition even more urgent.

Please include the above mentioned serious health conditions when writing and speaking to governmental officials about Leonard Peltier's condition. Additionally, please continue to write and ask others to write Warden Booker and the Bureau of Prisons in support of Leonard's request for x-rays. Attorney Eric Seitz is taking steps to ensure that Leonard receives the treatment he needs, but urges you to help. He also wants us to note that when speaking about Leonard's medical condition, it is important we use only accurate information.

In Solidarity,
The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Ms. Kathleen Hawk Director,
Bureau of Prisons
320 First St. NW
Washington, DC 20534
Fax: (202) 514-6878
Phone: (202)307-3198

Warden Booker
Leavenworth Federal Prison
Box 1000
Leavenworth, KS 66048

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