Well, not quite. And before Leonard Peltier and the LPDOC get all giddy and start salivating over the President’s first pardons (December 3, 2010), let’s take a closer look at the list and compare them to Leonard’s crimes.
Of the nine, 77% had received probated sentences (in other words, no jail time) for crimes like illegal possession of government property, possession of cocaine, liquor violations, false statements, counterfeiting, and of all things, coin mutilation. Only two had received jail time (24 months for a military conviction) and a year-and-a-day for possession of cocaine and marijuana. Their average wait (spanning from as early as 1960 to 1999) was twenty-eight (28) years.
Within the backdrop of these pardons the President has received 3,389 new petitions and started 2010 with 4,716 pending petitions but denied 1,288 with another 842 being closed without any action taken (that’s about 2,000 if the LPDOC is keeping track).
What the list of recipients didn’t include was someone serving two life sentences (plus another seven consecutive years for an armed escape) who was convicted of murder and aiding and abetting in the brutal deaths of two federal agents, someone who has had more bites of the legal apple than possibly inmates on death row, twice reaching the U.S. Supreme court, and never having either his sentence or conviction overturned; someone who was the subject of sworn testimony (April, 2010) in federal court quoting him as saying one of the agents begged for his life but that he shot the---anyway, or in a public statement (February, 2010) announcing “And really, if necessary, I’d do it all over again, because it was the right thing to do.” (Please see http://www.noparolepeltier.com/debate.html#concise for additional details.)
See the difference? These pardons, as they usually are, were granted to those who have served their sentences (as minor as some were), have reformed, and desired to have their debt to society removed and certain rights restored, like the right to vote, hold public office or own a firearm. Not a likely set of circumstances for Leonard Peltier.
On a scale of 1 to 1,000, where these nine pardons rate as a “1,” Peltier’s name wouldn’t appear on the list of those deserving even a cursory review for consideration.
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”