Chelsea Manning, recently sentenced to 35 years at Fort Leavenworth for sending documents to WikiLeaks, submitted a pardon request to President Obama today. Manning’s sentence will also be examined by a review board that can reduce, but not extend, her term of imprisonment. In addition, Manning will be eligible for parole in approximately six and a half years, and can already apply for clemency.
Among other criteria, the Army Clemency and Parole Board may consider Manning’s “psychological profile” and “medical condition,” including her “need for specialized treatment.” In the meantime, Manning might have to sue to receive proper medical care. According to an August 27 New York Times editorial,
Private Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, said last week that he hoped military prison officials would voluntarily provide hormone treatment, without a lawsuit. It should not take a court order to get officials — including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — to do the right thing. They should give Private Manning appropriate medical care and safe but not unduly isolated housing, which should be available for all transgender prisoners.
A spokeswoman for Fort Leavenworth told NBC News, however, that the Army does not provide hormone treatment. Yet several federal courts of appeal have acknowledged that failing to assess whether a transgender inmate needs access to hormone treatment or surgery constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. If prison officials don’t voluntarily provide proper medical care and Manning is forced to sue, staff writer Margaret Talbot with the New Yorker predicts that “she just might win.”