15 November 2010
Contact: Delaney Bruce, Legal Team Liaison,
Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee, PO Box
7488, Fargo, ND 58106, USA;
Telephone: 1-701-235-2206; firstname.lastname@example.org
Peltier family accuses U.S. government of medical neglect
A man dies from prostate cancer every 16 minutes
in this country. Why does my brother have to
wait over a year to receive even a diagnosis?
Native American activist Leonard Peltier, who
maintains his innocence, was wrongfully convicted
in connection with the shooting deaths of two
agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in
1977. Imprisoned for 35 years—currently at the
federal prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania—Peltier
has been designated a political prisoner by
Amnesty International. Nelson Mandela, Desmond
Tutu, 55 Members of Congress and others—including
a judge who sat as a member of the court in two
of Peltier's appeals—have all called for his
immediate release. Widely recognized for his
humanitarian works and a six-time Nobel Prize
nominee, Peltier also is an accomplished author and painter.
Sister Betty Solano says Peltier began exhibiting
symptoms commonly attributed to prostate cancer
over a year ago. His age (he is 66 years old)
and family history are risk factors for the
disease. Pressured by Peltier's attorneys, the
Bureau of Prisons (BOP) ran standard blood tests
in June. Peltier received the results last week,
over four months later. A physician only now
says a biopsy is needed to make a diagnosis.
Prostate cancer affects 1 in 6 men in the United
States. Medical experts agree that the cure rate
for prostate cancer is high, but only if detected early.
Even if Peltier doesn't have cancer, the symptoms
indicate a serious medical condition and one that
could lead to serious complications if left untreated.
A physician who conducted an independent review
of Peltier's medical records in 2000 concluded
that Peltier's overall medical treatment is below
a reasonable standard of care. Decades ago,
Peltier suffered a stroke which left him nearly
blind in one eye—damage physicians say could have
been prevented had he been treated sooner. In
the 1990s, there was international outrage after
the BOP botched surgeries to correct a jaw
problem. Only then was Peltier transferred to
the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for
treatment. Subsequent procedures were
recommended by a specialist, but never performed by the BOP.
"Last week, at the United Nations, the United
States claimed that it is unequivocally committed
to the humane treatment of all individuals in
detention, including criminal
detention. Delaying tests, avoiding a diagnosis,
and preventing proper medical treatment for a
potentially life threatening disease is not
humane by anyone's definition," a spokesperson
for the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee said.
Unfortunately, this situation isn't unique to Mr.
Peltier. Many U.S. prisoners die prematurely
because treatment is delayed or denied.
Family members want the government to release
Peltier who was denied parole in 2009. His North
Dakota tribe has twice passed a resolution asking
the government to transfer Peltier into their
custody. Peltier's many supporters believe his
release from prison is the only way Peltier will
receive humane treatment.
Launched into cyberspace by the
Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee
PO Box 7488, Fargo, ND 58106