Constant Lockdowns Are Having a Devastating Effect on Peltier’s Health, Cousin Says

Excerpts from TruthOut


Paulette D’Auteuil-Robideau, Peltier’s cousin, lives in Gainesville, Florida, not far from Coleman. She serves on the board of the new Leonard Peltier Ad Hoc Committee, as well as of the Jericho Movement to Free All Political Prisoners. D’Auteuil-Robideau has traveled across the world to talk to audiences about Peltier and the plight of political prisoners, the existence of which the U.S. continues to officially deny.


The Leonard Peltier Ad Hoc Committee is the only organization that Peltier currently authorizes to speak on his behalf, sell his artwork, and to manage the donations that help cover his legal expenses and meager commissary budget.


D’Auteuil-Robideau told Truthout that guards have clearly been using lockdowns as a way of extending their weekends, as many lockdowns “coincidentally” begin sometime on Thursday and end, however briefly, on Monday or Tuesday.


In addition, D’Auteuil-Robideau said she is worried that Peltier has paid an egregious cost with his health. Diagnosed with diabetes a few decades ago, Peltier was able to get the disease under control by exercising regularly and supplementing the sugar and carb-laden prison diet with commissary products, as well as drinking more bottled water.


Peltier’s diabetes eventually went into remission, but it returned after the imposition of COVID restrictions and the 2023 lockdowns, which have limited Peltier’s diet to what is shoved through his cell door. Moreover, both D’Auteuil-Robideau and Peltier’s attorney said that since there is no medical line during lockdowns, he must rely on nurses remembering to do a finger stick test once daily, and that Peltier has not been given glucose tablets or juice to help him if he begins to go into a diabetic coma.


Once again, the BOP flatly denies that this is true, and says all incarcerated people have access to medical and dental care, including glucose tabs and diabetic dietary meals.


But Peltier has already lost all of his teeth over the past 10 years at Coleman, as Jones explained, and he has not been given prosthetics, making food very difficult to eat. Dental and medical care are bad under the best of circumstances, she said, but under lockdown, they are nearly nonexistent.


Because of the size of the cells, the aging Peltier has not been able to move more than a few inches in two directions each day, and his body is suffering for it. But Peltier isn’t just concerned for himself.


In August 2023, Peltier said he witnessed through his cell window another person incarcerated at Coleman I being taken from a nearby cell on a stretcher, as the lack of exercise had atrophied his muscles to the point that he could no longer walk. According to Peltier, prisoners have spoken of other similar incidents throughout USP Coleman I, where nearly 1,500 prisoners are held.

Self portrait painted by Leonard Peltier

“These lockdowns are killing us old guys,” Peltier told Truthout through his assistant during a brief lockdown break in September. “Not enough exercise for our legs. I had a hell of a time walking the yard. Even with my walker, I had to stop and rest often.”


Jenipher Jones, who has served as Peltier’s lead attorney since May, concurred that Peltier’s health has suffered as a result of the lockdowns.

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